Longmont Planning and Zoning - Regular Meeting - January 20, 2021
6:03PM Jan 26, 2021
open meetings law
ex parte communications
open records act
Okay, good evening, everybody. Happy New Year. Welcome to the January 20 2021. planning and zoning commission meeting. First item on our agenda is roll call. But we're going to do this differently tonight because we have all of our commissioners and all of our alternates here. We're going to do our first roll call for those who are going to be seated with as voting commissioners, for the first items on our agenda. And then we'll do a second roll call to identify that the alternatives are here. So Jane, could you do our first roll call please. Secondly,
Chairman chernykh. Here, Commissioner flag here. Commissioner Goldberg. Your Commissioner heights commission Commissioner honor on here, Commissioner Polin, here. Commissioner teta. Here, Councilmember Rodriguez
Okay, I mean, you have a quorum on that piece.
Okay. Thank you, Jane. second item would be to do a roll call for ultimate please.
Commissioner been here. Commissioner Koehler. Yeah. Commissioner to catch
Great. Thank you. I'm also want to welcome our newest member to the commission. Miss Jerry boom. So welcome. I need to read our little notice as to how people who are viewing from home can call in. Anyone wishing to speak during public invited to be heard items at your number four and 11 on tonight's agenda will need to watch the live stream of the meeting for instructions about how to call in to provide public comment at the appropriate times. instructions will be given during the meeting and displayed on the screen when it is time to call in and provide comments. Comments are limited to five minutes per person. And each speaker will be asked to state their name and address for the record prior to proceeding with their comments. Please remember to mute the live stream when you're called upon to speak. And I'll just make an extra note here that public invited to be heard comments should be about things that are not on the agenda. So anything outside of our agenda item. Okay, number three on our agenda communications from our planning director Glenn van inwagen. Thank you, Mr.
Chair. Can everybody see me? The only thing I wanted to add is one of our commissioners, Joshua Goldberg asked about some demographic information, specifically, vacancy rates and multifamily. that's a that's a great question. And it came at a great time. Aaron always does our basically estimates what it is for each year. But we're also anxiously awaiting the census data, which is I believe, going to be somewhat delayed this year. So we sent you out an email, you probably haven't had a chance to look at it. That lists out the various things that we look at for the vacancy rate, and it ranges anywhere from we estimated at in 2020 at 4.1%. The American Community Survey, which is an estimate, utilizing past census data, has estimated an average over the last five years 4.7% with the last year being 4.1%. So it in this case, it actually showed a little bit of a decrease in the vacancy rate. And then our state demographer estimates are rather high at 5.8%. But I think there's some great data and when we get the census data, I think we'll just schedule kind of a work session or hopefully on a regular agenda just to talk about kind of the data and how long mine is changing. So it was a great question. And yeah, if anybody has any questions, shoot them to me or Aaron, but that's about it.
Great, thank you, Glenn. Appreciate that. Um, okay, so item four on our agenda is public invited to be heard. The information will be displayed on the screen here shortly for those viewing from home if you want to call in and give us your comments. Here we go. There it is, please dial 188878800 Nine Nine. And when prompted, enter the meeting id 84566084140. When we're ready to hear public comment, we'll call on you to speak based on the last three digits of your phone number. Each speaker must state their name and address for the record and will be allowed five minutes to speak. Please remember to mute the live stream when you're called upon to speak. This takes us about five minutes to bring in anybody who wishes to speak into our zoom session. So we will take a five minute break to what the technical process take place.
Okay stuff, just to confirm we have it appears we have nobody who called in to speak.
Yes, that is correct.
Okay. We will close the public invited to be heard. Move on to item five on our agenda, which is election of our chairperson and our VICE CHAIRPERSON. Let's start with the chairperson. Are there any nominations for anybody to serve as chair? Commissioner Goldberg? Yeah, Chairman,
I'd like to nominate yourself, Mr. Chairman. Sure. Not to be to remain our chairperson, if that's possible.
Well, thank you appreciate that. be honored to serve. I'm Commissioner height.
I'd like to second that motion. Okay,
second, because this is a vote. I don't think we need a second per se. But I'm just nominations. Do we have any other nominations? Okay, seeing none, let's go ahead and take a vote. Raise your hand and say Aye. If you wish. Me to be chair. Aye. Aye. Anybody opposed? Seeing none. Okay, Jane, that passes unanimously, seven to zero. Thank you very much. Again, I appreciate your confidence in my doing this. Um, okay. So let's elect our VICE CHAIRPERSON. Nominations for vice chair. Commissioner flake.
I'd like to nominate Michael Poland.
Okay. We have a nomination for Commissioner Poland for vice chair. Do I see any other nominations? Okay, Commissioner, how what is this? You're You're giving me right.
Now, it was a ridiculous Oh, wait a second.
Okay. All right. So it is seconded. All right. Okay. Great. Um, any other nominations? Seeing none, let's take a vote. Those in favor of Commissioner Poland being vice chair. Aye. Aye. Aye. Okay, Jane, that is unanimous. Again, seven to zero. So, Commissioner, pullin is vice chair. Next on our agenda is approval of our 2021 meeting schedule. Do we have any discussion about our meeting schedule? Or a motion to approve? Commissioner polam I believe it was first.
I move that we approved the 2021 meeting schedule. Okay.
Do we have a second on that? Commissioner Goldberg, you're going to second? I I saw the little yellow square come up around you. So I thought you were speaking.
I was thinking that no problem.
Okay. So we have a motion to approve our 2021 meeting schedule. It's been seconded. All those in favor say aye. Raise your hands. Any opposed? None. Jane that passes seven to zero approved. item seven on our agenda is approval of our 2021 bylaws. Any discussion or a motion to approve Commissioner I
have something to discuss here. Section three deal with regular meetings calls out that we are to meet at the Civic Center at seven o'clock on the third Wednesday of each month. As we have so adroitly been able to soldier on through this pandemic. We're not meeting at Civic Center, we're meeting remotely. And I think we need to address that in these bylaws at least I would suggest that we attempt to do so. I don't know if city attorney may has some language. I've been working on other bylaws that address this and have something to propose. Eugene, do you have some standard language to address this city wide?
Chairman and commission Eugene may city attorney for city council we did pass a remote meeting policy that would likely work similar in this situation. We could bring it back for the next agenda. We could either have the separate policy or looked incorporated into the bylaws. Hopefully I'm sure we all hope that we will be doing remote for less rather than more this year. But the remote meeting policy is pretty flexible.
Cool. So I would propose that we table this until we see that remote Meeting policy and adopted into the bylaws, if necessary, or as necessary, as appropriate.
attorney may would it be more appropriate to table this item until we get a new version? Or should we go ahead and approve this item and then amended at a later date?
chair, I think you could do it either way. It seems like approval now and amend next meeting and I'll work with deputy city attorney Tate to get the remote meeting policy on the agenda either as an amendment to the bylaw and standalone policy.
Because if if we don't approve them now, are we operating without bylaws?
Okay. Um, I guess I would I personally would opt to approve the bylaws as they stand knowing that that a request for changes will be coming in February. I'm Commissioner height is that okay by you that procedure?
Yes, yeah, though. I will point out technically we would be in violation of said bylaws because we're not meeting at the Civic Center. But I think past practice has been to violate that standard anyhow, so I'm fine with that. Okay.
Any other discussion about the bylaws? Okay, so um, so knowing knowing that city attorney on Tate will bring us a an amended version of the bylaws in February. I will move to approve our 2021 bylaws as they currently stand. Do we have a second on that motion? Commissioner Goldberg Second.
All those in favors? Raise your hand say aye. Aye. Aye. Any opposed? Seeing none, Jane, we approve our 2021 bylaws seven to zero. Next is item eight, approval of the 2021 posting locations. Any discussion on those? Okay, anybody want to make a motion? Commissioner Goldberg?
Yeah. Go ahead, Move to approve the 2021 posting locations. Okay.
I have a discussion. I just want to clarify something. The staff recommendation is that we use the website as the official posting. But as I understand it, we also will be continuing to post at the Civic Center and the public library. Does that correct? Jane?
Yes, Commissioner height. That is correct. So the official location and Council also adopted this all of our boards are adopting the web as the official location but the locations below that that I've listed is where we will have additional postings. One location did change last year. We are in the previous years. We posted it outside city council chambers on a bulletin board. That bulletin board was removed with the remodel of council chambers. So there's not a posting near council chambers. It's back at the West entrance now that the Civic centers reopened. All the entrances are reopened.
Okay, thank you.
Did we get a second on the motion to approve this? commercial Poland? Beckett. Okay. Seconded by Commissioner Poland. All those in favor say aye.
Any opposed? Seeing none that passes seven to zero J. Nine on our agenda is approval of our minutes from the December 16 2020. Meeting. Any discussion about the minutes? Any motion to approve the minutes? Commissioner Goldberg?
Yeah, I'll move to approve the December 16 minutes. Okay.
Do we have a second on that? Commissioner Paula. Seconded. I guess that's it. Yes. All those in favor of approving the minutes. Aye.
Any opposed? No one's opposed. Jane. The minutes are approved seven to zero. There are no public hearing items tonight because we have no projects in front of us. So move to item 10 our agenda, which is a discussion item and we're going to bring in our alternate commissioners, commissioners Catch Kohler and boon on this. Our discussion is going to be about ex parte communications and Open Meetings law. And it looks as though we have city attorney Eugene May, even though our agenda said, city attorney, Teresa Tate, so attorney may please take it away.
Thank you chair. Sure. anakee probably figured out, I am not Teresa Tate, she sends her regrets. She couldn't make it tonight. So I'm happy to fill in to go over some of the transparency laws that we have in the state of Colorado. Mainly the open records and Open Meetings Act, and specifically address quasi judicial proceedings. This is very similar to the presentation I give for new boards and commission members, except here a little more focused on quasi judicial proceedings. So Jane, or Steph, could you bring up my PowerPoint, please?
Thank you very much.
So next slide. So I mentioned our agenda, there's actually a addition to the agenda. I forgot to add amendment 41 ethics and government, I got two slides on that. It's real quick. And just a little bit about my approach. I don't expect you to remember all this open meetings, open record stuff. I'm just trying to get something on your radar, so that you're aware of the issues that usually could come up. And then if you got a question, please contact my office, Teresa, or one of the staff members, and we can help walk you through it. But just knowing how these transparency laws work, I think it's helpful to sort of keep you out of trouble. If you follow City Council, we've had some issues on open records, open meetings, and on certain board, certainly the city's boards and commissions. So we'll start with the open Records Act. Next slide. So in our parlance, city attorney's parlance, it's Cora, Colorado open Records Act. And it's been around for a while. You know, transparency in government is bedrock, I think of gaining trust of our community. And we take the open Records Act and Open Meetings law very seriously. And, you know, the policy reason behind both of them is, it's the People's Government, so the people should be able to see what's going on. And at least with the open Records Act, this operates through a request to see open records. Next slide. And it clearly applies to the city of Longmont. And it's very broad. So I think that the default is that the public gets a chance to see pretty much anything that's created within the context of the planning and zoning commission here. Next slide, please. You know, lawyers like to start with definitions. So the open rack open Records Act has a very broad definition of what a record is, it's all writings made maintain or kept by the city of LA. Next slide. These are some examples in our modern world, that constitute records under the open Records Act. It's basically everything, everything, electronic, everything, paper, everything in the file. And so these are subject to disclosure upon citizen making an open records request, we have three days to turn around. And I think my take home message here is, especially with emails, you know, these days, emails are so quick and easy that you might press send, maybe before you're ready, and I like to apply the front page Times called test before you hit set. Do you want this email to be on the front page of the times call? And if the answer is no, don't hit send. Think about it. Not that we're trying to get around open records. But you know, if you're talking about a sensitive topic, pick up the phone, there is no writing involved with a phone call. And therefore you have not created a public record subject to disclosure under the open Records Act.
So going to move on to the Open Meetings law. Similar to the open Records Act. You know the public policy is public business and It should not be done in secret. So the Open Meetings law starts, again, lawyers like definition. So very broad definition of meeting. It's any gathering by elected officials to discuss public business. And this could be by phone, zoom, this is a meeting under the open meetings, law, group emails. So that's usually a place where people could stub their toes. If you have multiple commissioners on an email list, or an email group, and are discussing public business that could that could be a meeting. So keep in mind, it could be group text to not sure if any of you are texters. But it's open meetings law specific, specifically talks about electronic communications. Next slide. It doesn't. So there are a couple important exceptions or limitations to the scope. There needs to be a demonstrated link between the meeting and the policymaking powers of the governmental entity. So just because it's a matter of public importance doesn't necessarily mean that it's a meeting subject to the Open Meetings law. There needs to be that connection to the policymaking process. I would think virtually everything that's on your agenda as the planning and zoning commission is within the policymaking process under the land development code for the city of Longmont, or making recommendations to city council. So those would clearly be meetings. You know, I think just the issues don't arise and planning and zoning commission meetings, they arise with gatherings of Commissioners outside these meetings. And so that's really
spidey sense should go off. The Colorado, Colorado Open Meetings law does have a couple of exceptions for chance meeting or social gatherings where the discussion of public business is not the central purpose. Those are not gatherings under the Open Meetings law. So the holiday party, if you guys hang out in the same social circles, generally would not be unless you start talking about planning and zoning commission business, in which case that social gathering that chance meeting at the pump house could turn into an Open Meetings law and create issues. And anybody feel free to raise your hand or interrupt me if you've got questions. Next slide. So there is a number limitation or trigger for the Open Meetings law makes it easy for me there are seven commissioners on the planning zoning there are seven city council members. So it's three or more. Two by two is okay. does not need to be noticed. But if there's three or more members of the planning zoning commission, then it's a meeting open to the public. You have to give notice and post an agenda with specific agenda information, where possible, at least 24 hours in advance and that so the public and have noticed and can come and participate in the meeting if they so choose. And that promotes transparency of what's going on in planning and zoning commission. Obviously, it's being live streamed nowadays. But before showing up in person you had to have notice. And you know, Jay noted that our official posting place is now the website. The Open Meetings law was changed maybe last year or the year before, to show a preference for posting on the website rather than physical locations just a lot easier and 2021 to check the webpage if you have access to internet. If you don't, then you can still check the physical locations, which is why the city is going to still post those in its traditional places. And then another requirement of the Open Meetings law is to take minutes so that the public can see action minutes. What happened at that meeting if they weren't able to attend if they're interested. Next slide. The Open Meetings law also recognizes that in certain certain circumstances, closed door meetings are permissible. Those are executive sessions. There are, I think seven permitted topics, at least for planning zoning commission, I would think Real Property transactions could be possible topic. personnel matters. And my favorite is legal advice. consultation with a attorney is privileged attorney client communications and those are confidential. You know, I think it rarely happens at boards, and commissions the need for Executive Session. But if you think you need one, the thing to remember is contact your staff liaison or the city attorney's office. There are a number of procedural safeguards that go along with proper convening, have an executive session and proper closure and documentation. And we're happy to help you out with that if you if you think you need it. Next slide. This was a quick addition that I forgot to put on the agenda. It's the amendment 41 gift ban. This was a voter initiated constitutional amendment in 2006. Addressing ethics and government, there are some other provisions in there about lobbying, which really aren't relevant here. What I like to get out, information wise to the boards and commission is there's a gift man, it was originally $50. From any person in any one calendar year, I do tell board and commission members, if you are thinking you are going to be making lots of money on the side by volunteering to be on the boards, you're sadly mistaken. But just want to make sure that you're aware of it. The $50 is CPI adjusted consumer price index, it's up to $65. Now, next slide. Yes, don't necessarily have to be cash. You can see, you know, Bach suite at the nuggets game, actually, the mayor did get invited to go to Xbox suite for nuggets game, as part of
being hosted by the Denver City Council, the Denver mayor and I said, Hey, but all that that clearly has a value greater than $65. It's by a private entity, Excel, I think it falls under the gift man. And then I called up Denver and said, Hey, what's going on? You're setting my Mayor up to have an ethics violation here. And they said, Well, we actually are home rule, city and county and have our own ethics code. So amendment 41 didn't apply in that circumstance. So a couple of minefields out there. Just think about it. There are exceptions. The biggest one is conferences where you're scheduled to speak, you know, they can pay your admission and cover food and some expenses associated with a conference. And then unsolicited tokens of appreciation or trivial value. You know, these are the gift exchanges between two governments. There are opinions, there's an independent ethics commission that is charged with administering and Mehmet 41. You know, we do SR city exchanges with Chino, Japan, and they exchange kimonos and, you know, things like that those are unsolicited tokens of appreciation. It's a gift to the city, not the individual council member or mayor. So that would follow fall under the exception. You know, if city council members with long service, they get a plaque for appreciation, you know, those are exempt from this, you know, those are not gifts to gain favor in any sort of manner. So that's all I got about amendment 41 $65 gift ban. Just look out if you're getting special treatment, because you're planning and zoning, Commissioner.
So quasi judicial proceedings are most relevant here. I think for most, most of your specific land use decisions, applications, planning and zoning commission is acting like a judge in a court of law. And, you know, in this part lands, those are quasi judicial proceedings and you're acting in a quasi judicial capacity. The characteristics of a quasi judicial proceeding, they're applying existing criteria or ordinances. You know, that's our land, land development code, to the facts of a specific property. They, the facts are presented at a hearing which has advanced notice, reasonable opportunity for interested persons to present evidence and argument about whether to approve or not. Next slide, please. For qyz, judicial proceedings, there are special protections and safeguards to ensure that the applicant and other interested parties have a fair hearing. property rights are at stake here. And so due process, make sure that it's fair and impartial hearing. In your role as quasi judicial decision makers, you ought to be applying the applicable land use criteria and base your decisions solely upon evidence. Upon the record of that, you know, agenda item. Those that type of thing, evidence is usually staff and applicant reports and presentations, you know, something you're pretty used to finding the packet. And in that packet, there may be community input received from the notice you get hearings, you get emails, you get other types of input from the community. Those form the record for the proceeding, and if they were to be appealed, either to city council or district court, you know, that would be the administrative record that your decision was was made upon.
So the big warning here is watch out for ex parte communications. on the previous slide was stated that you are to make your decisions based upon evidence presented at the hearing. The flipside is, don't consider stuff not presented at the hearing. You know, the rationale for that is fair and impartial, where the applicant, other interested parties can see all the evidence contested. Ask questions. And make argument at the hearing. The Ex parte communication means like without the other party. So this is, you know, if you're the applicant, and you guys are talking to members of the public that's happening outside the presence of the party, or the applicant and bad that is seen as unfair under the law. When things get heated, neighborhood issues arise, you know, members of the public want to start contacting people, you know, I usually am advising City Council. And if I know they're hearing a quasi judicial matter, on appeal, from a planning zoning matter, I will send them an email and let them know hey, look out for ex parte communications, we got a quasi judicial appeal coming. And please, direct members of the public that contact you to either submit written comments via email, or attend the hearing and present your testimony then. But as a quasi judicial decision maker, you should not be having those private ex parte communications with members of the public because it's outside the record.
And this is serious business. You know, as my as the attorney advising City Council, I think my job is to create a record that will uphold whatever decision they make. And so if we have ex parte communications going on, that is a way in which that decision could be overturned. And, you know, it's not fatal if you have an ex parte communication, as long as you cut it off, as soon as you recognize what it is, you know, sometimes it takes a little while to figure out what a member of the public is talking about. So, you know, I advise if your ex parte communication is limited to just figuring out what it is, once you figure it out what it is say, Oh, you know, please submit a comment to this city planner, or come to the hearing, and present your testimony then, or, and or don't contact me on my personal email, contact me on my city email, and then submit your comments to planning. If it's, you know, that sort of scope, I don't think I think that can be cured by disclosure at the hearing of the timing and nature of those communications. And ultimately, the decision would be for the individual Commissioner or council member to see They can remain fair and impartial decision maker. If you want to be super conservative and cautious, you can ask the applicant and other interested parties. Does anybody have an objection? Based on the sort of disclosure? I think that's safe and good practice. If you get into the substance of, of the agenda item of the quasi judicial matter, I think you should recuse. Because those ex parte communications, if you participate in the vote, could be grounds for overturning it. And, you know, that's the reason why we have one of the reasons why we have alternate alternate commissioners, is if you do get into a situation like this, you can still have a full planning and zoning commission vote on the matter.
Next slide, please.
So that that's the information that I had tonight, you know, a couple of takeaways. Front Page time called test Times called test for open records. You know, if you, if you want to be proud to put your name on it, and the front page of time called don't send it, think about it twice. three or more is a meeting under the open meetings, law. Watch out for gifts, and other ways where members of the public may be trying to curry favor with planning and zoning commissioners. And if you've got matters on your agenda, you shouldn't be talking to members of the public outside the hearing context. So that's it. I don't know if anybody has any questions, or looks.
It looks as though we do Eugene. And first off, I want to thank you for doing this. Tonight. I've been serving on this commission for a number of years, and I find that I I really hear something new every single time I get a presentation like this. So I really do appreciate it. Um, Commissioner Goldberg, you had a question?
Yeah, thanks, Chairman, and a quick echo of your sentiments. Thank you, Jean, for the refresher, this is just so critical for us to maintain the integrity of our commission. I think it's something that we're all very passionate about. Eugene, I know this sounds really silly, after you concluded with some really serious, you know, risks and violations, but some, some in the past we have discussed. What about a site visit? What about going to the location of a project that we're about to review? on our own? What, uh, what about pulling up Google Maps dropping in Street View and kind of doing research beyond what is provided in the packet? Is there any guidance there? Whether we, cool, that makes you a more educated Commissioner more prepared to make a decision, or that garnering information that the rest of the commissioners aren't privy to?
Thank you for the question. I'd say that, that you get into a lot of gray area, you know, site visits. We, and this goes I don't know if anybody remembers j ROC. He was the land use attorney when I got here 10 years ago. And Jay would just tell me, you know, having commissioners go out there to a site is just inviting ex parte. Right, the property owner comes out says Hey, what are you doing? Well, and we got a problem there. I think in certain circumstances, site visits, as a commission, as you know, all together may be appropriate if it's a particularly complex project, or big site, or if you got, you know, adjacent property issues. You know, in those rare circumstances, you could arrange a site visit, obviously, it's logistically hard to arrange, and you have commissioners talking when they're there. So, you know, there's there's minefields all over the place, but, you know, a picture's worth 1000 words. And, you know, a site visits got to be worth a million words to actually, you know, see the layout physically. So, given all those challenges and pitfalls and minefields out there, generally we would discourage site visits. It just seems to be inviting problems in terms of the additional research, another gray area, so I think one of the great benefits, and reasons for citizen boards is that each volunteer comes with their own life experiences. And that that's really the value of getting together a board like this where everybody's coming from different walks of life different job experiences, and can mesh on those different views. I don't particularly like the idea of Commissioners doing a lot of independent research, I think that creates an unlevel playing field. I think that, you know, during disclosure, if you do gain some information from an ex parte communication, part of that disclosure is to share that information with the rest of the Commission, create a level playing field, making sure the applicant and other interested parties are all hearing the same information. You know, people are curious, and now the internet is is, you know, just the entry point to the whole world of whatever you want to find. So I think basic information like satellite, Google Earth kind of stuff, pretty harmless. But if you start getting into Oh, you know, let me see what, what's going on with the business next door, started looking into their operations, fighting, noise issues, compatibility issues, parking, you know, if you get into the substance of what the criteria are for that particular land use application, then I think you're starting to get into murky, murky territory, where you are creating an imbalance of information where your decision may not be made on evidence presented at the hearing.
Thank you. Appreciate the perspective there.
Thank you. And I also appreciate you giving us this refresher and be nice if it happened every year. My question is, I want to clarify, is it because we are seven that it's more than two constitutes a meeting? Yes. Okay. But is it correct that two people, two members could talk about an agenda item in amongst themselves?
They could and not trigger open meetings. You might have. It's not quite ex parte. But if you're discussing substantive issues on an application, that's probably not a great idea. I think that there's other concerns under due process. One of them is sort of prejudgment. If you come up with a position before you hear the evidence, that could show bias. And, you know, I think you hit on another sort of murky area. I like to direct board members, council members to staff, if there's a quasi judicial proceeding, and they have questions or information needs, and in that way, staff can get it out to all the board members, and they can put that information in the packet and have it in the record so that everyone's on a same level playing field once you get to the hearing. I think it's that imbalance pre hearing that makes me nervous. That creates,
even though it's two members, they can't talk substantive. Which leads me to next question ex parte communication. is about an item planning generally not. If it's an issue that's not on an agenda, at least presently, is there appropriate to talk to the public about planning? And for instance, with the role of the planning and zoning commission, is that okay, or is that when you start crossing the line into ex parte
So, so a couple of thoughts there. So the world is generally for lawyers divided into quasi judicial, and then Legislative for the most part, legislative would be sort of comp plan or envision long line where you're doing the whole city, or you're looking at other policies that don't affect particular properties. you're considering ordinance changes, that would be prospective, you know, affecting the entire city if we were to change our landscape regulations. In that case, legislative, you know, that's when all that lobbying takes place. That's where members of the public started contacting elected officials. And that's fine, because it's not affecting an individual property owners rights.
you know, that's one distinction. If it's legislative, that's fine to talk about. If it's procedural to, you know, I'm worried about the substance, you guys started talking about criteria as as applicable to a particular application. Blood pressure goes up. If you're talking to a member of the public about, you know, generally what planning and zoning does, you know, not in reference to any particular application, but just its role within the land development process. That's absolutely fine. The other sort of trigger point is I think I do an analysis. You said, the circumstance where an application is not pending, but you think, Well, you know, it will be pending soon. So then I look at the proximity of sort of when that application will be filed, you know, once that application is filed, then that initiates the quasi judicial proceedings, ex parte rules are fully in effect. But even before that, if you know that application is about to be filed, you know, it's going to be controversial, and the neighbors are contacting you, then, even though there's technically not an application on file, even though there's technically not a quasi judicial proceeding underway right now. But it's going to be next week. And then, you know, in that in those circumstances, I tell my council members, you know, stay away from those neighborhood meetings or that invitation to come talk to the neighborhood, because that's going to create trouble. Look, because the planning zoning Commissioner was at my house, you know, last week, oh, technically, it wasn't, you know, an application pending, but you knew it was common. And, you know, I like to try to keep either our PC Commissioner or council members far away from that line as I can. And so, you know, the circumstance I'm thinking of, and this is because I usually advise counsel is I see peasy matter, neighborhoods mad as Hornets. I know, that thing is going to be appealed. You know, I might send out preliminary warning to my council members, hey, P and Z's here, in this one this week, it's coming your way on an appeal, you probably want to stay clear the neighbors, just because, you know, there's the appearance of sort of sort of bias or impropriety. And then there's the actual legal overturn, you know, ex parte communications concerns. And I think both are real legitimate concerns for people to take into account. appearances, sometimes can can carry the day, and don't want you guys getting into political messages or public relation type messages. And certainly I don't want my council members doing that. Thank
you, Jamie. I have a question for and this ties to part of Commissioner heights question. Um, when we communicate to city staff with a question how do I know when I should add Deputy Attorney Teresa tape to that communication? I mean, should I around the side of always including her or where's where's the dividing line? I'm really not clear on that. Um, you know, I
think it's hard to, to generalize. You know, I don't know what it's about, you know, if you're looking at comments on a draft inclusionary housing ordinance. You know, in that case, I think clearly a legislative matter. direct communication with staff members would be fine. You know, I think Dan Kramer was the one drafting that one back then. You know, Dan, smart guy, if you want to talk to Dan I've got no no problems with you guys talking to my attorneys. If it's, you know, more that side versus a policy side with a staff person. I would err in including attorneys. Were paranoid by nature, sorry, judge. And we'd like to be aware, we like to be able to issue spot before it gets to be a problem. And, you know, I can't imagine you'd be flooding, Teresa's email inbox with CCS. And, you know, we want to be there to help our boards and commissions do the right thing and provide information where necessary and try to keep you guys out of trouble. Or we can so I would err in copying Teresa.
Okay, great. Thank you. Um, any other questions or for Eugene?
commercial Goldberg? Yeah, I
guess, you know, Thank you, Chairman for bringing that up. That, you know, I can't help but think about just today as an example where I had reached out to staff, and I'm kind of looking at you, Eugene, wellness while I'm posing this, you know, reached out to Jane added today and Joanie chairman. Sure, Nick. And Don, I think, on a just just some research and information on apartment vacancy rates in Longmont. I didn't think to add the legal team, but encouraged Jane to see if this is something that they could share with the rest of the Commission. You know where it is, again, that's kind of that research gathering. It's relevant to the business that we do. No doubt in the future, there will be apartment projects brought to us. But it's not about any one particular project and just a matter of information sharing, I guess. So. Any, any takeaway on that?
You know, that one? To me, it's there's not a lot of legal implications of that information. And it sounds like you're just trying to figure out sort of the status of where long on is if we got a global pandemic going on, and all sorts of craziness. And what's our vacancy? rates? Like, you know, are people hurting? Are people getting kicked out? You know, all that kind of stuff? To me that that's sort of a pure informational policy matter, that I think your instincts were right not to copy Teresa on that one. I mean, she might find it interesting. But there's not legal issues involved. You know, it seems pretty harmless from a issue legal issue spotting perspective that, you know, you're not going to get in trouble by trying to figure out vacancy rates, it doesn't apply to any pending application. Just pure information would be not CC.
Any other questions for Eugene on this? Okay, Eugene, thank you so much, really appreciate it on. And, you know, again, both you and Teresa do just a wonderful job of giving us support when you need it. So,
and I just want to say thank you, to you all for your service. I am very impressed by the way that you conduct your meetings, that you follow the code, and you make good decisions. We're the decision maker and provide solid recommendations to council where you're recommending body and I really have great respect for the work that you guys do.
Okay, thanks. Okay, we are going to move on to item 11 on our agenda, which is our final call for the public invited to be heard. So Steph, if we could bring up our information slide please. If you want to call in, make comments about something that's not on tonight's agenda, please call 1-888-788-0099. When prompted, enter the meeting id 84566084140. When we're ready to hear public comment, we will call on you to speak based on the last three digits of your phone number. Each speaker must state their name and address for the record and will be allowed five minutes to speak. Please remember to mute the live stream when you are called upon to speak takes five minutes for us to bring in anybody who calls in so we will take a five minute break starting now.
Stephane, I'll just confirm with you whether we had anybody calling or not, please.
We did not have anybody call it.
Okay. All right, we will close the public invited to be heard. Thank you stuff. Item 12. on our agenda is items from the commission. I actually we'd like to go back to Commissioner Goldberg's question about vacancy rates. And I have a question for Glenn and Dawn. Um, one thing that that's missing for me with the data that that Aaron sent to us this evening, which I really appreciate her pulling that together so quickly, by the way, was what is considered a, a good vacancy rate. What what what are we looking at 5%? Is that the threshold? Like more vacancies than that is, is good or bad? How do you consider the vacancy rate? And what do we compare it to?
Well, maybe I'll start I mean, I've generally use anywhere from five to 10% is kind of a healthy vacancy rate. So we're, we're right there. What this doesn't show you is kind of a seasonal changes. So I think we're in a pretty healthy boat, and I thought you were going to perhaps ask, you know, what do we have on the books that maybe isn't out of the ground yet? And how does that look? So I did talk to Aaron, earlier today. And I think maybe we can put together some of those numbers as well. It was kind of interesting. I just read an article that and I forget what project it was in Longmont, but it recently sold for I think one of the highest prices. Are you familiar with that? Chairman? Yeah, it's like $300,000 a door basically. So it doesn't seem like we're getting oversaturated. Okay,
Commissioner Goldberg, did you have more you wanted to add to the discussion? groups, for some reason, we're not getting your audio.
Because when there's six year olds in the house, you double meet yourself. So I would be remiss if we close out tonight without giving a big plug to Aaron fosdick, especially with her boss on the line here, sent that email out yesterday or early this morning and just very appreciative for the quick turn by the team. Not just a quick response, but a really thorough response. So thank you for that. No additional comments, except for I was looking for kind of what is normal or what isn't that we're that we're striving for? and chairman? Sure. And I touched on that. So I'll go back on mute and appreciate the feedback. Great,
I don't know if Don's on the line maybe he certainly is more familiar with the market in Longmont.
Don, any comments?
No, I think the thing that the Commission and and the citizens might want to keep in mind is that while there is probably a range that economists or people like that would tell us is something we should strive for, I think that, you know, the, the lower that number is so lower than five like one to 3% that just means that it's harder for people to find a place to live in Longmont. That means that the prices that are being charged, are probably higher, which makes the ability for people like you know, we have a new staff member who just moved into the community and for her to find an apartment, you know that that would be very challenging if that rental vacancy rate was so low to where she couldn't afford to live in the town that she wants to work for. So, you know, again, I smarter people than me can tell you what that range should be. But, again, I think we want to keep it so that that numbers a little, little, a little bigger, just so that some of the pricing and the opportunities for people to move into our great community are there and that people of all aspects of work can find a place to live in Longmont that meets their needs.
Okay, thanks, Don. Um, I do recall seeing a recent headline as well that Longmont was pegged as being a renter friendly town, one of the top renter friendly towns in the country. Glen, did you happen to see that as well?
No, I didn't.
Um, well, commission, Robert,
you know, maybe just one follow up to the discussion Chairman would be, you know, I guess my question might be, does it really matter for our commission? Or when does it matter for our commission to weigh the current environment in our town? When can we apply our own beliefs or the knowledge that was just given to us in as it relates to approving or denying a project is? When is the burden on our commission to determine if that land should be used as for, you know, high density or low density apartment or? Nah, man, we, Glenn says, we're right at that sweet spot where five to 10% it'd be better if this was, you know, normal, you know, single family homes. So I guess maybe I'll just open that up for you know, when do we even take this information and apply it in real time?
Now I saw Commissioner Hi, you were shaking your head a bit. Um, you want to chime in?
I try. My sense is, in Eugene, you're gonna have to chime in to that in our role as quasi judicial functionaries. We take the code, the code allows the code adopts a zoning plan, and sets a zoning ordinance or sets, zoning areas to come into prominence developer to come in and show and prove to us that his project or project its project meets the standards to put in what the zoning allows. It's, as I see it, generally, it's not our job. Except that when we looked at the overall comp plan, and we came up with envision online, it's not our job to say, Here's too many apartments. Yeah, there's too much industrial. Yeah, it's if it fits, where the comp plan says it fits. And it otherwise meets the conditions that it's, you know, appropriate within the community and meets all the 15 1505 standards in energy through that citation out. If it meets the general conditions of approval. You know, we pass on whether or not the zoning vacancy rates are high or low. I don't think comes to us. Eg Are you still here?
Chairman and commission? I think that's exactly right. You apply the criteria and the land use code. And I don't think overall housing stock or vacancy rates are one of those criteria. I think that in the big picture, like the Envision picture, where you're looking at different at the city as a whole, that could potentially be a consideration when you're making those types of decisions. But you'll never go wrong applying the criteria in the code on specific applications. And I will have to beg, Depart and cut the commission. I got hungry teenagers, and I'm filling in tonight, and I'm trying to make dinner right now. So I might take my leave, if that's okay. I got stuff on the grill. And I think we're wrapping up and they're saying when's dinner, dad. So thank you very much for the invitation tonight. Thank you. Thank
you so much, Eugene, I have a great dinner. I'm very European of you, too. So any further discussion about this item or this issue? I should say? Okay, um, any other items from the commission? Okay. Any items from council representative Aaron Rodriguez.
I just want to say Happy New Year to the commission and I look forward to working with you at least through November.
All right, great, thank you. items from our planning director Glenn.
Um, the only thing I wanted to add is to congratulate you Mr. Chairman and vice chairman, Poland for being reelected by your peers. And you did that peacefully and we don't have to worry about a transfer of power. So that's a great thing. I appreciate everybody's efforts. Great. Thank
you very much, Glen. Um, last item on our agenda number 15 is a German if I see nobody opposed to the German then We're adjourned. Thanks, everybody. Take care.