San Anselmo

San Anselmo sticks with disputed Hub apartment house approval By: Richard Halstead (rhalstead@marinij.com) POSTED: Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016 – 5:56 p.m. UPDATED: TODAY An illustration shows the side view of a proposed apartment building at 754 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in San Anselmo. (Wright Architecture Studio) It was do-over night in San Anselmo this week. The San Anselmo Town Council on Tuesday backed off the idea of rethinking its approval of a three-story, 16-unit apartment building at 754 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. near the Hub. The project is so controversial that a group of residents has threatened to take the matter to court if the town allows the project to move forward. The council also embraced a request by David Swaim, former chairman of the Planning Commission, to rescind his resignation, which he submitted on Sept. 22. The two issues had a common thread: Swaim’s resignation came after Mayor Ford Greene criticized his decision to approve the 754 Sir Francis Drake project. Greene said Wednesday, “Both of us could have done better so as to avoid unnecessary drama.” Advertisement The rancor began when Greene asked Swaim during an interview for reinstatement to the Planning Commission how that body could have unanimously approved “a property that looks like a San Jose Marriott.” In his letter of resignation, submitted the next day, Swaim wrote, “I no longer feel I can serve under Mayor Ford Greene as his grandstanding, public, humiliating attack, directed at myself last night was classless at best.” Greene responded that it was probably appropriate for Swaim to resign if he couldn’t take “the heat in the kitchen.” Eight days after resigning, Swaim sent a letter to Town Manager Debbie Stutsman saying that he had changed his mind and wanted to be reinstated. “My intention always was to bring some accountability and light to the way we treat one another and I believe that has been achieved,” Swaim wrote. “I am hopeful that we can move past this and treat each other with the respect and kindness we all deserve.” The council still must decide whether to appoint Swaim to another term on the commission; there are five people applying for four seats. Stay the course After listening to a number of residents at Tuesday’s meeting call for a reversal on 754 Sir Francis Drake, the council decided 3-1, with Councilman Tom McInerney dissenting, to stay the course. Greene, who owns and lives in a building adjacent to 754 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., recused himself from participation as a member of the council, but he did join the discussion as an audience member. On July 26, the council voted 3-1, with McInerney dissenting and Greene recusing himself, to reject an appeal of a Planning Commission decision to approve the apartment building at the Hub. Planning Director Elise Semonian told the council at the time that it lacked legal grounds to deny the project, because it is taking advantage of the state’s density bonus law and the town’s commercial zones lack density limits. Opponents of the project, however, asserted that the council could have required design changes to make the building more attractive. On Tuesday, McInerney said, “The reason why there is such outrage is because this is a highly visible project at the Hub of our town. You can’t tell me this is a design we’re proud of. It’s overbearing. It looms over Sir Francis Drake.” Design in question Speaking along with other residents during the public hearing preceding the vote, Greene said he believes the geotechnical report on the site failed to adequately describe the risk of a landslide there. Greene said that that failure provided a legal opening for the council to reverse its decision. But the other three council members felt differently. “Do I love the design, no; do I hate the design, no,” said Councilman Matt Brown. David Nolen Swaim Owner Tam Realty Inc DRE-1070789 609 San Anselmo Ave San Anselmo CA 94960 415-710-5504 www.tamrealty.com

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