LETTER | Potala Village – Complaints Must be In Writing or by Testimony at Aug 24th Meeting

Dear Editor:

The Posted Notice for Potala Village Design Response Conference states that anyone who does not write to the City or speak at the August 24th hearing will not be allowed to appeal the project!!!  Keeping in mind that there have been HUNDREDS of citizens voicing opposition, this is s a recipe for many long days and nights of reading by the Design Review Board Members and a VERY VERY VERY LONG Public Meeting.  It is not good enough to just show up you must speak to preserve appeal rights – Previously written letters have been held back from the Design Review Board and not shared. Those signing petitions are also said to not qualify as candidates who can appeal (Keep in mind that this is the City’s comment.  It is unclear if this barrier to citizen rights would be upheld by courts). 

Recently, the Design Review Board has been limiting comments to 3 minutes which seems to be a new departure from past meeting tapes we’ve reviewed.  As one can imagine, 3 minutes is insufficient time to scrape the surface of what the Citizens find objectionable.  There are parts of the proposal believed to be incompatible with the changed zoning.  There are Comprehensive Plan conflicts and there seem to be no attempts to address items identified for mitigation by the Final Environmental Impact Statement. 

Having the DRB restrict comments seems at odds with the websites claim that DRB “encourages public comment” and wants to hear the concerns of the public.  Also, it is concerning that the developer can share his “sales pitch” for a very long time and then take a second “at bat” once public comment is closed.  Prior to the Conceptual Design Conference, citizens had asked about the measurements of the building footprint.  These were left off of the DRB packet.  The developer held that information back until the public had commented and public comment was closed. In their second opportunity to “pitch” the project they dropped the bombshell.  The footprint would be much bigger than the project that went through DRB review.  At this point the audience was muzzled with audience comments closed!

Many Citizens saw the unit count decrease from 143 to 59 and may wonder why concern remains.

Here’s what seems to have happened – Compared to the project that was submitted to the EIS for review, the current proposal appears to be bigger and more concerning than original concept:

1) Taller, 2) Greater Lot Coverage,3) Closer to neighboring properties and lot lines,  4) Less “Neighborhood Compatibility” in Design Character, 5) Shadow Issues impacting usability of the “Community Gathering Area” Courtyard and Sidewalks6) Shadow negatively impacting the Sun PV Residences and Neighbor Properties,  7) Windows staring into neighbor bedroom windows, 7) Insufficient “token” Neighborhood Businesses, and more.

Karen Levenson