Jan 25 2011

Story Poles go up in Moraga Canyon

On Friday, February 4, story poles are currently scheduled to be installed adjacent to Moraga Avenue to indicate some aspects of the proposed construction for the Blair Park sports facilities.  Piedmont residents can view the poles from Coaches Field or Alta Avenue or Abbott Way, as well as Moraga Avenue.   Story poles would ordinarily be erected for a 14 day viewing period before a project is heard by the Planning Commission, remaining in place until after the final decision on the project and the period for an appeal process has expired.

However, this project is in an unclear zone between a project undertaken privately and a City funded project.  While a privately initiated construction of this scope would require both the installation and verification of story poles at proponents’ expense prior to a hearing by the Planning Commission, City staff reports that the City will provide the surveyor’s or engineer’s verification that the story poles accurately match the construction drawings.

The City application for private projects reads,

“Story poles are to be erected by the project’s applicant or the applicant’s representative and verified by a California licensed Land Surveyor Licensed California Engineer, along with photographs of the story poles.  The verification shall state that the story poles are in compliance with the proposed application…  Story poles shall be installed to define the outlines of the proposed construction in order to show the proposed height and mass of the construction”

In order to give citizens more information about the proposed project in a fast-moving process, several citizens urged the City Council to have story poles erected before the hearings on Moraga Canyon by the 3 Commissions.

Story poles do not illustrate excavation, a major concern of some opponents of the project.  They also do not indicate tree removal, impervious surface areas, roads, driveways, parking lots, or retaining walls in a yet to be excavated area, major components of this project.  Thus, they cannot indicate the scope and outline of this particular project.

At its December 6, 2010 meeting the City Council unanimously approved Resolution 100 –10, which states:

”Resolved that the City Council refers the certified final EIR for the Moraga Canyon sports facility to the Recreation, Park and Planning commissions for review and recommendations with the understanding that the City Administrator shall prepare the sequencing order in which  this matter is considered by the above referenced Commissions and upon consultation with the Planning Commission make a determination as to whether story poles should be erected in Blair Park.”

The Moraga Canyon sports fields project (not the EIR) was on the agenda of the Recreation Commission’s January 16, 2011 meeting.  It was not on the agenda of the December 13, 2010 or January 10 Planning Commission hearings.  It is not yet known if the project or its EIR or the question of story poles for the project will be on the Planning Commission’s February 14 agenda.

This project, the largest considered by the City of Piedmont in decades in terms of both money and impact, may stretch the City’s administrative abilities to guide and  assure a successful and compatible result.  The Council has not followed the typical process:  to define the project by looking at options and alternatives through a public process involving the various commissions prior to consideration of an EIR.  The current path has led to an ever evolving project, making it difficult for the public to participate in a timely manner.

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