What could have been different? In January of this year when emotions were running high in the Allied Arts neighborhood, the council members who voted to approve the specific plan in June 2012 could have stepped forward and shown their humanity. Council members Peter Ohtaki, now mayor, Kirsten Keith and Rich Cline voted on June 5, 2012, to review the specific plan in one year.
Mr. Cline used his common sense and admitted right fast that Stanford's proposal was not even close to his expectations and he encouraged a review of the specific plan. Unfortunately, he did not get the enthusiastic support from his colleagues. Instead, the residents experienced a push-back that included delay, argument and obfuscation. The subcommittee process turned out to be unilateral and top-down with residents being shut out of all conversations with Stanford. One can only wonder the number.
What is the damage? Today the number of disappointed and angry residents has grown and the mistrust is deep. This could have been avoided and may now hamper the pending specific plan revision process at the Planning Commission and the council. What should have been promised in January and begun in June was a process that could have stressed fairness and mutual respect. I've lived here long enough to know that we now have an environment that can produce a political sea change. It's happened before and this issue is fraught with frustration.
What is the solution? The council needs to show grace and gratitude to the hundreds of residents who have spoken and written to them. These are their constituents, the people who voted them onto the seats they hold. Work with them, listen to their ideas and include them in decisions that will affect their lives.