Regarding Susan Kirsch's "End of the Trees, End of an Era" article, this was one very iffy process:
The MV Council stalwartly defended property owners rights — for an absentee owner. Staff advised the property Owner about MV’s tree ordinance requirements, but responses were from the Applicant's team. The Applicant is a fast food pizza chain selling pre-prepared frozen pizza dough to be baked and topped in the former Gira Polli site.
During Presentations, the architect for the project pointedly was identified as the former Mayor of MV, but hey! no bias here, maybe just a little FYI? Mentioning Bilbo Baggins, the former mayor and architect likened the existing building to a Tolkien set, and lamented the project did not have the budget for a new building.
What? The Applicant sold a chain of bakeries to Starbucks in 2012 for a reported $100M, and, does any one recall Gira Polli having a negative image issue?
Contradictions were rife: the existing Ironbark eucalyptus erroneously were linked to the expense of code-required ADA compliance and sprinkler installation. In the original Landscape Plan the existing trees to be retained. The architect stated the “landscaping plan was more important than anything in this project”. Justification for saving the Ryan Ave trees was their value as a welcome transition to the neighborhood, and yet, the large Ironbarks facing the intersection are to be be cut down?
When those trees are removed, the approved plan means diners seated on the deck of the restaurant will enjoy the 42 inch boxwood “sweet spot” to shield them from the tires of passing traffic at the busiest intersection in Mill Valley. (A little Bridgestone in the added cheese topping, sounds zesty, no?)
There were procedural questions: after the period for submittal of Public Comment period closed, the 40 lines of new Findings were added to the Staff Report. This was waved off by the City attorney as SOP. Wow! the crush between the March 10 Planning Commission decision and the May 4 public hearing must have worked a real hardship in preparing the council’s Staff Report.
During the meeting, staff acknowledged a series of attachments from the Watershed Alliance which supported tree retention were omitted from the council packet. and withheld from the council’s consideration. Saying “I know you can’t read them” a staff member displayed slides rendered illegible because of text size and scroll speed in the staff’s ‘screen share’.
Public comment was impeded due to technical difficulties. To the Vice Mayor’s credit, a 10 minute recess provided added time for emailed public comment.
The Council has voted vote Mill Valley to approve a Commercial Corner to match the other three commercial developments at the E Blithedale/Camino Alto gateway. Residents will see what has been lost and decide what to do about it.