In a clear attempt to avoid public scrutiny of their massive project, the Developer pressured the City to cancel the regular public Planning Commission Study Session and replace it with a lobbyist-hosted meeting in which public comments were discouraged or sidestepped. Public Study Sessions are a standard civic practice to allow the Planning Commission and community to become more familiar with large projects and their numerous impacts. Cancellation of a public Study Session and replacement with a lobbyist-hosted sales pitch is an inappropriate trick that diminishes the public's ability to become informed about a project as part of a fair and transparent public process.
In a second unethical maneuver, the Developer then pressured City staff to fast-track the project to a full Planning Commission hearing during the holidays, when it would be certain that few people could attend to provide community input. City staff requested that the Planning Commission schedule its hearing for this giant project without the customary public Study Session on a date during the boat parade or, alternatively, December 21st - just before Christmas.
Several Planning Commissioners were not duped, noting that cancelation of a Study Session was very unusual and asking why such a large project was being rushed through the public process during the holidays.
Nonetheless, a substantial public outcry was needed to reinstate the Planning Commission Study Session on January 18th. This ordeal has made it clear that certain elected officials are working with the Developer and its lobbyist to attempt to force through these giant condo towers as quickly as possible.
Will the Planning Commission and City Council fulfill its civic duty to take a hard look at this project, or will they act as a rubber stamp? The City's actions thus far leave much to be desired by the public that depends on them.
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