Council takes NO ACTION on Changes to Preservation Ordinance- Nov 20, 2012

At their Nov 20, 2012 meeting the City Council took no action to adopt the changes proposed by Planning Director Charlie Bryant, and already approved by the Planning Commission. At the City Council meeting a number of property owners appeared, simply because they were notified. The EPOA is sponsoring a ballot measure to make such notification a requirement. Please see Emeryville Public Notice & Accountability Initiative.

The lack of action is NOT a form of relief the existing ordinance allows the planning director to consider almost anything significant. The new strict planning regulations will be ready for adoption at the Dec 18, 2012  city council meeting. Those regulations are supposed to include the preservation ordinance. No action was taken on the proposed ordinance,  pending another review of the listed properties.. After everyone left the room the planning director asked for it to come back at the next meeting to adopt the changes without specifying any particular property. The FIVE MINUTE 2nd video below.shows his request to the council. The complete video of the agenda item is below..

STAFF COMMENTS  by Planning Director following the earlier decision not to move forward with the Preservation Ordinance……….

No one who spoke at the meeting supported the list of “significant” buildings. The criteria used to make this judgment seems totally arbitrary. While many property owners understand the idea of preservation, the definition of significant is controversial, and used in this instance. makes little sense.  Each of these structures is being designated without the cooperation of the property owner. This is not the right way to handle business.

Although the City Attorney says it’s not a taking. Perhaps we should ask each owner if they agree. This ordinance totally limits or changes the vision these owners have for their land when they bought it. However, what property owners don’t realize, the existing ordinance already provides that power to the Staff. It simply does not specifically mention the properties being targeted as “significant”.

What the Planning Director was trying to say, the existing ordinance is WORSE. The PROPOSED ordinance lets the owners who are not specified off the hook. You will note the comments in the 2nd video above. He asks the Council to go ahead and adopt the ordinance without specifying particular properties. He doesn’t want to delay the approval of the new strict planning regulations. He has created a scenario where he has more authority to approve your requests, however you will have to adhere to the recommended set of design guidelines to win his approval. Otherwise, you will be subject to a costly time consuming exercise, since these new regulations take away the power of the Planning Commission and City Council to grant variances without changing the law.

We have gone too far. All these regulations take away the power of the community to approve and be exposed to new idea. For each new idea is dead on arrival with Staff. Every denied opportunity is a loss to the community and the property owner. These regulations empower the Staff, and the people sitting on these boards and commissions.

When the Planning director was asked if he knew how this would impact land value he had no idea. That has to show anyone, the value simply doesn’t matter. The problem with the entire General Plan is the people who own the land ware left out. It’s not enough to say a notice was sent. If you are not getting participation, you don’t have the right formula. The ability to achieve success with a planning document is to seek the approval of the affected parties.

In this instance the Staff hires expensive consultants who put pretty pictures in front of people who generally won’t own property, and they ask them to make choices. A major element of a proper planning effort is how will these decisions affect our budget, our ability to carry out vital functions. If we are too restrictive we won’t be able to pay for our needs. If we over tax property owners, or make it more difficult for them to improve their land we won’t make any more money, necessary to pay for vital needs. The Planning Director is admittedly making decisions
with no economic concern.

The General Plan and Zoning clearly lacks proper environmental review. The impacts of what is happening is UNKNOWN, and it should be the most important aspect of what we are doing.

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