By Mitch Lehman
EDITOR OF THE TRIBUNE
With more than one hundred residents packed into City Hall and chomping at the bit to fire away at a proposed nine-unit condominium project on Huntington Drive, a tall, tan man in an off-white suit silenced the throng with a most unexpected statement.
“We are withdrawing the application,” said Vance Pomeroy, a representative for the group who had applied for a zoning change in order to build more units on less space than San Marino’s building codes currently allow.
Stunned residents at first didn’t seem to know quite how to react – so they didn’t – but the stunned silence was soon followed by polite applause.
The three-person Planning Commission was also puzzled and entered into a debate as to the merits of continuing with public comment on the controversial matter – which really wasn’t a matter after Pomeroy pulled it from the top of Wednesday’s agenda.
“There’s nothing left to talk about, technically, said Planning Commission member Ben Lundgren. But the panel decided to take advantage of the overflow crowd and elicited opinions on the matter.
Which was pretty much unanimous.
More than a dozen residents approached the podium and assailed the Planning Commission, city staff and the (former) applicant for even daring to propose a multi-family housing complex in San Marino, including former Mayor Rary Simmons, who batted first.
“Do not give San Marino away,” Mrs. Simmons said. “Since I left the council in 1992, the encroachment zone has changed. The side yard setback has changed and soon there will be no front yards left.”
“It is my understanding that the request for the zoning change came from the city staff,” said Stephanie Johnson. “For the city council, the Planning Commission, to say‘because we made a clerical error we want to change it,’ that is ridiculous,” said Johnson, her words met with thunderous applause.
Michele Lumley, Lee Benuska, Phillip Lao, Michele May, Scott Brown, Kim Campbell, Bill Payne, Gene Ruckh,Doris Christensen and Bob Flaherty also assailed the panel for even discussing the matter.
“I felt you were the gatekeepers of our city,” said Christensen. “I don’t even know why we are having this conversation. I figured this would be taken care of by you and the city council. What have I missed? I am amazed that we are here.”
The site under consideration – the former headquarters of Avery Labels and East West Bank – has been vacant since 2003.
(3 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5)