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November 26, 2014

DHS Planning Commission - 11/26/2014 - a quick report

6:18 PM the meeting began late because Commissioner Parker was late.

Less than 2 minutes later Commissioner Gray proposed an urgency item for the agenda. It would be to select a new Chair. One of the requirements for an urgency item is that the matter came to the attention of the Commission some time after the agenda was published. Former Chair Gerardi announced his resignation from the Commission well before November 20, so this could not possibly be an urgency item. But that determination is to be determined by the Commission. Attorney Quintanilla was present, but he wasn't going to stop them. It was hardly necessary to appoint a new Chair. Vice Chair Sobotta, who has had plenty of practice chairing the meeting, was present. Any new Chair would have served only at this meeting and the beginning of the December meeting. New Chairs are chosen in December. A unanimous vote of all four sitting Commissioners. Commissioner Romero said that she thought it would be more appropriate to wait for the City Council to appoint a new Commissioner (which could happen as early as next week) and then let that new Commissioner participate in electing the new Chair. Seeing that he couldn't get a 4-0 vote, Commissioner Gray withdrew his motion.

At about 7½ minutes into the meeting they were to consider approving the agenda. Commissioner Parker had a technical problem with his display and couldn't read the agenda. He said he couldn't vote to approve it if he couldn't read it. This seems a sure indication to me that he didn't bother to read it before he came to the meeting.

At 9½ minutes the Commission moved on to approving minutes from past meetings. There was quite a backlog, so they had minutes from eight meetings going back as far as the April 2013 meeting. Commissioner Gray moved to table that so that each Commissioner could submit their own minute corrections to staff outside of this meeting. But before his own motion could be voted on Mr. Gray proceeded to discuss them. Specifically, he objected to the fact that each of his public comments are summarized in one sentence, for example: "Dean Gray, resident, spoke of the lack of code enforcement." He wanted his full 3-minute comment to be summarized. Public comments are reduced to one or two sentences in the minutes for the City Council as determined by a resolution of the City Council. It saves staff time and reduces the possibility of an error in the written minutes. The audio recording is available for anyone who needs a fuller report. Everybody's comments, not just Mr. Gray's, are condensed like that.

Then the discussion moved on to seeking an explanation as to why there was such a backlog of unapproved minutes. There was also the question of how many meetings remain for which minutes have not been approved.

Finally, after discussing the minutes for 16 minutes, the vote to table them so they could skip discussing them in order to save time at this meeting was approved 4-0.

Next on the agenda (26 minutes into the meeting) was a discussion of upcoming capital projects by the Mission Springs Water District. Danny Friend and John Soulliere were there to discuss the next steps in the sewer project, the upcoming expansion of the Horton Waste Water Treatment Plant and the attempt to organize a financing mechanism to allow the property owners around the I-10/Indian interchange to pay for construction of the sewer system that they need in order to fully develop that area.

43 minutes into that presentation Commissioner Parker asked a question about odor and got an answer. First, Mr. Friend tried to answer him followed by another answer from Mr. Soulliere. Mr. Parker then asked if the sewer project around Indian and I-10 would be paid for by raising the water bills for the rest of us, thereby indicating that he had somehow totally missed the rather big and obvious point that Mr. Soulliere had been making about the challenges of putting together a financing structure that would allow the property owners of that area to pay for their own sewer system. I'm not going to transcribe it, but here's the recording of that part of the meeting.

Commissioner Parker took deep offense at these words. About an hour and a half later during Commissioner reports (the staff from MSWD had left long before this point) Mr. Parker had this to say:

At an hour and seventeen minutes into the meeting the Commission moved on to the next agenda item: a discussion about banner regulations with Heather Coladonato from the Chamber of Commerce. A business can display a temporary banner for a maximum of four 30-day periods in a calendar year. The periods may be consecutive. A business pays a fee for approval of each banner, so using one sign for consecutive periods saves the business some fees.

Finally at an hour and twenty-eight minutes the Commission got to the one item on the agenda that I think would be of wide interest to the residents and voters of the city: a discussion of possible revisions concerning parking on streets and on private property, on driveways and off, with an eye given to RV parking; and possible revisions in driveway regulations; and possible revisions in the code regarding fences. While I know the public loves to hear urgency ordinances, discussions of minutes, and how to put together a financing district for sewer construction it's things like parking, RVs, driveways and fences that really bring out crowds of pitchfork-carrying citizens.

Five minutes into this discussion Commissioner Gray expressed his concern that the subject could "take a while." Senior Planner Richard Malacoff acknowledged that it could. Mr. Gray said he had read it already and he proposed they just vote it up or down rather than going through each proposed change one by one. Otherwise "it could take all night." Nevertheless, the discussion continued. The greatest share of time was spent discussing how wide a side yard should be in order to legally park an RV on it.

About an hour later after discussing mostly RV parking, but also a little bit of driveways, the decision was made to table the RV elements indefinitely while Mr. Malacoff sought input from code enforcement. Fencing will be brought back at the next Planning Commission meeting which is currently expected to be December 9.

They decided to continue the next item on the agenda, "Rules and Responsibilities of the Planning Commission," to the next meeting.

From there they moved into Commissioner and staff reports, which consumed another 42 minutes. Mr. Gray encouraged staff to stay up to date on the minutes. He also pressed to have the results of the applications for marijuana dispensaries and cultivation sites brought to the Planning Commission meeting in two weeks even after Alex Meyerhoff explained that they had only today done the first scoring of the applications (some were grossly incomplete, he said) and that they needed to check their scoring and they needed to verify everything on all the applications and when that is all brought to the Planning Commission it will be a public hearing and in order to have a public hearing on December 9 they would have to send out the notices tomorrow and staff was not prepared to do that. Mr. Meyerhoff did not mention one of my big concerns, and that's that some of the applicants can afford very good attorneys and if city staff makes an error while rushing this process, the city can be sure to hear about it from some of those attorneys. I think doing it right will make everyone happier, even if it delays things a month or two (or three).

Commissioner Parker said he didn't see the email notifying him of this meeting so he didn't pick up his agenda packet last Thursday. Then he whined about wanting Mr. Malacoff to hold his hand more or to wait on him more or to generally coddle his unwillingness to make an effort. IOW, there was no indication that Mr. Parker would take any responsibility to occasionally check the city calendar to find out about city meetings the way all the rest of us do. Being a Commissioner I suppose he's above all that.

Three hours and 14 minutes, all told, and the one item that people are genuinely concerned about was left incomplete.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | permalink | November 26, 2014 at 01:03 AM


A commissioner certainly must watch to see when meetings are posted but the Planning Commission meetings have missed too many of its normally scheduled meeting days for one reason or another. Commissioner Parker can lay at least some measure of legitimate claim to not knowing when the meetings are held with what has been less than regular scheduling of meetings.

Out of concern for the public, meetings should take place at the regularly scheduled date and time and only be missed for very good reason.

Posted by: Russell Betts at Nov 30, 2014 4:39:49 PM

I meant the SECOND Tuesday..but I under stand there have been extra meetings called, so he can be as confused as the rest of us.

Posted by: Mike Picardi at Nov 28, 2014 8:03:55 PM

here's a clue for Mr. Parker; The Planning Commission (of which you are a member) meets the LAST Tuesday of every month..figure it out.

Posted by: Mike Picardi at Nov 28, 2014 8:02:04 PM

Is parker real?? WTF?? What is his background and what credentials does he bring with him.

Posted by: Mike Picardi at Nov 28, 2014 7:20:04 PM

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