There are many ways to describe what happened at the Planning Commission (“PC”) meeting on Oct. 15, but “fair” would not be one of them.
First, the city planner repeatedly rudely interrupted people mid-sentence with “time’s up” refusing even to allow them to complete a sentence. When I tried to finish my last sentence consisting of just another 13 words, the city planner actually threatened to disconnect my microphone by reaching for the connection. That is censorship by an unelected and un-appointed staff member. What she did was rude and took up more time than if she had just let me finish my sentence, which I finished anyway.
While it is important to hold everyone to the same three minute time limit, I don’t think an extra five seconds violates the spirit. Furthermore, it is the PC chair, not the city planner, who has the authority to decide how long people speak.
Second, the city planner apparently thinks that not holding one previous parcel split applicant to the rules somehow justifies not doing so again when she said would “keep the same process as before.” When I asked in a public records request to confirm what had been done, I asked to what project she was referring, she said there were two. However, she wouldn’t – or couldn’t – name them. Not following the law is not justification for not following the law if that is what happened.
Third, if the city planner is to be believed, the city attorney thinks the lot split is exempt from CEQA. That’s a premature assessment absent public comments which might reveal a “fair argument” of “potentially significant impacts.” Either of them should have told the PC that the question of the exemption is contingent upon public comment or a more thorough staff review. Instead the city planner reassured the PC that the attorney is okay with the categorical exception.
Fortunately, the chairman acknowledged that numerous people raised serious issues suggesting there may be significant impacts, and the lot split was set for a future date.