Emery: Poway City Council majority wrong on hillside reviews

Bob Emery
Bob Emery

By Bob Emery

A big boo hiss to the majority of the Poway City Council for discarding a 28-year-old policy that allowed the public and the council to comment on hillside and ridgeline construction.

Though usually approved with little comment over the years, the fact that potential visual and physical impacts could be discussed and modified at public meetings was a protection for Poway’s important viewscape. Council members John Mullin, Steve Vaus along with Mayor Higginson, rallied to the support of developers’ heralding cry of, ”This will save time and money” (read, cut corners for developers). In reality, the council has just cut the public out of the process and turned an important protection of our city’s ridges and hillside over to staff.

A big hip and hooray to council members Jim Cunningham and Dave Grosch for standing with the public on this important issue. “This is a paradigm shift for the city, affecting the ability of citizens to communicate with the council on important issues,” said Cunningham. I couldn’t agree more. As Grosch pointed out, there were other ways of speeding up the process, perhaps “at the beginning and not at the end of the review.”

All in all, it is a sad day when the interests of developers outweighs the public’s right to know and participate.

Another “unimaginative” boo hiss to the City of Poway for bungling a relatively minor upgrade to the boardwalk around the Hamburger Factory and museum in Old Poway Park. A legitimate problem existed where railroad ties were used as stops to keep cars from driving too close to the boardwalk. A number of people have tripped over the ties causing serious injury to themselves. The problem was real, the solutions unreal.

First, the proposed revamp of the boardwalk was put out to bid before it was put on the City Council agenda for approval. The council then debated the plan for nearly an hour and made changes. Now it’s time for change orders. When it came time to start the project, the start date was changed several times. Hamburger Factory owner Phil Spear even closed for an entire day to allow the project to start but no workers showed up and Spear was informed that the start date had been changed again. Granted, there have been rain delays but we are going into the third week (probably four by the time this is printed) with chain link fencing and caution tape barring the entrance to the restaurant. Much more planning with input from those most affected could have saved many, many headaches. The Hamburger Factory is open. Don’t be fooled by all the construction equipment.

A simple boo hiss cannot describe this email post from someone who did not care for my article on my upbeat feeling for America and how bright the future looks. In part, this tea party apologist wrote: “I too am proud to be an American because I know when push comes to shove, the true patriots will come forth with their muskets and gun powder and bring things back to where they should be, metaphorically speaking.” Metaphorical or not, why do these “super patriots” always resort to guns rather than votes as a solution?

Emery is a former member of the City Council.

   
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