Message from the President... (Helen Griffin)|
Task Force on Impact of Federal Funds (Muriel Roberts)
Learning Experience... Plus
League Members Meet Legislators & Vice Versa (Barbara Dykes)
Gurgle and Gasp News
Council Notes (Nancy Guille)
Have Van... Will Travel
Vote Count + You = LWV Money
Gurgle and Gasp News
Remember we "won one" in September? Astrid Monson reported that the City Council had finally reduced future apartment densities by over-riding the Mayor's veto and passing Bill 48.
Well, we've just lost on the same one. Opponents of density reduction represented primarily by the Construction Industry Legislative Organization asked for and were given a chance to present their proposal for amendments. The League also submitted proposed amendments designed to strengthen the new ordinance. The Planning Commission was requested to review the testimony and proposals and to make recommendations to the City Council.
After two public hearings, the Commissioners took action on October 17, voting 5-0 in favor of industry's proposed amendments which not only restores densities to what it was but also reinstates the complex computations that Bill 48 eliminated. We're back where we started:
We aren't questioning the Commission's final action--we've become experienced losers--but we are questioning the procedure of the October 17 meeting. Public Hearing was officially closed on October 3, and a vote was taken on industry's proposal: 2 in favor; 2 opposed; 2 abstained. Final action was deferred to the 17th. Encouraged by the negative vote, Helen Griffin called Eugene Connell, Executive Secretary of the Planning Commission, to ask if they planned to take up the League's proposal which had been submitted with back-up testimony but never discussed. Connell said he didn't know what they'd do.
But at the meeting on the next day, Connell summed up what he said were suggestions the Commission had received and refuted 4 items. He never mentioned LWV but since the 4 items were major points in our testimony, it can be assumed he was referring to LWV's arguments. Following Connell, CILO presented a large cost chart and testimony defending their proposal. Chairman Izumoto then asked if anyone in the room had any comments.
The League was totally unprepared for this. We had assumed that since the public hearing was closed, there would be no additional comment from the public. We had expected to learn only what final action was going to be taken and could have sent an observer who would not have been authorized to speak for the LWV. The Commissioners then voted 5-0 in favor of industry's proposal, reversing the previous 2-2-2 vote.
We seriously question the procedure of this meeting. Griffin just happened to be there and able to respond to Connell's remarks. Industry's planned presentation was a complete surprise. We question whether it's proper to request additional information after a public hearing is closed. And if it is, shouldn't there be an opportunity for others to respond to what is presented? The procedure is questionable and the inequity is especially obvious when the measure in question is controversial.
The League's experience with the Planning Commission causes us to also question whether "citizen participation in government" is a mere formality that enhances the high-sounding quality of our Charter or a sincere goal. We hope it is the latter. But if we want citizens to participate in government, then government must give them more than lip service and a pat on the head.
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