“Process” won out at Monday’s meeting of the Sonoma City Council.
That’s when Councilmember Amy Harrington recused herself Dec. 3 from a final vote on the so-called Gateway Project, a proposal for 33 housing units and 3,100 feet of commercial space at 899 Broadway, and the council voted 3-1 to approve the long-vetted development. But it almost didn’t happen that way.
The final approval of the project was delayed from its initial Nov. 5 vote after Harrington, an attorney, questioned her standing to vote on the matter after moving her law office the prior month to the space directly adjacent to the project. She sought a delay in the final vote, to allow her time to seek direction on a possible recusal from the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
Harrington was in the minority of the council’s prior 3-2 approval of the project. So recusal or not, the final vote presumably would have been for approval.
That is, unless the delay stretched to the Dec. 10 meeting when councilmember-elect Logan Harvey took over the seat of outgoing Councilmember Gary Edwards, a supporter of the project. Such a delay would have opened up the possibility of Harvey swinging the vote the other way, and possibly closing the door on the Gateway.
In considering the initial delay of the vote last month, members of the council and some project-opponents from the public, cited the need to get the “process” right before taking a vote. And, thus, the council – with only Edwards against – voted to delay the decision to Dec. 3, Edwards’ final full meeting on the council.
Respect for “process” should be commended. But the process surely would not have been served if a surprise and unnecessary delay resulted in a project being decided partly by a new council member who hadn’t properly vetted the project as a member of the council. It would have been a disservice to project supporters, those weary of the derelict Truck & Auto project site, and certainly the developers themselves. And it would be a disservice to anyone expecting a sense of fair play in Sonoma city government.
Whether one supports the Gateway Project or not, it’s been hashed over by the city Planning Commission, the City Council and members of the public for more than a year. And it’s received its required approval to move forward by the city officials it has been working with in that time.
And so move forward it should. That’s the process.
With everyone sharing stories this week of how the late George H.W. Bush’s outward decency overshadowed his prosaic single-term at 1600 Pennsylvania, here’s one more story about why POTUS 41 is being remembered as the last president who wasn’t completely despised by 40 percent of the country.
I was at my first-ever newspaper job – calendar editor at the Marin Independent Journal. The year was 2002. In some ways, it was a more innocent time – back when newspapers still had full-time calendar editors and readers still used actual calendars. In other ways, not so innocent: it was a post-9/11 world of forever war, black ops and “Temptation Island 2.”
It was also when local Fairfax boy made not-so-good John Walker Lindh had just been captured as an “enemy combatant” fighting with the Taliban during the invasion of Afghanistan. The story made national headlines and H.W., in his outrage, made some sort of public comment about the “American Taliban” being just “some misguided Marin hot-tubber.”