At the end of the day, the Terminal 1 developer, Laconia will get what they want because of a naïve City Council that has no understanding or appreciation for good planning and urban design. See Terminal 1 Developer Proposes Single Family Subdivision, February 15, 2022 and Design Review Board Chair Slams Terminal 1 Design, November 9, 2022.
Both Laconia and the City Council are trying rush through amended terms of sale of Terminal 1 despite bad design and many unanswered questions before the end of 2022 to avoid implementation of the Surplus Lands Act, which would require solicitation of new developers.
But nevertheless, Laconia felt compelled to have their attorney write a threatening letter to City Attorney Dave Aleshire citing criticism of the project by Design Review Board Chair Jonathan Livingston and me. Click here for the threatening letter. They are invoking an archaic standard that members of a legislative body acting in a quasi-judicial function must do so without bias.
Examples of quasi-judicial hearings include annexation protests and personnel disciplinary actions. A conditional use permit would be an example of a quasi-judicial action involving land use.
From the League of California Cities :
The city council is primarily a legislative and administrative body, but often sits in a quasi-judicial capacity. Quasi-judicial matters may include variances, use permits, annexation protests, and personnel disciplinary actions. Quasi-judicial proceedings tend to involve the application of generally adopted standards or rules to specific fact situations, much as a judge applies the law to a particular set of facts. Those persons subject to a quasi-judicial proceeding must be given meaningful notice and an opportunity to be heard. A record should be kept of the witnesses and their testimony, the evidence introduced on both sides, and the council’s findings. “Findings” are the city council’s explanation for its action. Findings are not only important to those interested in the council’s decision, but to courts reviewing the council’s action in the event of a legal challenge. To satisfy due process obligations, the decision-maker must be fair and impartial. Council members should be careful to listen to the testimony in such hearings if they vote on the matter, leaving biases, prejudices and pre-conceived ideas outside the hearing.
In reality, it’s an impossible standard. What normal person can clear his or her mind and remain totally impartial to a controversial subject coming before a legislative body?
What Laconia is objecting to are written criticisms that Jonathan Livingston and I have leveled at the current Terminal 1 design.
Whether we are biased or not is moot in this case, because any decision by the City Council involving a permit for Laconia will happen, if at all, after I leave the City Council. And any action by the Design Review Board is purely advisory with the Planning Commission making the final decision. A decision whether or not to sell property and the terms of sale is not a quasi-judicial action.
The fact remains that Terminal 1, as currently designed, is a horrible project with many unresolved issues. The Brickyard Cove Alliance for Responsible Developments has demanded mitigation for the 10,000 truckloads of fill, repair of roads damaged by construction traffic, updated and accurate permit and vesting maps, and updated hazardous material mitigation. They wrote, “We concur with [Design Review Board] Chair Livingston’s comments regarding the design of the project. ‘It is too dense and uninspired for such a prime site. He wrote to the Mayor and others with the following comment: ‘To save money, the developer has not offered more diversity in the architecture and along the waterfront and Brickyard cove road, units repeat themselves over and over creating a homogenized mass-produced overall look that does not create the quaint feel of the East Coast village seaside town or the richness of a Tiburon or a Capitola. Instead, it feels like an entire super dense single-family development…’”
The immediate neighbor of Terminal 1, the Richmond yacht Club, wrote about height limits, fill, reconstruction of damaged roads, and cleanup of hazardous materials. The Yacht Club reiterated its previously ignored requests to meet with Laconia.