‘Community Groups Do Not Represent the Community’

‘Community Groups Do Not Represent the Community’

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Developments like this one in Allied Gardens, which is on its way to becoming an apartment complex for seniors, often get labeled as controversial or unpopular based on a hearing before a community planning group.

I made a mistake last week during an interview with Ted Smith, a celebrated local architect and co-chair of the Master of Real Estate Development program at the Woodbury School of Architecture.

The Golden Hill community, I said, didn’t like a modern condo building at the corner of 26th and B streets, called K Lofts, built by Smith’s long-time colleague Jonathan Segal.

I was regurgitating conventional wisdom, but Smith took exception.

“I’ve heard that a few times, and it’s absolute bullshit,” he said. “That building is loved by so many people.”

The distinction he was drawing: Some members of the Golden Hill community group – one of more than 40 citywide elected groups tasked with reviewing development decisions in their neighborhoods and giving a recommendation to the city – had issues with the project. That doesn’t mean the community as a whole didn’t like it.

“If there’s anything that is good to be said, it’s that community groups do not represent the community,” Smith said. “I don’t care what they think; they represent the private interests of individual people.

“I do not want you to mix up community and community group. A community group is that rare and small group of people, a community is everyone else, and they tend to stay home, live their lives and mind their own business.”

Smith’s view of community planning groups is sure to stoke some controversy, but he made a lot of other provocative comments, too:

The fact that K Lofts has taken a hit in a few conversations I’ve heard, and then has been memorialized as something Golden Hill doesn’t like is a farce. It’s not true at all. How many people actually say that, and the next thing you know people say that’s the truth? The bottom line is — and it’s the same of all community groups — is three people out of thousands who were on the community group didn’t like K Lofts, and they don’t represent that community, and nor do the community groups represent the community.

That’s the sick thing about the system. They don’t represent the community. The people who love architecture and love density and understand that the world is going to hell because of suburban development are a very large group of people at this point. And they don’t necessarily think they need to spend their time going out to fight the battles of their selfish neighbors that are just worried about their own property rights.

And so there’s a million people out there who don’t participate in these community groups. The community groups are just in nature, because of the people who populate them, most often naysayers. So we keep saying ‘the community’ and we make this mistake of saying the community is a community group. And the community group has nothing to do with the community. It represents the 10 people who decided something was going to bother their particular needs and decided to show up and become a community group. And that needs to be said. The community groups are really a farce. They don’t represent the community in any way. They represent private individuals who are thinking about private problems. They’ll couch their argument in all sorts of language that sounds like they’re interested in the community.

Joe LaCava, chair of a citywide group that assists community planning boards, acknowledged that community planning groups may not be totally representative, but said the overwhelming majority of the time, the system works just fine.

“The authority they have is directly tied to how credible they are when they go to Planning Commission or City Council,” he said. “If they’re not credible, they don’t have any authority at all.”

LaCava also said a lack of communication between City Hall and the local groups after the City Council goes against a group’s recommendation instills a sense that groups are on their own, that they need to defend their area because no one else will.

Nonetheless, he said the system is mostly effective.

“Let’s not get caught up in the few projects that go sideways,” he said.

Leo Wilson, chair of Uptown Planners, one of the city’s most well-attended community planning groups, said anyone unhappy with the performance of a particular group is welcome to run for a spot in the group and change its course.

“There’s always this appeal to the hidden majority. Nixon did it,” he said. “But the people who are active on boards are usually active throughout the community.”

One of the best values a community group can bring, Wilson said, is working directly with the applicant of a controversial project to work out any issues before it goes to City Council, so the Council never has to vote on an unresolved issue.

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Andrew Keatts

Andrew Keatts

I'm Andrew Keatts, a reporter for Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at andrew.keatts@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0529.

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118 comments
Richard Ross
Richard Ross subscribermember

Interesting comments it reminds one does the members of the city council listen to and represent the public ....or to thier campaign contributors?

Walter Chambers
Walter Chambers subscribermember

I agree and disagree with Mr Smith. K Lofts are awful. The building puts a wall to the street, killing any street life and harming the social fabric of the neighborhood. It never ceases to amaze me that so many architects - even good ones - still don't understand their responsibility to the public realm and how to realize it in building form. However, I agree, CPGs do not represent the people of their communities. Here's how one gets elected to the CPG here in Uptown. Special Interest groups put up their candidate(s) and then get people from their organization to come and vote for their candidate. Sometimes upwards of 200 people show up on voting day - a big difference from the 30 or so that regularly attend. Furthermore, it is my experience that most of these elected CPGs know little about urban design or urban planning. They are there to protect their special interest. Even though Uptown is widely perceived to be a "progressive" community, the Uptown CPG has repeatedly been anti-progressive; it voted for the Jacobs Plan for Balboa Park; it voted to downzone most of Uptown; it voted to put a fixed height limit on buildings in Uptown - without discretionary appeal; and just last month it came out fighting against good bicycle facilities in Uptown. With this type of anti-smart growth, anti-bicycle voting record, one can only assume that the group may be Climate Change deniers as well. Lastly, I find it extremely ironic that VOSD chose to quote Leo Wilson -- a person who was not elected to the Uptown CPG, (he was appointed), and then pulled off nothing short of a political coup to once again become president of the group. Now THAT would be a story to look into and report on.

John Pilch
John Pilch subscriber

Joe makes many good points and planning group members should pay attention to his words. The reality of the situation between community planning groups (CPG) and the community is quite easy to understand. The CPG members ask for input from the community and community groups, listen to it, sometimes actually hear it, and then say thanks for your input, but know better and we'll vote our way, generally due to being CPG members and knowing more than the community does. Don't agree? Then, attend a CPG meeting in your community and see and hear for yourself. Remember, these folks allegedly represent you in making land-use decisions to be heard by the Planning Commission, City Council or both.

Omar Passons
Omar Passons subscribermember

Joe had a good point, Andy. This article begs for a follow up on regional, statewide and national models (or local ones) that might improve the process. It's fine to highlight Ted Smith's opinion, but it would be even better to read something that forces people to consider alternatives (in whole or in part) to the current system. And arms us with the knowledge about what is working elsewhere. The most fascinating work might be going on right in our back yards. The Center for Civic Engagement of the San Diego Foundation is about to embark on a civic technology initiative, hopefully underpinned by a program called Crowdbrite, that will enable everyone in a community to more easily get some baseline level of information about an issue and "vote" without having to spend all Tuesday night after work at a Community Planning Group meeting. This could be really incredible stuff and I hope people pay attention when it comes. By the way, in an ironic twist, the biggest backer of this effort at better engaging community members? You guessed it, real estate developer Malin Burnham. His massive support to create a center geared towards empowering people, at least some of whom probably made his projects more difficult over the years, is an example of real statesmanship in my view. Andy, if you haven't talked to BH Kim about this project I strongly encourage it. It just may blow up the whole current model in the best possible ways while preserving the pieces that work well.

shawn fox
shawn fox subscriber

How much power do CPGs really have? Considering that people have to work 40-50 hours per week, take care of family, pay bills, research candidates before all of the many elections, and so forth is it any surprise that most don't partcipate in CPG meetings? I agree with Eric, that the proper purpose of a CPG is to look for red flags but it is not reasonable to expect every member of a community to be involved in CPGs on a regular basis. To suggest that people within a system of self gov't aren't willing to do the work is rubbish. Moreover, do we really have the system of gov't that the founders envisioned? Well it depends on which one of them you are referring to. Alexander Hamilton began working against the constitution almost immediately while others like Jefferson and Madison believed that very little gov't was necessary. Would the founders even support the existence of CPGs? Who knows. Personally, I'm not convinced that they are necessary or useful. As Bill correctly points out the cost - benefit doesn't seem to be favorable unless you stand to make significant financial gains from something that the CPG is involved in. There are also these things called town councils. What sway do they have? Very little. Everyone has to prioritize their time accordingly.

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

The problem with self government, as established by our founding fathers, is that it requires a lot of time and attention. Today, most citizens simply aren’t willing to do it, so they expect “experts” to look out for their interests and are frustrated when these people end up favoring their own interests. Community planning groups are a classic example of this dilemma. In order to get participation, communities allow developers, architects, real estate agents and other self interested people to dominate the proceedings. They bring more “expertise” than the average resident possesses, so their financial interest in the outcomes are ignored in order to comply with often complex rules city bureaucrats create. Self government is the best system, but only to the extent citizens are willing to get involved. It’s axiomatic that in most group endeavors 1% of the people do 90% of the work, but here the rewards are obvious and significant. My wife has been a member of our local planning group for several years, and will soon leave because the time demands are simply disproportionate to the results unless you stand to gain financially, which she doesn’t.

Matt Finish
Matt Finish subscriber

Since nobody else noted it in the comments, I will. Ted Smith comes off sounding like a real elitist with this statement: "selfish neighbors that are just worried about their own property rights" How dare someone work most of their life to acquire, maintain and improve their property. That would make them selfish! What's next, they aren't paying their "fair share"? I can't take this guy seriously with comments like that.

Erik Bruvold
Erik Bruvold subscribermember

There is a famous (well at least famous among the 10,000 or so practicing Political Science academics in America) article by San Diego's own McCubbins and Cox that is worth thinking about in this respect. Essentially they argue that one of the functions of many groups empowered by legislative bodies is to set off "fire alarms" so that the legislatures themselves, overwhelmed by demands on their time, don't have to go out and monitor every little decisions. If something creates a "fire" in the community, the alarm goes off and the legislator can pay attention. That is really what WELL functioning CPG do - they vet projects and the ones that are going to be a real problem set off a big fire alarm forcing the council/councilmember to pay attention. That is where Joe L. is so on point. When CPGs work hard to maintain their credibility and act with prudence, they really are effective in calling attention to serious problems. When they start complaining about EVERYING (or getting off subject and task), they really are ineffective and do not serve ANYONE's interest. They can't set off fire alarms that are paid attention to. A good example occurred about 10 years ago. The Peninsula Planning group was essentially taken over by NTC critics who wanted to re litigate that project and which held a much different vision for the property. Nothing wrong, necessarily with that, except that the city essentially stopped listening to ANYTHING the PCG had to say. Conversely, groups like the UCPG have spent decades working hard to be seen as a credible community observer, meaning that when they think a project stinks the council pays attention and puts effort into seeing if there is a way to get all parties on the same page.

William Smith
William Smith subscribermember

Obviously people on community planning groups will have more interest in community planning than most people in the community. If that makes them unrepresentative, so be it. As for the specific condo, from the picture I saw, I thought it looked great, but I have not seen in context.

tarfu7
tarfu7 subscribermember

Maybe Mr. Smith is correct that the Golden Hill planning group doesn't represent the community on this issue. Short of a 100% mandatory vote, it's pretty difficult to tell for sure. But then... why are we supposed to believe that Mr. Smith's opinion on this issue DOES represent the community? As a rebuttal to the planning group's opinion, Mr. Smith offers his own assertion about "a large group of people" who "love architecture and love density." Well, how does Mr. Smith know that THIS is the will of Golden Hill? Because he personally knows "a large group of people" who feel that way? I'm not saying that I agree or disagree with this particular project. But it seems pretty illogical to claim that elected groups don't represent the community, and then proceed to offer your own completely unsubstantiated opinion on what the community actually wants. As far as I can tell from the article, Mr. Smith has no basis to claim that HIS opinion represents the community any better. At least the planning group was elected.

Joe LaCava
Joe LaCava subscribermember

Community dialogue on land use and development is all about the tension between the business-minded developer; the architect/designer looking to add to their portfolio; community leaders focusing on a project’s contribution to their neighborhood; neighbors who will have to live with a new project; advocacy groups; community planning group; city decision-makers; and, observers/critics/pundits of the built environment. Each have their role to play when a project is proposed as our neighborhoods go through the slow evolution (and occasional revolution) of (re)development. That tension is a good thing. Community dialogue allows us to explore our values, our aspirations, and our vision. That local dialogue takes place primarily at community planning group meetings. We all have the opportunity to participate; regrettably too few take the time. I believe that 95% of the time the dialogue and the process of community planning groups work and it works well. It’s the occasional project or issue that gets the headline and the talk of the town. We should learn from those isolated events but should not be distracted by them. And we should celebrate when the process works. A one-off complaint as captured by the article doesn't advance the conversation or make the process better. Was the planning group biased or didn't judge the project on regulatory conformance? Was the developer/designer unwilling to offer changes to find a compromise? The article doesn't speak to that. I have friends that like the project, you have friends that don’t. Interesting, but not helpful to the deliberations or improving the process. “Community planning groups don’t reflect the Community.” What does that mean? When I was first elected to my CPG, one of the wisest observations I heard came from an architect who said something to the effect of, “I got involved because I thought good projects were being unfairly delayed; instead, I ended up having to vote for what I thought were bad projects because they otherwise met the requirements of the community plan and the land development code.” Is a planning group a spokesperson for their community? Do they vote based on who shows up at the meeting or how many emails/letters they receive? Are they judges in a popularity contest? Of course not. Are they design review or judges in a beauty contest. No. They are duly elected individuals empowered to make a recommendation based on the community plan and the land development code. And that authority from the City Council comes with a lot of strings—Brown Act, Robert’s Rules, etc. That’s the challenge and the opportunity of planning groups. A developer/applicant/designer must understand that going in. Can planning groups do better? Of course. Can applicants/designers try harder? Yes. Can the City provide better technical support? Yes. Is the system broken or sick? Hardly, but we all can do better. There is context to the issues raised in the article. Systemic issues in our current city processes. Little to no feedback by City Hall to communities and neighbors. Permit processes that are too complex and expensive. Regulations that are more focused on preventing what we don’t want instead of encouraging what we do want. And neighborhood code compliance that is relegated to a reactive role instead of being proactive. We can argue about what has shaped planning groups, recount the baggage of the past, or point fingers. Instead, let us move beyond the rhetoric and take an honest look at where planning groups and the process are today and move forward. With a new focus on Neighborhoods First and a new planning director we must get to meaningful and productive dialogue. The City was innovative in developing the planning group system in the 1960s. Let’s continue to build on that innovation. CPGs work. Let’s help them work better.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Community planning groups are special interest groups, they are not the voice of the community and they get infiltrated by people with agendas. The vast majority of people in a community don't have the time to deal with these groups and issues, and their voice is silent. Mostly all they want is good roads and infrastructure and relief from the oppressive, expensive, and incompetent government that builds dependence as a form of power for the ruling elite. Politicians love community groups because they give an easy way to claim they have community involvement, and they are easily stacked to favor an agenda and bypass the majority will of a community. A "community" group is as much about "community" as a "peace" officer is about "peace".

Bruce Coons
Bruce Coons subscriber

Planning groups are elected by their communities to represent them.Planning groups know the issues in their community. If there are members of some groups that don't represent the community, then the community needs to elect members that do. We need more involvement of the community in these planning decisions, not less. The visibility of these groups needs to be much higher so the residents know they have a voice. The Planning Commission should have to make findings to override the decision of the local planning groups instead of just ignoring them. There are upwards of 100 or more elected planning group members to every council person elected. These members are all volunteer and spend countless hours reviewing projects that do not to conform to code or adopted plan. These are the only elected officials between the residents and the council members. Communities have the ultimate right to decide what they are going to look like. As the Supreme Court has put it, communities have the right to be beautiful. This is the foundation of all of our zoning and preservation laws.

Joshua Brant
Joshua Brant subscriber

I remember going to the Circle K before it was redeveloped. It was your typical frumpy little quick-e-mart type of place. I don't understand why anyone would prefer that to the new building.

Joshua Brant
Joshua Brant subscriber

I'd guess he lives in Little Italy, and I guarantee he doesn't live in some master planned community of Mcmansions.

Fred Schnaubelt
Fred Schnaubelt subscriber

For anyone who wants to know why there are slums in cities simply look to community planning groups and zoning. The life and death of communities depend on blood, new blood to revitalize them. Community Planning groups drain them of vitally need blood, they say to maintain their character (as their communities deteriorate into slums rather than allow new, modern incremental free market development and revitalization.

David Hall
David Hall subscriber

The only one spreading bullshit is Ted Smith. He can take his rats-in-a-case density somewhere else.

Dale Peterson
Dale Peterson subscribermember

"Community groups do not represent the community." I agree. In the case of the Mission Valley and Navajo Planning Groups the majority of the members are employees, or owners, of businesses within the building and leasing industries. They have all been elected by the "communities." So, that is all above board and the will of the majority of apathetic residents. Reads like Ted Smith needs to roundup some of his business buddies and pack the Golden Hill Community Planning groups election with business friends who "are on the clock" to circumvent citizens who live in that community. Simple and basic rule of democracy. If you don't like the representation, quit bitching about it and do something about your perception of that reality.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

Whenever there is a diversity of opinion in a community about an issue, of course no single member "represents the community." Isn't that why each group contains several members? In principle, although perhaps not always in practice, that allows for various perspectives to be heard. Unless there is an even smaller, less diverse unit that could be formed for electing members, the present process seems desirable. And subdividing the community group into increasingly smaller units (for example, allowing only people living within 300 feet of a property to advise about its use) alters the meaning of neighborhood/community.

Cory Briggs
Cory Briggs subscribermember

So people elected to represent a community do not reflect the values and desires of the individuals who make up that community? Assuming that's true: (1) Why bemoan planning groups when the same problems exist at every level of elected government? Is the planning commission or even DSD staff better? Neither of them is elected, and in staff's case their jobs are dependent on developers. (2) Is the solution to planning-group opposition more democracy or less? (3) If planning groups are out of touch with the communities they represent, are the critics equally critical of decisions to support projects that community members oppose? The critique in this article seems flimsy.

Omar Passons
Omar Passons subscribermember

I'm glad to see you running a story like this. Even though I think Mr. Smith mistakenly paints all groups with the same brush, he's certainly right that we have our fair share of people who don't represent the community on our groups. Or, maybe more accurately, represent views shared by small numbers of the community. It's worth noting, I think, that many of the issues Community Planning Groups wrestle with aren't things that the silent majority to which he refers even think about - let alone have a well-formed opinion. This isn't a bad thing, necessarily, but let's not make the sweeping generalization that everyone has an opinion about parking ratios and the ideal standard for park space. These things require an investment in time and I've seen the massive amount of hours my neighbors on our planning group put in to understand the pros and cons on these issues. Maybe I'm wrong that many of my neighbors agree with me on cycle tracks and making North Park as bike friendly as possible. I've got two Facebook pages, dozens of interactions across my community and a couple years worth of emails that suggest people like me are fairly representing some of the views of our community on these groups. If there's one take away, in my view, it's that despite there being some truth in Mr. Smith's assertion, it fails to take into account the significant efforts across our communities not just to study the issues, but to engage neighbors and carry their thoughts into our advisory votes as well as our own.

Cindy Conger
Cindy Conger subscriber

@John Pilch John, thank you, you are so correct.  It amazes me that so many 'criticize' who are lame to be 'involved' themselves.  Just shows the truth in the quote:  "A good man fights for himself and his; a Great man fights for everyone else." Philip DeFranco  If you haven't done something proactively, in my opinion, you don't have the right to criticize those that do.  We've seen both here...developers and architects running our community, making decisions without few aware...and individually, for several terms, 8-12 citizens did get involved and turned what could have been 100 times worse, into what it is...not perfect, but still able to be more of what we envisioned as a community.  I will say, as well, after having worked in our community 27 years ago to Keep Dana Jr. High for a school, and again being threatened 25 yrs. later, the younger generation would be wise to learn more ...so as to not to have to 'reinvent the wheel.'  Sometimes there is a 'better mousetrap'..and our Media conversations can be part of that.

Andrew Keatts
Andrew Keatts author

How often do we write one article about something and abandon it? This is one story-- not even a story, really-- sharing Smith's opinion and providing a little bit of context. It doesn't preclude writing about other elements of the conversation. A single story that discussed every issue or argument within the community planning process would be 10,000 words and read by no one.

Cindy Conger
Cindy Conger subscriber

@Bill Bradshaw

Yet, where will we be, Bill, if she or I weren't 'involved?'  No Dana Middle School, not much of 'public space' at NTC...I look at it like this:  "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over lousy fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average of the worldss great civilizations before they decline has been 200 years. These nations have progressed in this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to Complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage." Alexander Tyler  So it's up to all of us, including you...as you get more time, as experienced in the 5 of 7 years I served on different committees, & as Chair of our CPG...we can get lots of things 'under control' and acceptable to our community, just takes a little time by a few...less time with many.  You don't just 'do it yourself' though, you 'let other in' on the discussions...a lot easier now than it was 27 years ago last month!


Carrie Schneider
Carrie Schneider subscribermember

Self government is unrealistic, that's why we have a system of representatives. The community planning groups, however don't meet this standard. The voting for the members in my area does not include all the people in the planning area, only those few who attend the meeting.

Andrew Keatts
Andrew Keatts author

What leads you to believe this is a one-off story? It's neither the first nor last Voice of San Diego story on the community planning process.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

Jones--It isn't all about you. I quoted someone else's statement claiming "all" and objected to it. I don't care what you write or think, as I discount it all.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

I am questioning the "[a]ll of the members" claim, nothing more, and nothing less. It might be correct, but seems unlikely. Put up, or shut up!

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

Mr. Jones--In other words, you feel free to make unsupported accusations, knowing that it is unlikely anyone will check their veracity. Perhaps that is why your ideology-driven criticisms of nearly everything are so poorly received here.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Lets start with Blair Ward, who is often, according to minutes, the only GHCDC rep listed in attendance at planning commission meetings. Is this the same Blair Ward who is with Golden Hill Place and is currently trying to build more profitable student housing? I believe it is, but don't have time to verify this stuff for a neighborhood I don't give a rats behind about. Shame we don't have a news agency doing a story on this, if that was the case and if they had even mediocre reporters they would list the full affiliations and special interests of the GHCDC members.

James Weber
James Weber subscriber

David Cohen--All of the members of the Golden Hill and Uptown Planners groups are associated with the entities that Jim Jones lists. Please prove that they are not.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

The hypothetical construct "the community interest" can be represented only by the intersection point of all the diverse, so-called "special" interests. There is no non-special interest apart from that.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

No, you see it from one side of the fence, the special interest side that pervades these groups. You have a dog in the fight that is served by a so called community group that negotiates between the city that wants to pander and raise taxes and fees, the unions who want PLA's, the NIMBY's and the tree huggers and everyone else with $$$ or religion, but ignores the community at large. Community groups do not represent the community. Those involved with them are seeking a bypass around the community at large, for their own interests.

Joe LaCava
Joe LaCava subscribermember

My own interests? I am a land development consultant so I see the issue from both sides of the fence.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Joe, as Chair of the San Diego Community Planners Committee you really couldn't be expected to take any stance but one that serves your own interests, could you? The reason for a lot of the issues you mention, the maze of regulation, the lack of communication, the failure (occasional or systemic, I believe systemic) of community planning to benefit the communities at large is in part due to the hijacking of "community" by special interests masquerading as a community group. The system is broken, it only serves the self serving, and if all the community groups went away tomorrow I believe the average community member would likely be better served and the quality of life would improve.

David Crossley
David Crossley subscriber

Except for the community groups that are not in favor of a politician's pet projects(s).

Joshua Brant
Joshua Brant subscriber

This building replaces an actual commercial building and you don't like the new building because it looks commercial. Ironic. Like you said, it's aesthetics and there will always be differing opinions. Segal was not the architect or developer for the 900 F Street apartments you're referring to, the architect for that project was Colkitt&Co I believe. You criticize Ted Smith for not having a poll to back up his statement that the building is loved by so many people, but you yourself presumed that the neighbors may well have preferred a different style with nothing to back that up. On the other hand, I would speculate that the neighbors may be glad that they no longer have a liquor store on their block (and no I didn't conduct a poll.) I was just trying to highlight the fact that the new building is much more attractive than what it replaced.

Judith Swink
Judith Swink subscriber

Mr. Brant - on what do you base your assumption that people in the community would prefer the former quick-e-mart to the current building just because they dislike the new building? It seems to me that neighbors may well have preferred a new building in a different architectural style. I can't say that I like the new building either - it looks like a commercial building, not residential, and clashes "loudly" the residential housing surrounding it. I would add, though, that it looks a lot like the residential multi-unit housing that Segal (I'm pretty sure it was him) built on F Street btwn 9th & 10th downtown. I'm also curious about Ted Smith's statement that "That building is loved by so many people". Did he take a poll? Stand on the sidewalk in the vicinity and ask people? Nonetheless, the issue is moot and everyone is entitled to their opinion - I just looked at it in Street View/Google Earth and it's there in the February, 2011, image. The young street trees and site landscaping must have grown sufficiently by now to soften the angles of the buildings a bit.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

David, you ask for special interest, I showed you special intrest. If you can't accept that gracefully (and it appears you can't) it only makes you appear as a person uninterested in truth or facts. Fine by me.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

David, I never said all members, and I showed the only member that I saw mentioned in the PC minutes is a developer. That proves me correct, 100% of my sample group of the GHSDS is special interest. You can continue to try to sidestep this simple fact with pointless demands that I research every member, but really, most people will accept that a community group like any other single focus group attracts people with agendas. Unless we resort to random press gangs the majority of people motivated enough to get on these groups are doing so out of their own self interest rather than the combined will of the community.

Matt Finish
Matt Finish subscriber

David, you are deliberately playing dumb here, and it shows. Are you honestly arguing that every project is not littered with the people that Jim notes? Can you really say there aren't always unions who want exorbitant wages through PLAs, environmentalists who sue every project into the ground at the drop of a hat, and the NIMBYs who don't want anything built at all? You know better. Further, I believe VOSD prohibits posting links in the comments, so there's no real way a person can back up what they say here with links/data, as it will just get removed. "News" sites don't allow it because every opinion/propaganda piece they write will quickly get disproven via links in the comments.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

David, I understand that you don't like that I gave you the proof, but you can't in good conscience deny that Blair Ward is a developer making money on building rental property for transient school kids, and Blair Ward seems to be, based on the planning commission minutes, the most active and highly placed representative of the GHCDC. Special interest all the way, voice of the community not served.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

Sorry--allegations need to be supported, and it is not incumbent on me to disprove them. Either he/you can, or cannot.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

Jim Jones--please support your allegation by listing all the members of, for example, the Golden Hill or Uptown Planners groups, along with their affiliations to entities such as those you alleged in your comment.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Which is why a small special interest group formed of professional planners trying to get paid by the process, unions trying to get PLA's, developers trying to cut red tape, quasi religious environmentalists worshiping at the altar of weeds and dirt and politicians trying to pander to get a vote misses the "community" mark so badly that using the term community is a joke, an oxymoron, even if they manage to get a couple NIMBY's who actually live in the community involved it isn't the community voice being spoken there.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Politicians love them too, because even if their pet project (which really is motivated by developer or union or both funds coming their way) is stonewalled, a good politician can spin it and say "I did a 180 on behalf of the community. I listened."