Lemon Grove City Council scraps Planning Commission … Uhhh, never mind.

Steve Gramm Steve Gramm 2 Comments

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Well, actually, the Lemon Grove Planning Commission was scrapped in 2015.

But…now, it’s back!


Photo graphic from The East County Enquirer

On a new Facebook site, The East County Enquirer, the three Democrats on the City Council are being excoriated for resurrecting the planning body, just a couple of years after the prior council majority axed the commission to reduce bureaucracy in the city. The posts at The Enquirer are generating a lot of interest.

On Tuesday, a post challenged readers to take note of the City Council agenda item for the next day…

“In 2015 the Lemon Grove City Council voted 3-2 to eliminate the Planning Commission. The Commission was only meeting, on average, 5 times a year. The thought was to eliminate the Planning Commission in order to save staff time and shorten up the entitlement process by at least the 30 to 60 days it takes to get though the Planning Commission process. That time can be longer depending on what conditions may be imposed by a Planning Commission and how many times they send staff and applicant back to the drawing board. In addition, hoops in the form of professional services and time to meet the conditions of a Planning Commission can drive up costs that, in the end, may be overturned by a Council anyway. In a small city like Lemon Grove where the council does have the time to do the work of a Planning Commission there is value to businesses and developers in having direct access to the Council and shortened entitlement times.”

The Enquirer goes on to say that the 2016 election brought a new Mayor and Council majority, now moving to reinstate the Planning Commission. “It is important for those Council members to understand the value that this direct access and time savings have for businesses, the building industry and affordable housing,” the post reads, while encouraging attendance at the City Council meeting.

Following the meeting, The Enquirer railed on the Council decision…

“Well, they did it…the Lemon Grove City Council opted for more bureaucracy! So the three bureaucrats of the bunch decided to bring back the Lemon Grove Planning Commission after the City got rid of it two years ago.

“Never mind they don’t need it and just make things more bureaucratic. And look at Santee, they haven’t had a planning commission for years and look what they have done!

“So while it’s good to have citizen input, they always could do that directly through the City Council. And what do they say, ‘sometimes less is more.’ In this case less was more!”

Any of the Council Members are invited to weigh in with their thoughts here, as always.

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Comments 2

  1. As we all know, “Community Organizers”, are great at organizing new jobs, for those in the community. Here are some new jobs, for the community. And as a famous past “Community Organizer” was famous for, creating layers of new bureaucracy, where none is needed.

  2. Mayor Vasquez and the Council majority can put whatever spin on their action to reinstate the Planning Commission they want. The undeniable reality is that they re-created a redundant layer of government. A layer that has proven in this last year to be unnecessary for Lemon Grove as the council has acted as the Planning Commission with no ill effects or complaints.

    Housing, especially affordable housing, is becoming a crisis issue in San Diego County. Regulation, fees and entitlement time are major contributors to that and Lemon Grove just voted to increase all of these for developers, businesses and homeowners looking to improve their properties. With the dissolution of Redevelopment in California, cities are left with few tools to promote economic development and attract developers to their jurisdictions. Lemon Grove’s Council has the time to act as their Planning Commission and could offer valuable incentives in the form of reduced entitlement costs and timelines. The Council majority, on a 3-2 vote, just gave away that tool and sent a bad message to the building and business community.

    The City Council heard from citizens that argued for more oversight, input and a second set of eyes. They also heard from representatives of the building community including the Building Industry Association, Habitat for Humanity and Architect Humbert Cabrera. All three spoke to the high cost of housing, the lack of adequate new housing and the value of one entitlement process and time saved when a Council acts as their planning commission. All of this fell on deaf ears as three members voted to reinstate the Planning Commission in favor of creating positions and titles for their supporters. They also brushed aside warnings of added impacts on Lemon Grove’s lean budget and staff time.

    I voted no, the only way I could. Elected officials cannot say they want economic development and then place obstacles in the way of developers and businesses when they have options and the time to do the work. I’ve been an affordable housing advocate for many years and there was no way I could contribute to the problems there and vote to increase red tape and costs.

    Jerry Jones, Council Member – Lemon Grove

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