Friends and supporters,
Because of your efforts last year, the City Council agreed to honor citizen-led democracy in Sonoma, and stop the runaway politicizing of the planning commission. Thanks to the leadership of City Council members Agrimonti, Cook and Edwards, the light of transparency now shines on the Planning Commission selection process.
Unfortunately, there still remains an open backdoor for continued politicizing of the Planning Commission: the fact that an appeal of a Planning Commission decision can be filed for only $400. That’s right – the City Planning staff can spend hundreds of hours analyzing a project, the Planning Commission can spend months or even years working on a project, the City attorney, the fire marshal, and City engineer can invest countless hours, and for $400 the entire effort can be undermined by a few loud voices, whether a vocal minority, NIMBYs, or puppets of a political power play. And make no mistake about it, us taxpayers are helping foot the bill for all the wasted City Staff time and legal costs.
This has happened time and again in the past with appeals filed that have no merit – they merely regurgitate issues that have already been considered by the planning commission and force City staff and the City Attorney to waste countless hours defending the Planning Commission’s decision.
Sonoma citizens made it very clear last year that they want to see the City Council respect the work of its Commissions and its City Staff.
On March 1st, the City Council faces its first litmus test to fulfill their promise to support the Planning Commission under the leadership of Mayor Agrimonti in 2018. At that meeting the council will be hearing the appeals, filed by a group of NIMBY neighbors, of 3 single-family home applications, that were approved by the Planning Commission in August and September, after two years of careful review.
When these projects came before the Planning Commission, City staff directed them to evaluate the projects using development standards, a number of design guidelines, and a number of non-quantified objectives. In the Findings of the Project Approval, the commission found that the developments are consistent with the general plan, comply with all applicable standards and regulations of the development code, that the project’s uses are compatible with the existing and future land uses in the vicinity, and that they will not impair the architectural integrity and character of the zoning district surrounding it. They even designated 23 conditions of approval to ensure that their findings are followed.
The appeals are frivolous and reek of NIMBY politics. They are a waste of City Staff’s time and taxpayers’ money. Please consider coming to the City Council meeting on March 1st at 5:00PM in the Community Meeting Room and say no to frivolous and political appeals.
The victim of this latest NIMBY assault, Bill Jasper, Sonoma resident, community leader, and philanthropist, did a very nice video asking friends to help support his thoughtful and beautiful project below. Please take a look.