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By Steve Levy

Correcting Some Misstatements in the Weekly Editorial and op ed Today

Uploaded: Feb 3, 2017

I am a member of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) and I attended the council meeting Monday night and watched more at home.

Before I get to the editorial and op ed I want to mention three achievements Monday night.

One was the mayor’s decision to allow public speakers first. Second was the large turnout (24 I think) who came mostly to speak for more housing and choices and for flexibility in thinking about our path to 2030. Third was the positive engagement between council and representatives from Stanford on the possibilities on Stanford land in the city for more housing and transportation demand management success.

With regard to the editorial and op ed, the charge that the council overturned a CAC consensus is FALSE. From attending CAC meetings to reading the staff report it is clear that the CAC while showing many areas of agreement sent the council OPTIONS in six areas because there was NO consensus. These are

Cumulative cap
Annual limit
Housing sites
Building heights (for housing or mixed housing /retail projects)
Downtown cap
Development requirements
Child care (yes/no in neighborhood centers)

The cap choices referred to limits on various types of commercial development

Let’s start with building heights. There was NO CAC consensus, which is why choices were brought to council. In fact a majority of the CAC favored some exceptions to the height limit. The idea that the CAC favored retaining the 50 foot limit in all cases is FALSE.

So the council seeing no clear majority took the issues out of the Comp Plan so there could be MORE not less debate as resident positions are changing as council member Wolbach noted when he said he wanted to hear more from the community.

P.S. The vote here was 6-3 not 5-4 with council member Filseth joining the majority.

On housing sites after removing Town and Country from the Comp Plan list for housing the council voted either 8-1 or 9-0 to support the CAC recommendation again undermining both the assertion that the CAC was ignored and the FALSE implication that most votes were 5-4.

The Weekly or staff would do a service by tabulating the number of times each vote margin occurred.

With regard to performance standards a large majority of the CAC, after hearing from a subcommittee on this issue, decided that these standards were not ready now if ever for inclusion in the Comp Plan and again the council honored the majority CAC view.

The CAC did have a strong consensus (no vote was unanimous) that the cumulative cap was okay to approve and again the council supported the CAC.

There was a wide difference of opinion on the CAC as in the community about the merits of the other caps in handling impacts as opposed to focusing attention on all developments in terms, say, of reducing parking demand and car use. So the council left debate and decision on most of these issues for later as the ordinances come before council. Since there is no consensus in the community the council decided to hear more debate as the issues come up again. This is hardly “stifling” debate.

In the votes that I saw there were many more votes that were not 5-4 than 5-4 votes. I saw council members Filseth, Kniss, Scharff, Fine, Wolbach and Tanaka takes views that were “crossover” votes. And many votes were nearly unanimous.

With regard to deleting programs the council followed the procedure they used with the S/CAP in focusing on high level policies in a plan that goes to 2030 and addressing programs separately.

Readers should not confuse a disagreement on the direction of the city with false assertions that the council overturned policy consensus (it did not), that most votes were 5-4 (they were not) and that issues left out of the Comp Plan in direction to council Monday are unimportant and have disappeared from council attention (they have not).