Since writing my last piece about how to watch a city council or planning commission meeting, I have been contacted by several people who described their negative experience watching the most recent planning commission meeting (Dec. 3). I had seen parts of the meeting and have recently tried to re-watch Item 5A, a city project to make the section of Civic Center Way between Webb Way and Malibu Canyon safer for pedestrians and cyclists. This single item lasted 4.5 hours and resulted in a series of changes that will make the project much more expensive and less safe.
It is apparent that we currently have three extremely dysfunctional planning commissioners. I am forced to the conclusion that their primary objective was to make sure that any project is not built. They have pursued this objective by being unprepared, deliberately misunderstanding the project objectives and using every opportunity to one-up each other, demonstrating their “greeness” by adding lots of frills. They also repeatedly deflected the discussion to relitigate the memorial park (cemetery) project rather than focusing on the matter at hand.
John Mazza took center stage in this buffoonery by citing documents he could not produce, being unable to understand the project drawings that he was holding upside down and repeatedly arguing that staff was wrong as he veered off into yet another foray into the memorial park approval from over a year ago. He was also the leader of the charge to eliminate a three-foot safety fence that would prevent people on an adjoining property from falling 10 feet onto the walking path.
He was supported by Steve Uhring, who is no longer restrained by the responsibility of chairing the commission. Steve dominated at least 30 minutes in with his refusal to understand the purpose of the project (increased safety for pedestrians and cyclists).He is convinced that the purpose was to increase vehicular traffic on Civic Center Way, resulting in increased traffic on Malibu Canyon, making it harder for him to get off his street onto Malibu Canyon Road.
Kraig Hill joined in with various “green initiatives” to prove how “woke” he is. He advocated several high maintenance (expensive) improvements and impressed all with his desire to be the center of attention.
During all this nonsense, Chair Jeff Jennings somehow kept his temper as he tried mightily to herd the cats to a motion that they might deign to vote for so that the two remaining items on the agenda could be heard. He deserves a medal!
Each member of the city council appoints one planning commissioner who serves at his or her pleasure. That means he, or she, can write a very nice letter to the planning commissioner they appointed, thanking them for their contributions and appoint someone else to fill the slot. I urge Jefferson Wagner, Skylar Peak and Mikke Pierson to do so as quickly as possible.