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February 2009 | from Brooke Eisenberg-Pike, Hoska

An Open Letter to the City Council

The composition of the Form Based Code Committee (FBCC) that was recommended at your last council meeting could have some unfortunate ramifications for the community. Twenty-five years ago the Planning Commission was comprised pretty much as has been recommended for the FBCC. There was a “design professional” (a very aggressive architect), three “citizen planners” (3 contractors and developers), a real property professional (a real estate agent). They represented a very pro-growth council that was overwhelmingly defeated in 2 elections (1986 and 1988). Actual residents with no dog (potential economic gain) in that fight were excluded from representation on the commission. We have not seen the likes of that kind of land use committee until now with the most recent recommendations. I will not belabor the point, but it was exactly that kind of committee and attitude that gave way to Measure B, the very ordinance you would like to repeal. Many residents among us have been accused of living in the past; unfortunately, and ironically, the committee representation that was recommended will take us back to the past.

At the very least the “design professional” should be a DRB member, the “planning professional” should be a member of the Planning Commission and the “financial expert” should be a member of the Finance Committee and there should be, at the very least, 2 residents at large. It has already been stated that the “traffic” seat should be filled by a TPAC member. Members of Boards and Commissions generally have some knowledge of the Community Plan and for the most part are not trying to receive economic gain from changes in zoning.

The plan as presented did not include review by the Design Review Board. This level of review should not be omitted.

The Council has given voice to the desire to give developers incentives and certainties rather than the vagaries of Measure B. No one mentioned that Measure B gives a certain amount of security and certainty to the community. That certainty is the ability to have input into the uses of the property and benefits to the community in exchange for the bonuses given to the developers. Measure B has the ability to ensure that the benefits (services and amenities) offered to the entire residential community offset the impacts of the development. These assurances, though equally important, are broader than just protection of the adjacent neighborhoods. It appears that you may be stacking the deck against residential interests in your quest to give developers incentives.


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