The Emeryville Planning Commission recently approved the Panera Bakery building on the corner of 40th and Horton streets. The City Council reviewed their decision and followed suit with an approval after checking the proposed building against Emeryville's new General Plan. Below are the findings of fact determined by the Planning Commission and the City Council (please suspend your natural sense of propriety as you read).
The new Panera Bakery building is required to and will:
- Be a compliment to the area
- Be a vibrant and walkable destination for Emeryville residents
- Be developed with due regard for aesthetic quality
- Provide a service or amenity necessary to support a vibrant community
- Contribute to the well-being of the surrounding neighborhood and community
- Employ and serve Emeryville residents
- Add to the local retail opportunities for the community
- Create a sense of place, a memorable place
Readers of the Tattler will likely consider the findings made by the Planning Commission and City Council in this case to be without merit and bizarre. Any reasonable person would agree the Panera Bakery building and it's tenant, a fast food purveyor, does not do the things required of it in the eight points above.
Public policy is not supposed to work that way however. Policy is supposed to be based on measurability insofar as it's possible and that's what the General Plan is for.
So what has happened in the case of the Parera Bakery building approval? One of the following two points (or a combination of both) must have gone awry:
- The General Plan is not up to the task of properly informing the decision makers
- The Planning Commission lied about their findings of fact
If the problem is more one with the elected officials, then the voters will have to make sure we only elect those who will support our General Plan.
We Call On Mayor West
The most prudent path is to do both fixes, starting with the General Plan. After spending $2 million and countless tens of thousands of hours of City Hall staff time and Emeryville resident volunteer labor on the Plan, it is too valuable to simply let it die like this. We say it's time to turn our attention back to our General Plan and make sure it is crafted in such a way that pro-developer ideologues on the Planning Commission and the City Council are not able to so easily subvert it. We do not intend to sit back idly and permit the Plan to be ignored like this. Our General Plan represents the will of the people and is not there simply for show.
We call on Mayor West: you have properly noted that the General Plan and the process has been found to be lacking in the case of the Panera Bakery building...will you now help us fix it?