Sep 18 2016

Zone Use Changes, Voters Right, Chapter 17 Update at Council Meeting

Little Public Involvement in Zone Use Changes

The Planning Commission did not make a recommendation to the City Council on whether voters or the Council can make final changes to land uses within zones.

The Planning Commission has considered the Planning Department’s proposals with little resident participation.  In our City of over 10,600 residents and over 3,800 households, a total of only 17 individuals have participated in Planning Commission meetings to provide input that impacts all Piedmont property, resident lives, and long term uses of land in Piedmont.  Former Planning Commissioners and the public in general have noted they were unaware of the considerations.

 Changes proposed are vast and long reaching.   Too numerous to list here, but some changes include:

  • reduced parking requirements
  • interchangeable land uses between zones
  • extensions to buildings
  • intensified use and development in the Civic Center (near emergency services and 3 schools)
  • increased staff consideration and approval of proposals
  • elimination of all building requirements for the Public Zone (This includes all public properties.)
  • changed building standards including elimination of privacy attributes.

Voters Right Eliminated Without a Charter Change –

For decades the application and interpretation of the Piedmont City Charter referred to classification and reclassification as land uses within zones requiring voter ratification. Recent proposals by the Planning Department and opinions by Piedmont’s new City attorney takes away the right of Piedmont voters to approve zone land use changes.

The newly devised legal interpretation allows any use to be in any zone as long as the boundary lines are not moved and the City Council approves the land use change. Required voter approval of land use changes have been dismissed without changing the City Charter.

Unlike recent Recreation Department’s outreach to Piedmont residents, important zoning changes have lacked public input – no round table discussions, well attended public meeting, free exchange of ideas between the Planning Commission and residents, or polls and surveys.

The Planning staff will present an update on proposed changes to Chapter 17 at the City Council meeting September 19, 2016  in City Hall.

The staff report can be read here. 

A PCA article on the questioned legal interpretation of land use changes in Piedmont can be read here.

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