Apr 13 2011

Opinion: Good Design Review is Essential in Piedmont

A letter urging the Council to return the PRFO’s proposal to the Planning Commission after approval

On Feb. 24, 2011,  the Piedmont Planning Commission found the Blair Park proposal did not meet basic design or aesthetic elements normally required in Piedmont.  On Wednesday, March 2, the Piedmont Post published the first salvo of what was to become the Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization (PRFO) campaign to nullify the Planning Commission.  The central focus of that negative media campaign is the mistaken idea that the Commission is to only make findings on residential property.

The word “residential” does not appear in Piedmont City code (PCC) 25.3.  The Planning Commission’s mandate is to investigate all real property, planning and zoning matters that are “in the best interest of the City (PCC 25.3).”  The fact that the Commission primarily examines residential property is a direct reflection of Piedmont, not  the law.  The Commission is not limited by PCC 25.3 to residential, and the meaning of PCC 25.3 is clear: “you are to promote good design.”  Councilman Wieler took the PRFO script and chose to embellish it at the March 21 Council meeting.  Not only did he dismiss the Planning Commission findings, he characterized the Commission as unqualified.  I disagree.  Piedmont is fortunate to have this group of architects, engineers, a real estate attorney and city planner who act so thoughtfully and give so generously of their time.  No group could be more qualified.  I find Mr. Wieler’s remarks more than unfortunate.  I find Mayor Barbieri’s lack of comment to those remarks equally regrettable, as the Planning Commission  does the work of and directly for the City Council.  In their eagerness to approve the Blair Park proposal, some on the City Council have treated the Commission  with calculated disregard.

Commissioner Thiele’s sensible second motion that, if approved by Council, the Blair Park proposal be sent back to the Planning Commission, must be adhered to.  PRFO has stated that property values in Piedmont will decline if Blair Park is not converted to sports fields. The real threat to property values is PRFO’s attempt to nullify prudent design review and high aesthetic values so their sports complex can replace Blair Park.  This attack on attractive aesthetic quality and careful design review is cynical, self-serving and ultimately destructive for all residents.

Rick Schiller
Piedmont, CA

(This letter expresses the personal opinions of the author. All statements made are the opinion of the writer and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.)

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