07/10/2012: "County Criticized For Holding Dueling Hearings On CAO Regulations"
(SJC Council & citizens on site trip to review proposed new setback regs -IG photo)
The County Council (Council) returned from their 4th of July break, and got hit by some fireworks of their own making Monday morning when they began their “First Touch” review of a Planning Commission (Commission) report on regulations for the fish and wildlife habitat conservation portion of the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO).
When the Council opened the meeting, County Planning Commissioner Mike Carlson stood and asked to be recognized on a point of order, and objected to the Council holding a public hearing and discussion on a Planning Commission document that was still in the process of being reviewed and approved.
Worse he said, the Council would be also holding a public hearing on the following Tuesday on the same document as the very same time the Commission was holding a meeting on the very same subject.
Carlson said it was inappropriate for the Council to discuss the Commission work until the Commission had completed, and approved, the Commissions’ recommendations to the Council; which he added, has always been, and was, the normal procedure.
Council Chair Patty Miller is responsible for setting the agenda for the Council, and explained the agenda had been set weeks prior to the hearing date, on the assumption the Planning Commission would have completed their work by the time the Council held their “first touch” review of the document; and added that all of the Council members had reviewed the agenda item, and none had objected or questioned it.
After a short discussion it was decided the Council would continue the hearing, but take no action, and only review those portions of the draft they believed the Planning Commission had informally adopted, but if changes were made in the draft by the Commission before their final approved draft was forwarded to the Council, the would go back and review those changes as well.
This satisfied the rest of the Council, but in response to a question from Chair Miller to Deputy County Prosecutor Jon Cain, Cain said if the Council was to go forward on the continued public hearing Tuesday, it would be difficult for the public to attend the Council and Commission meetings on Tuesday, since both of the groups were holding public hearings on the same subject, at the same time, at two different locations, unless the public could be in two places at the same time, which, he said, was “difficult to do.”
The Council then spent the rest of the day reviewing and discussing the document, then went on a field trip (photo above) to see how the proposed changes would affect setbacks from the shoreline.