Letter: Respect the code or change it
November 5, 2015
A friend (yes, I have one) emailed me his congrats on defeating Base2. He had been a supporter of Base2. Presumably he voted in favor. He also said that between the defeat of Base2 and the adoption of Referendum 1 in May, the city is on an anti-development course. This reminded me of another friend (that's two), Dwayne Romero. During one of our pre-election "forums," Dwayne read a letter I had written a couple of years ago admonishing the city for being too hard on developers. Let me illuminate both of my friends on my views of development and what message I hope the city will take from this outcome.
As Ward Hauenstein said, "The voting results show that more people voted 'no' than voted 'yes.'" With typical wit, Ward observed that everyone has a reason for voting a particular way. That's true on Referendum 1 and on Base2. One reason for more "no" votes than "yes" votes was this: The people want the city to adopt a set of land-use rules and then follow them. That happens to be one of the City Council's top 10 goals. I think that would be better for developers than the one-off bargaining over every land-use application. I still think developers have to pay too many fees to the city. I still think the fees are too high. I still think developers face too uncertain a process, just as I did two years ago. With certainty, developers can more intelligently price their real estate purchases and streamline their development activities. And with certainty, there is less need for the people to resort to petitions and elections over land-use issues.
The experiences of the past couple of elections should guide the city toward adopting a land-use code that reflects community values. Perhaps it is time for a citizens' task force to recommend land-use-code changes that the City Council might adopt. Meanwhile, it would help everyone if the City Council would approve only land-use proposals that meet existing zoning restrictions. I don't see that as anti-development. I see it as rational. And everyone would benefit.
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