(July 19, 2002) -- In a significant action by a City Hall-appointed body and a victory for grassroots activists, LB's Planning Commission -- whose members are Mayor nominated and Council approved -- voted at its July 18 meeting to recommend to the City Council that taking park land for non park purposes should require replacing the park land taken with twice the amount of new parkland, replaced in specified nearby areas...and approved by a vote of the public, not the City Council.
As LBReport.com reported prior to the meeting, city staff had proposed letting park land be taken for non park uses if it was replaced by an equal amount of "replacement" park land (with amenities) where City Hall considered it "needed"...and left that decision to the City Council.
Following a hearing that included testimony from a number veteran LB activists [transcript pending as we post], Planning Commissioners recommended two-for-one replacement of parkland taken within an impacted service area (1/4 mile for neighborhood-serving parks and 1/2 mile for community or regional parks) with an equal amount of parkland going to underserved neighborhoods. Commissioners also recommended an annual report on park acquisition progress.
And in an important endorsement of a policy long sought by grassroots park protection advocates, Planning Commissioners recommended that the Council put a Charter Amendment on the ballot giving the public (instead of the Council) the power to approve any attempt by City Hall to take park land for non park purposes.
The Planning Commission's vote on these items was unanimous. Commissioners Sramek, Fields, Moyer, Winn and Hernandez were present; Commissioners Greenberg and Whelan were absent.
Newly named Commissioner Randall Hernandez voted for the changes, then sought reconsideration. His motion died for lack of a second.
The Planning Commission's recommendations will be sent to the City Council within the coming weeks at which time another public hearing will be held.