"Substantial progress was made in closing the gap between staff recommendations as reflected in the original agenda bill for the council's meeting of Jan. 10 and the implementation plan developed last fall by the [design review] task force," task force chair Matt Lawson said.
One change that appealed to the council, the task force and the planning commission in its review of the plan was the restructuring of the appeals process.
The plan replaced de novo appeal hearings with some form of a "substantial test," more akin to a court appellate process.
With a few exceptions, the council accepted the compromise plan as presented.
Among the changes also approved:
* Include funding ($176,000) for two new employees in the planning department, plus space for them and their equipment. They will be called in on all projects with variances, a habitable area of 4,500 square feet or more or additional stories.
Iseman voted against the recommendation, suggesting a lower threshold.
"The biggest, most contentious hearing we had was on a 2,100-square-foot [project] that replaced a 1,600-square-foot house," Iseman said.
* Televise the hearings.
* Eliminate concept review (an exploratory hearing).
* Limit review hearings to two per project, with the possibility of a third meeting if the board decides it would be valuable.
* Require a two-month hiatus before new plans can be submitted after a City Council denial.
* Extend the staking period to 28 calendar days prior to the project hearing.
* Certification that documents submitted for projects are true, accurate and complete.
* More training for board members.
* Enact a code of conduct for project applicants and opponents and board members.
Design board members, who reviewed the plan in November, felt the adoption of "codes of conduct and procedure" were insulting to applicants and community members. The codes seemed to the board to imply that design review participants are incapable of telling the truth or conducting themselves in an acceptable fashion. Board members claimed that rude behavior is the exception, not the rule, and those who act inappropriately are unlikely to respond or conform to any code.
* Standard disclosure statement to be included in the real property report on the possible effects of design review on development.
Mayor Elizabeth Pearson-Schneider recommended a disclosure statement be signed by each purchaser of property.
For later implementation: Staff will develop a mission statement for the board and a design review brochure.
Staff will be added starting July 1. The changes will be reviewed in January 2007.