Bonnie Donovan and Natasha Todorovic
Activist city staff are reshaping our town, and they have all but one or two City Council members at heel? We’ve watched city staff’s game of “managing up” and shaping city boards’ and council decisions along an ideological, unmandated, super-sized growth plan. Is staff providing boards with sufficient information? Is it accurate? Pressuring the Planning Commission and the Architectural Board of Review to rush ill-considered projects, the board members are led blindly, and some have been forced or have chosen to leave their appointments. AUD is a well-intentioned idea that went wrong. Residents want it stopped. In a veiled attempt to hide the tarnished reputation of the program, staff is rebranding: AUD is now titled “Multi-Unit Housing Policy & Program.” Staff also demands the extension of the trial period. As usual, city staff corners the council members into adopting the staff’s MUHPP(et) Show. Their mantra: “Bigger + Taller Buildings (from 45 to 48 feet) Smaller + Denser Spaces (63 per acre).” Hiding behind Sacramento skirts, chanting “our hands are tied,” they are setting up the City Council and mayor for another public fall. Staff hides behind obtuse technical terms that parade as institutional knowledge. Apart from one or two astute voices on council, the mayor enables staff to run the show, stifling the Planning Commission’s independent recommendations. Urge the Planning Commission to fully evaluate the issues in this AUD remake rather than rubber-stamp an ill-conceived, half-baked redesign that affects our town (Staff report: bit.ly/STAFFAUD). This life-altering issue is at the Planning Commission Oct. 10, at 1 p.m. at City Hall.