On Tuesday, the Oakley City Council agreed in a 5-0 vote to re-establish the Planning Commission which could hold its first meeting as early as this fall.
The city first had its planning commission back in 1999, however, by 2009, due to lack of development, the council took over the duties and did away with the commission. However, over the years, the idea of bringing it back has been brought up several times but its not gone anywhere until Tuesday.
This approval comes after the city surveyed residents earlier this year as well as had two other meetings to discuss the idea.
According to Survey Results, 88.8% surveyed want the city to re-establish the planning commission as a separate body from the city council. Meanwhile, just 12.7% are in support of the City Council continuing to act as the Planning Commission. Oakley currently has Citizen Planning Advisors, just 24.6% are in support of continuing that model versus establishing a separate Planning Commission.
According to Interim City Manager, Josh McMurray the ordinance included the method of selection of the planning commission who will be an at-large appointment by the city council, it requires the person to be a resident of the City of Oakley and makes it clear that no person serving as an appointed or elected member of any local or regional agency (including Oakley or jurisdiction) shall serve as a member of the Planning Commission.
The following list summarizes those changes made over the three meetings this year which include:
- Method of selection of the Planning Commissions will be by an at-large appointment by the City Council.
- Requires the person appointed to be a resident of the City of Oakley.
- Makes it clear that no person serving as an appointed or elected member of any local or regional agency that includes any portion of Oakley City limits within its jurisdictional territory shall serve as a member of the Planning Commission.
- Make the meeting day the first and third Tuesday of each month. The second meeting of each month would be on an as-needed basis.
- Meeting time shall be 6:30 PM, to be consistent with the start of City Council meeting.
- Decision making ability for all matters referred to by the Zoning Administrator, Parcel Maps (fewer than 5 parcels), Conditional Use Permits and Design Review (when not a Staff level approval).
- The Planning Commission would make recommendations to the City Council on all proposed development agreements, zone changes, zoning text amendments, adoption or amendments to specific plans or the General Plan, and other legislative land-use matters.
- The Planning Commission would periodically review the Capital Improvement Program.
- The Planning Commission would approve, adopt, or certify the environmental document, to the extent required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), for any matters for which the commission is the deciding body.
- For matters in which the Planning Commission acts as a recommending body, it shall make recommendations concerning any CEQA documents in conjunction with its recommendations concerning the merits of the proposed
- Requires that at least two City Council members shall approve, at a regular City Council meeting, any request by the City Council to exclusively hear an item that would have normally be heard and approved by the Planning Commission
Councilmember George Fuller asked about qualifications they could consider and if that would come later.
McMurray stated the application would occur administratively. They would be out for a period of time and then present them to the city council for an at-large approval.
Fuller argued for qualifications and what it would require someone to be.
McMurray said the applications would give you enough feedback in the question and answers to select qualified applicants. He said staff had no desire to put real detailed requirements such as being an “architect or engineer”.
“Planning Commissioners can come from all walks of life and all levels of experience,” stated McMurray. “It’s up to the city council of who they want to appoint to the planning commission. So its our goal to craft an application, we have several already that have been used across the state so I think we have a good idea of the questions we will ask. No we are not going to narrow it down to be so restrictive that only a small amount of people can apply.
Fuller then asked about approval or rejection of projects and if people could appeal decisions made by planning commissioners.
McMurray explained they took the recommendation from the council that a planning commission could have approval authority with design review approval, conditional use permit approval and tentative parcel map approval while everything else would be a recommendation to the city council while the city code already has an appeal code set up.
Vice Mayor Randy Pope asked if approved tonight, when could it be up and running.
City Attorney Derek Cole explained it would have to be approved at the next meeting (July 13) and then 30-day hold for waiting period on ordinance. The earliest timeline would be September for a first meeting.
Pope also argued that training should be included as part of the application process include Brown Act, Ethics Training, how to be a planning commissioner and other trainings—both McMurray and Cole agreed and would be included.
During public comments, both callers requested the council be given full scope, not the “striked out” version of the ordinance.
McMurray stated the updated ordinance with the strike outs is a cleaned up version and gives the planning commission the same duties they already had in the past—this is basically an amendment and updating now that they already have all the documents in place, not creating them.
The council unanimously approved bringing back the planning commission in 5-0 vote.