LFP City Council Still Struggling With DADU Concepts
By Jack Tonkin, former LFP City Council member
Last Thursday’s evening ZOOM meeting was very disappointing to say the least.
The ADU program is arguably the most important issue facing the future of Lake Forest Park. A wrong decision now could have serious consequences and the whole neighborhood character of LFP could be lost forever.
Your Council has been made aware of this many times in the past two years. Then why would they ignore the wealth of data presented by citizens and their Planning Commission and waste time last evening making up their own opinion based questions and assumptions? It’s as if the never heard about ADU’s before and had never studied all the data they requested the Planning Commission to provide(that took seven months of serious deliberation to finish).
Now they have a new problem with our State legislators trying to pass bills that would take over control of how ADU Zoning must be followed. Our council does not feel any sense of urgency to get our own ADU program out to our homeowners and continues to postpone making decisions until they can find the time to discuss it again and then hold a public meeting before approving a final ordinance. They did not even discuss the five most important findings of the Planning Commission that was submitted on 10/12/21. Why have a Planning Commission if you are going to ignore their findings?
Instead of treating the ADU issue with critical importance, the council took up hours to discuss other “important matters” and left the ADU discussion for last on the agenda. When they finally turned their attention to the ADU topic, it was embarrassing to witness how the coddled each others opinions, procrastinations and how misinformed they were. I doubt the three new Council Members were given all the ADU reports submitted in order to educate themselves, as they had only minimal information to effectively engage in council discussions.
The Planning Commission is owed an apology for council to ignore their findings to instead waste time creating their own ill gotten opinions; all while knowing the State is on a fast track to change every city in the state by doubling their populations thus creating all sorts of havoc in the pursuit of creating more housing.
Last evening was clearly not our Council’s finest hour…
What you can do:
1) Get informed. This is easier than one thinks as the Planning Commission issued a very definitive proposal to council after studying the issue 7 months. The proposal can be obtained as a public document, very likely online. The proposal has wonderful graphs that quickly tell the whole story.
2) Get involved. For those citizens who sincerely wish to contribute to community well being, start attending all Council meetings, including their informal COW meetings and use the speak opportunity granted citizens in every meeting to voice their concerns. If you can’t attend, each ZOOM meeting can be retrieved from the city website to view and listen.
3) Communicate your response to actions the Council takes on issues that matter to you. For example, the Council and Mayor aggressively promoted a Yes vote for PROP 1, the vast program to spend millions of dollars forever on a Park and Street Safety plan, only to learn the citizens did not agree with the huge increase to property tax and the permanent pledge to pay forever. The actions of many citizens to demonstrate their opposition to PROP 1 were overwhelming and caught the city completely off-guard. The citizens voted a resounding NO on PROP 1 and asked the Council to repackage a more reasonable schedule and costs for fixing the essential needs of parks and streets. (The Council has not made a public announcement since about that issue nor shown any evidence of developing a new alternate plan.)
Thus the need for public engagement with their government is essential otherwise they find themselves paying for poor management and unfair actions. Those sitting on Council are not malicious people looking for ways to place burdens on citizens but once in a position of power to create changes, then tend to do so because they can and no degree of public seems to matter until it all goes off the rail. This cycle will continue until citizens demand transparency and officials welcome engaging the public in all matters and discussions.
One of these actions has to proceed the other and currently there is little evidence the city is interested in the pubic meddling into their affairs so the burden is on the public to get in their face and demand a dialog. Or vote them out at election time and replace them with honest candidates that will walk the talk once elected.