LocationAlhambra , CA
The deliberations on the big proposed housing development, The Villages at The Alhambra, dragged on for yet another Planning Commission meeting this week. At the end of the night, even commission members had opposing views of whether to push through the project in one night.
Technical difficulties with Zoom – the phone lines were down – caused the commission to push their consideration of a second, smaller item on the agenda to the next meeting, saying they did not want to censor the public by not giving them the chance to comment on any of the agenda items.
Comment began Tuesday night with 147 letters about The Villages. After sitting through a second night of automated reading of comments, there are 44 remaining emailed comments staff members must read themselves since the city’s computer system cannot to transcribe them for oral reading.
Public comment was again mixed with those who support the housing project and those against it, but the majority of the negative comments were longer and coordinated in message and sometimes verbatim as they had been in past hearings.
In a surprising moment at the end of the meeting, the project’s lawyer Alex DeGood addressed the commission with audible frustration, reinforcing the developer is being “denied basic due process” and asking the commission to “take hold of this process” to end the hours of repetitive public comment.
“We’re in an endless feedback loop,” DeGood said. “There is a concerted effort to ensure that this project will never be heard by this commission,” suggesting that the next commission meeting will end with the same result with yet comments to be read.
City lawyer Greg Murphy held his former position, saying the city does not want to change the public comment procedure mid-project, though “the process has been stretched out longer than any of us would like, I’m sure.”
Murphy also acknowledged the effect a project of this size has on the City of Alhambra, suggesting an expectation and respect of high public involvement. Because the public comment portion of the agenda is still open, comments submitted between now and the next meeting, Sept. 21, will also have to be heard.
When public comment is closed, the developer will be able to make a rebuttal, and commission members will be allowed to ask technical questions and make requests of the developer.