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A Deeper Look At The Planning Board’s Notification Amendments

By Erica Madison

Planning Board’s Design Review staff has put forth an amendment that not only may cut costs, but also decreases citizen’s rights to access notifications.

After a closer look at the Municipal Code amendment put forth by Planning Managers Andrew Thomas and Jason Briggs, a source pointed out, that rather than making it easier for citizen’s to be notified of design applications and the Planning Director’s Final Decision, it actually makes it harder.

The amendment states, that due to financial stress put on the staff to notify the public of major designs, the Planning Board staff would like to change section 30-36.4. Currently whenever a major application is submitted, neighbors within 100 feet of the site are mailed a notice. Once a final decision is made, the Planning Board staff is only required to notify the applicant.

Even though the Planning Board is not required to notify the public of the final decision, a letter is mailed to the neighbors anyway.  Once the neighbors receive the notice, they have 10 days to appeal the decision. This process currently gives citizens 17 days to make comments or appeal the application.

The new amendment that is being proposed suggests, instead of mailing people twice, the staff will place a poster 10 days before a decision is made . Then the staff will mail out a final decision notice to the applicant and neighbors within 100 feet of the site.

Sounds like a good idea.

But what if the notification was posted at the Alameda Towne Centre? Hundreds of posting are up everywhere, making it easy for the notification to get lost amongst other postings.

To make matters worse, the Planning Board staff’s new amendment gives citizens only 10 days to appeal the decision. Plus our sources pointed out, that 3 days should be subtracted for mailing, which gives citizens only 7 days to appeal the decision.

To make things even more suspicious, the original wording of the code is nowhere to be found in the proposed amendment. Anyone can read this amendment on www.ci.alameda.ca.us, and they will see that only the proposed changes are listed. There is no way for anyone to refer to the original document within the amendment.

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