I ask people why they do not attend City Council meetings and their reply is often, “It doesn’t matter what we say, they do what they want.” Well you can add a few more business owners to that list of people, it was exactly what they said as they were leaving the Council meeting tonight. Councilman Corbin mentioned unintended consequences tonight, referencing the expansion of the parking requirements for downtown. He said that people are parking in the paved parking lots, even when frequenting the businesses without improved parking lots. He felt that this would increase and encourage this if the code reduces parking required for all those listed in the downtown area. Public comments: Grove Crank spoke in favor of amending the development code to lift parking requirements for the downtown area. He stated that it would solve all the problems for downtown businesses. The amendment passed 4-1. Corbin being the only no vote.
The Review of the Draft Downtown Economic Revitalization Specific Plan did draw a crowd and a few business owners spoke during the public comments. The business owners all expressed their desire for the City Council to revisit the points that Council member Corbin brought up. Such as the required 16 feet wide sidewalks, which will be prohibitive to businesses old and new. The non-conforming buildings that Jay mentions as a concern in his letter to staff are the buildings with a drive through that are not allowed under the new Downtown Economic Revitalization Plan. So sorry Jack-n- The Box, McDonald’s and the bank, you are now non-conforming businesses. In addition the plan includes the City Hall and the Library, relocating. The spot wasn’t specified, but I wonder could it be the community center, if it turns out that the building just can’t get 9 million dollars to be all it can be? Also, the plan requires additional business license fees, prohibits chain link fences, and also includes development fees for Public Art. It seems that this Downtown Economic Revitalization Plan contains a lot of things that slipped by both the Planning Commission and the City Council. Last time I looked the citizens of 29 were at the top of the chart and then the City Council and then the City Manager and then Staff. I think the tail is wagging the dog, and the dog is enjoying the breeze, but it stinks from where I am sitting.
Some council members stated that they wanted to pass it and then go back and study it in-depth because the GP can be amended up to 5 times a year. Staff brought up the dead line with the state housing department, but I say this information should have been given to the council long before now, so that the pressure of time and money would not be an influencing factor in the decision. Public comments were let’s do it right and right now.
One unintended consequence of tonight’s meeting is the growing awareness of the dysfunctional relationship between the staff, the planning commission, and the city council. Some think Corbin wants this to be the “Corbin Plan” and thats why the GP has been stalled and that tonight was just another example, but others believe that the staff runs the show and 4 of the 5 councilmen are allowing the staff to make the decisions in this town. In addition, another ploy that we may have fallen victim to is the National Park sign. Maybe they trotted out the first sign with sheep and a 120,000 price tag, that anyone with two brain cells to rub together agrees it is ridiculous, so when they trot out a more reasonable sign, the public will agree and appreciate the thriftiness of our council.
Anyway you slice it, tonight the people of 29 palms lost.