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Editorial: Replacing JJ&F
Original post made
on Aug 8, 2014
The developer of a long-delayed mixed-use project on the site of the former JJ&F Market is asking the city to approve his son as the owner-operator of the required replacement grocery store and allow construction to begin.
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posted Friday, August 8, 2014, 12:00 AM
Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 9, 2014 at 6:10 pm
Fred Balin is a registered user.
As we move into Monday evening's council discussion on the grocery requirements in this approved Planned Community (PC) and then Wednesday evening's general discussion of PC reform at the Planning & Transportation Commission (P&TC), it is an optimal moment to reflect on some history.
The "JJ&F Block" (College Terrace Centre) PC application following on the path of the Alma Plaza PC are not only similar for the ransom of grocery-store retention to neighborhood commercial zone-busting, but for PC applicant manipulation of the system all the way through its individual processes.
Did/Does it have to be that way? No.
At the Planning Commission, applicants' requests to initiate a zone change to PC for both Alma Plaza and College Terrace Centre were denied. But in each case the council overruled the P&TC's denial and subsequently approved a PC the applicant wanted.
At the P&TC for Alma Plaza (April, 2007), the vote to deny was 5-1-1 (Holmam, Burt, Keller, Tuma and Garber voting to deny; Lippert, opposed; Sandas, absent).
But at the follow-on and pivotal city council meeting, marred by project changes placed at the council dais and therefore bypassing the public and staff, the vote was to approve the applicant's PC, 5-4 (Barton, Morton, Beecham, Drekmeier, Kleinberg, voting to approve; Klein, Kishimoto, Beecham, Cordell, voting to deny).
For College Terrace Centre, two years later, the vote to deny at the P&TC was 6-1 (with Holman, Keller, Fineberg, Garber, Lippert, and Tuma voting to deny; Roatsi opposed).
But at the subsequent appeal to the city council, again preceded by late changes from the applicant, the council balance had swung further. The vote to approve the applicant's PC was 7-1-1 (only Kishimoto opposed; Klein, fierce in a tighten-up of public benefit protections, and then joined by Burt in an unsuccessful effort to shave off a bit of the excess office, but both eventually voting in favor, and joined by others with seemingly no concerns Barton, Morton, Drekmeier, Espinosa, and Yeh; with Schmid absent.
At the P&TC Commissioner Karen Holman's accepted protocol over several years to keep commissioners away from private meetings on PCs, held for another 18 months after Eduardo Martinez was appointed to fill her vacated place on the P&TC, Arthur Keller barely squeaked by, 5-4, for reappointment.
But with the appointment of Greg Tanaka, the balance shifted. And, then most definitively, in 2012, via council majority decisions not to reappoint Susan Fineberg to her position on the commission or either of two other open slots on the commision, it signaled most clearly where the council majority was headed and where it saw the P&TC not going.
Since "Maybell Avenue," of course, the prevailing winds have changed.
With College Terrace Centre veterans Klein, Burt, and Holman on the dais Monday, it is hard for me to imagine much tolerance for more developer surprises, such as his son as grocery tenant and a mystery grocery store manager.
Hopefully, some of those winds will arrive at Wednesday's P&TC as well.