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Design Review and Planning Commission Proposal on January 20 Agenda

Nearly two years after the City Council voted to merge the Planning Commission and Design Review Board, that has not happened, largely I believe, due to the complexity of the process and widespread community opposition.


Despite some bitter differences between advocates and opponents, there has always been general agreement that the process has substantial room for improvements for the benefit of both applicants and the community. The principal difference has been in the details of how to achieve those improvements, and even then, there has been substantial agreement.


Meanwhile, the stalemate and uncertainty has resulted in recruitment challenges for both organizations, which remain below their authorized membership and largely consist of holdovers whose terms have long since expired. To their credit, however, those members who remain have soldiered on and continue to volunteer their valuable time and experience.


In the spirit of trying to bring together what has constituted rival factions over this subject for the last two years, I have agendized for January 20 a policy resolution that tries to capture the best of everyone’s approach to this subject. Click here for a copy.


The resolution provides for maintaining the separate Planning Commission and Design Review Board for the time being and building them back to full strength with the best possible membership. Meanwhile, a number of improvements to the process are suggested or directed while a future configuration that resembles some aspects of a merger continue to be studied or even tried on a trial basis.


The appendices to the resolution include lists of architects and landscape architects with Richmond addresses. If you know any of these people, encourage them to apply (see Board and Commission Vacancies - Serve Your City, December 21, 2008).


If you support the approach I am suggesting, let your City Council members know by clicking on “reply to all” and sending a message to the new City Council, or better yet, show up at the January 20 meeting and voice your support.