At the last Planning Board meeting, in addition to the awesome preview of the container project, there was an agenda item that sounded like it was going to be relatively boring, but turned out to be fairly importantly. There was a proposal to eliminate the City required design review for the community of Harbor Bay because there have been complaints by homeowners on Harbor Bay. Harbor Bay has its own internal architectural committee process that — from all reports — is extremely onerous and, at times, even more difficult than the City’s process. Oftentimes the two processes, the Harbor Bay one and the City one, would overlap each other making the applicant — rightfully– feel as though they were doing double work.
Naturally Harbor Bay was all excited that they could eliminate one layer of bureaucracy for their community members but, in the end, the Planning Board went the right direction of this and voted that proposal down.
While it may seem logical to allow Harbor Bay to take the project on itself and help relieve the burdens of an already slammed Planning and Building Department the problem is that removing the City from this process is not the way to go about lessening the burden of Harbor Bay homeowners.
As one Planning Board member opined, what to stop a sub-neighborhood in Harbor Bay to remove itself from the Harbor Bay process because they produce their own architectural standards and processes. Or what is to stop other Alameda neighborhoods from deciding that they want to start their own process in order to get the treatment that was being proposed for Harbor Bay. Essentially it would have been a cluster.
So for now, the Planning Board has said to Harbor Bay, look if you want to make things less of a big deal for your homeowners, you could always loosen your architectural standards. That’s totally within your control, otherwise, you’re still a part of the City of Alameda, so you’ll have to abide by the same rules as everyone else does.