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TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL
FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: DECEMBER 17, 2002
SUBJECT: DISBANDMENT OF THE VIEW RESTORATION COMMISSION
Staff recommends that the City Council introduce ordinance No. __, thereby formally disbanding the View Restoration Commission and amending the RPV Municipal Code to transfer its workload and responsibilities to the Planning Commission.
On April 2, 2002 Staff presented an overview of the current View Restoration Process to the City Council. At that time, the Council recognized the success of the Pre-application process in reducing the number of view restoration cases before the View Restoration Commission (VRC), effectively changing the role of the Commission to that of mediating and facilitating the View Restoration Pre-application process. As a result, the City Council made a decision to retire the VRC and instead designate five mediators that would continue to facilitate the Pre-application process and serve as an adjunct to the Planning Commission. In effect, the Planning Commission would hear any view restoration cases that needed City resolution.
The City Council also directed that before the VRC is formally disbanded that the VRC review the existing view restoration guidelines and recommend any changes to improve the process to the City Council. The VRC has completed its review of the View Restoration and Preservation Guidelines and Staff will be presenting the VRC's recommendations as a separate item on this evening's agenda. Therefore, pursuant to previous Council direction, Staff is now bringing this item before the City Council to formally disband the VRC.
Action to disband the VRC
Section 17.02.040 (A) (16) of the City's Development Code, as incorporated from the original Proposition M language, explains the purpose of the VRC. The Section states that "in the event the workload of the VRC declines to an amount deemed by the City Council to make the continuation of the VRC impractical, the City Council shall disband the VRC and transfer its work to the Planning Commission". As previously noted by the City Council, most view restoration cases are now resolved through the Pre-application process leaving relatively few cases to be heard by the entire VRC. Given the circumstances, the continuation of the VRC is no longer practical, and its workload should be transferred to the Planning Commission.
To formally take this action, the City Attorney has drafted the attached ordinance which repeals Section 2.21, which created the VRC, and amends Municipal Code Section 2.20.070 to transfer the workload and responsibilities of the VRC to the Planning Commission.
Transition of VRC workload to the Planning Commission
Upon formal action to disband the VRC, all of its work will be transferred to the Planning Commission. At this time there are five pending cases that will need to eventually be heard by the Planning Commission. However, before any cases are presented to the Planning Commission for action, Staff will first present an overview and orientation of the View Restoration process. The overview will include a Staff report and PowerPoint presentation with before and after photos to illustrate the process. Staff anticipates that the orientation will take place at the Planning Commission's January 14, 2003 meeting. It is also anticipated that the Planning Commission will begin hearing view restoration cases in March 2003.
Role of the Mediation Commissioners
On July 2, 2002, the City Council appointed five current View Restoration Commissioners as Mediation Commissioners. The appointed Mediation Commissioners are as follows: Ms. Neva Drages, Mr. Kenneth Dyda, Mr. Bruce (Bud) Franklin, Mr. Jim Slayden, and Mr. Paul Weber. Staff anticipates that their function in this capacity will remain the same, in that they will continue to participate on a rotational basis in the Pre-application meeting process by attending and facilitating the meetings. Currently, the Mediation Commissioners recuse themselves from VRC hearings that involve the case they attempted to mediate. Therefore, Mediation Commissioners will not need to attend Planning Commission meetings.
Although Mediation Commissioners will not be formal members of the Planning Commission, they will essentially function as an appointed City Board, and therefore, continue to receive invitations to the Community Leaders Breakfast, receive the weekly administrative report (Friday Report), and be eligible to attend the annual Commissioners Institute and any other mediation related seminars.
On June 26, 2002, Mediation Commissioner Bruce (Bud) Franklin submitted a memo to the City Council, which detailed his suggestions as to how the Mediation Commissioners should function. Commissioner Franklin's memo is attached for review.
By formally disbanding the VRC, there will be a reduction in the costs associated with administering the View Restoration and Preservation Program as the need to prepare agendas, packets and minutes for the View Restoration Commission Meetings will be eliminated. Furthermore, there will be a reduction in the number of view restoration Staff members that would need to attend Planning Commission meetings. As a result, Staff anticipates an annual savings of $40,000 to $50,000.
On April 20, 2002, the City Council made a decision to disband the VRC and to appoint five View Restoration Mediators. The Council also decided not to formally disband the VRC until after the Commission had the opportunity to review the existing View Restoration Guidelines and recommend any changes to improve the process. On November 21, 2002, the VRC completed its review of the guidelines and gave Staff direction to present those changes to the City Council for final approval. As a result, Staff recommends that the City Council formally disband the View Restoration Commission and transfer its work to the Planning Commission.
Ordinance No. ___