LETTER: Review of Path America’s Potala Village Is Delayed with No Reschedule Date

Dear Editor:

Path America and Dargey Development had submitted their design options for review nearly a month ago.  Citizens were feverishly preparing to give the Design review board extensive feedback on each of the PotalaVillage proposals.  


Potala Village EIS VERSION Proposed:  Citizens believe that one of the proposed options went through the EIS process.  They believe it is the version that some called “the Green Monster.”  (Due to EIS choice of color and the MASSIVE monstrous size. EIS consultants clearly stated this version was not in character with the surrounding neighborhood.


Potala Village OPTION 3 Proposed:  Another option proposed for design review actually seemed to provide more generous courtyard and setback from the street. Upon first glance, this seemed to be one of the first movesin the right direction…  But then… the discovery that the building had grown TALLER! The added height seems sure to increase the impact of the oversized building.  Additionally, the extra feet do not appear to be consistent with the zoning code, or within the laws of our city.  

You may recall the extensive work done by the City Planning Commission and the City Council to revamp the rules that regulate ALL Neighborhood Business Zones.  Their work impacts several neighborhoods (BN-Moss Bay, BN1-Rose Hill, MSC2 – Market St, and BNA – Newly Annexed Area).  During work sessions, planning commission meetings and City Council approval, it was suggested that if ground floor commercial were to have a 13 foot height there could be difficulty getting 3 stories and a builder would likely only be able to build two.  The 3 additional feet were to be allowed, when necessary to provide the more desirable 13 foot ground floor without loss of the 3rd story.  This provision is obviously not necessary in the Potala Village proposal that appears to have a 19 foot ground floor!! It appears also to be four stories and not 3!!!  Neighbors were quick to notice claims that the two levels of parking would be above grade and that two levels of residences would be above that.  2 + 2 = 4.


So what could be going on???  Neighbors were ready to review the packet of materials fully prepared by the applicant’s Architect Caron.  Many had cleared their calendars and made travel arrangements to ensure that they could participate in the established process for review.  Some are now stating fears that the developer may be trying to negotiate with the city without the citizen involvement that happens during Design Review.

Could this be the reason that PathAmerica and Dargey Development delayed the review of their proposals? We simply do not know.

By Karen Levenson