Thursday, July 1, 2010

Might The Oro Valley Council "Deep Six" The Development Review Board?

For those that may not know it, the DRB is a group of seven volunteers that review & assess whether a developer is in compliance with the town codes as it concerns zoning, architectural standards and other rules.

As reported in The Az Star, after getting public input, the Town Council is expected to make a final determination on the status of the DRB sometime in Sept.

Keep in mind, regardless of any public input, the council will unilaterally determine what is best for the people of Oro Valley.

As for Mayor Hiremath, he has already made his determination, and although it may not serve the people of Oro Valley, the developers will love it.

Showing total disdain for the citizens, Hiremath had this to say to the Star reporter:

"The DRB decisions are sometimes subjective and anti-business, stifling new development that stands to benefit the town."

Hiremath states that "members are so persnickety about paint colors on building exteriors that they don't allow even tiny variations."

He hopes that the council "axes the review board."

From our standpoint, Hiremath would vote to allow Walmart, for example to paint their exterior a non-approved color palette. Hiremath would allow In 'n Out Burger to plant giant palm trees in violation of the town code.

Does anyone think that having staff do the work that a volunteer group now does is a cost saving to the town?

Keep in mind, the DRB works at the pleasure of the council, and it is the Mayor and six Council Members that make the final determination.

For whatever it's worth, I can tell you this for a fact: If Mike Zinkin, the ex-Chairman of DRB was mayor, there would be no way in the world he would vote to disband the DRB. Mike has more sense than to do that----and, additionally, he wouldn't have been beholden to any developers!


Oro Valley Mom said...

I think it's pretty obvious what's going on. The special interest groups have a majority on council who are beholden to them and will do their bidding. The puppet council will dismantle any semblance of citizen-centric government, including volunteer boards and commissions, ordinances that require citizen input, etc., etc.

The only good news is that all these actions will make it very easy to get signatures on recall petitions.

Astute Gal said...

It's a valuable exercise to revisit the role of the DRB. In many cities, the design boards create policies (through their decisions and recommendations) that go beyond their original charter.

If the DRB survives, it will emerge stronger having gone through a review itself. Let us remember, though, that any design board is only a recommending body, and that the ultimate authority resides with the elected officials.

If the elected officials find themselves at odds with the design boards on more occasions than not, then there is something fundamentally wrong. Therefore, an examination of the design board's role is completely appropriate.

Zev Cywan said...

Earlier I tried to post the following (twice); both times, when I tried to 'edit', my comments flew into outer space - I hope God got a hold of it:

This idea not only reflects the flawed indulgence that Council and Staff are better equipped to outbalance the Citizens within our Community, it is a slap in the face to those who have given their valuable guidance and expertise in the interest of keeping our Community within a semblance of the reasons most of us moved here. Assisting our Boards and Commissions hone their skills and their processes might be a reasonable order, but to discard them by thinking that Council and Staff have the 'righter' stuff to take their place is a sham.

In the following I am going to use myself as an example - not for self-glorification but simply for illustration purposes:

I am on two Town volunteer groups, one as the Vice-chair of the Art Review Commission the other as an appointed 'Citizen-at-Large' participant on the mandated 'sign code task force'. Now, my experience relative to the Art Review Commission appointment is that I have over 65 years of experience within the 'arts universe' including a degree in composition as well as further graduate studies in such field - who, on Council or Staff can match that experience? As to the Sign Code Task Force, I have over 45 years of experience in retail(as a manger, owner, advertiser, franchise consultant, designer, importer, etc.) and, too, experience in the real estate field as a salesperson and as a certified 'relocation graduate' as well; who on Council or Staff can claim that experience?

My point - Council is an elected body which doesn't account for expertise in anything and members of Staff are hired per their education and training. This is certainly no criteria for accountability and analysis in order to formulate how we should design our Community and live in it.

A town should be in a symbiotic relationship with all of it's elements. This can only be achieved by letting ALL of the elements have their say. We elected Council to be a representative body for the purpose of initiating, studying,
finessing, and carrying out those facets necessary for the Town to progress in an orderly, purposeful, and fiscally responsible manner; we did not elect them in order that they might savor themselves as self- anointed philosopher kings.

Tighten the restrictions that govern the 'hiring' and the processes for our Boards and Commissions, yes; do not, however, allow them to be thrown away in a reckless quest for position, control, and power!

Zev Cywan said...

I do not have experience as a "manger", I do have experience as a manager - sorry for the typo.

Jay D said...

I have done a little research regarding the council's actions related to the DRB. Contrary to what appears to be popular opinion on this blog, the current council and mayor did not initiate the DRB discussions. It's easy enough to read the Town Council minutes online to discover the facts. The following (Item 5) is on the April 7 Town Council Meeting Minutes:

MOTION: A motion was made by Councilmember Gillaspie and seconded by Vice Mayor Garner to direct staff to move forward using Options A, B, C and D as proposed and that staff conduct public meetings with Option C offered as the preferred solution and develop an action and implementation plan with the consolidated findings and return to Council by the first meeting in September (not precluding any study sessions).

Option A
This option retains all current processes with no changes.

Option B
The powers and duties of the DRB would be amended to focus solely on the review of architecture submittals. The Development Review Board would be renamed to Design Review Board. Staff would assume all other recommendation & approval responsibilities formerly reviewed by DRB. Final approvals for these submittals remain with Town Council.

Option C
Staff would assume all recommendation & approval responsibilities, including architecture, that were formerly reviewed by DRB. The Town Council would disband the Development Review Board. Final approvals for these submittals remain with Town Council.

This option may reduce overall review and approval process time by 4-6 weeks for particular types of submittals.

Option D
Staff would assume all development recommendations & approval responsibilities allowed by State statute, including development plans, preliminary plats, landscape plans, parking analysis, architecture, signage, grading exceptions, communications facilities, and time extensions. The Town Council would disband the Development Review Board.

This option may reduce overall review and approval process time by 4-11 weeks for particular types of submittals.

MOTION carried, 6-0.

The above describes Gillaspie and Garner's motion and the 6-0 vote to approve Option C and disband the DRB!!!

Public comments regarding the DRB discussion were made by several people including: Bill Adler, an Oro Valley resident, commented that most of the decisions made by DRB members were being made intuitively based upon feelings and not facts. He stated that determinations should be made based on adopted regulations and policies and until that is done, all Boards should be suspended with decisions made by staff rather than by citizens.

Zev Cywan said...

Jay D, yes I was aware of this before THIS Council was elected and took office. IN fact, I mentioned that there was a movement in this Town for such in an Explorer 'Letter to the Editor' prior to the election and WITHOUT having heard any of it by any of the new Council members. I stand by my post here; I don't care who or what body is advocating this; too much power in the hands of an unqualified Council or Staff is a BAD way to go. There is too much of a chance for rubber-stamping bad ideas!

Zev Cywan said...

Our Country is supposed to be one of 'checks and balances'; isn't that the ideal for a town striving to be 'in harmony with itself'? You won't get that by delegating all of the 'authorities' to a council and staff; not all are competent to make certain decisions even though they might think they are.

Zev Cywan said...

Another point: when has it been shown that that governments run things in a more efficient manner than the 'private sector'? When governments and their staffs run into a 'squeeze' they just add more PAID employees and we, the Citizens, end up coughing up the money for the results of their ineptitude.

If our Council and Staff,in concert with experienced commissions members, can instill some kind of sensible reforms that's one thing, if they 'take things over' for themselves, that's another. Special interests can gain control of an agenda if their target group is a single consolidated entity; it is much more difficult, if not impossible, for them to be able to do that if they have to account to a body comprised of an interested and diverse collection of a community.

Jay D said...

Zev, I am not surprised that you were aware of the possible elimination of the DRB. Your comments are always appreciated. In my opinion, Art's original thread implied that the move to disband the DRB is a function of this current council/mayor. I realize this current council/mayor will determine the outcome of the DRB discussion, but I felt it was important to post accurate information, rather than watch blog readers make comments based on just Art's initial thread. I am sure it would surprise many of the blog readers to know that it was Gillaspie who suggested that the preferred move is to eliminate the DRB, with a second from Garner. Art wrote, "For whatever it's worth, I can tell you this for a fact: If Mike Zinkin, the ex-Chairman of DRB was mayor, there would be no way in the world he would vote to disband the DRB. Mike has more sense than to do that----and, additionally, he wouldn't have been beholden to any developers! Maybe Zinkin would have voted against disbanding the DRB, but it sounds like his friends, Garner and Gillaspie, would have voted differently. If we take Art's words to heart, this means that both Gillaspie and Garner don't have "sense."