My civic duty

Four weeks in a ROW! Quaker Vigil for Peace and Justice! Whoo Hooo!

If nothing else, I had a chance to stand still and pray for peace in the world and in my family. Chris is away, taking care of his mother in the hospital this week. It's been hard being a single parent for a week, but so much harder to become the caretaker of your parent.

But that's not all. Then I got to go to my first planning commission hearing in years! My older son practically learned to walk in the halls outside the commission chambers. When he was really little, Chris and I were very involved in the Coalition for Jobs, Arts and Housing, a group advocating against gentrification in the South of Market and Mission Districts, specifically the so-called live/work loft scams. But I hadn't been there in years. My younger son, who is almost six, may never have been to a planning commission hearing.

The occasion was that a developer has proposed a 17 story luxury condo development on the lot next to our little 2 story Meetinghouse. There are a number of issues, not least of which is the lack of public notice about the project. The biggest thing for our Meeting is that they proposed to put the only entry/exit point to the garage on the wall adjacent to our meeting for worship room. There are also environmental issues that have been ignored by the developer.

The bad news is that I had to leave after two hours to go pick up my kids from their afterschool program, and our item had not yet come up on the agenda, so I didn't get to speak. The worse news is that our item on the agenda ran until 8:00 p.m! Like three hours from the time it first started. Six and a half hours after the meeting began. I feel so sorry for the folks who had to stay for the whole thing and so glad that I decided not to try and take my kids back to the hearing so that I could speak.

The good news is that the approval did not get rubber stamped. The commission postponed the decision for five weeks to allow further public input and to get the design issues worked out. I hope that the good work that the Meeting's Property and Finance Committee did and the dozen meeting folks who turned out will encourage the developer to negotiate on the level from now on.

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Blogger cubbie said...

it was funny at the study group last night. we kept wondering where everyone else was and kind of not believing that they could all be at the hearing still. but they were, and then suddenly 4 more people showed up (bringing our total to nine)! and we got to hear all about it, which was really good. and we all said that if we'd known it was going to start that late, we'd probably be there, too.

11/09/2007 10:08 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Well, there will be a next time. Maybe we'll send over a recruiter if it's going that late again, and it probably will.

It's funny, and not so funny, that on the Planning Commission's agenda it specifically states that they will not call any new agenda items after 10:00 p.m.

I'm sorry I missed you again at the vigil. 12:40 seems to be the earliest I can get there.

11/10/2007 1:54 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

I would like to attend the Peace Vigil this Thursday during my lunch hour. I've never been to a peace vigil before. As an action-oriented person, I never understood vigils, but now I do "get it" and want to participate.

11/12/2007 1:45 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Great, Allison! When you get there, look for the little cart with the stack of signs. You can choose to hold any of them that appeals to you, or no sign at all. One of the nice things is that you can come for as long as you can, and leave when you need to, to get back to work. I will probably get there in the second half of the hour long vigil. And if you don't make it over this week, you can always pray for peace and justice wherever you are. I am finding it helps to set aside this little bit of time for that purpose, to write it in my calendar, like I would any other appointment, and to be mindful for a second of my care for peace and justice every time I see the word "vigil" in my calendar.

It is also helping me be more efficient in my tasks on Thursday mornings so that I can get there at all.

11/12/2007 2:25 PM  
Blogger Laurie Chase Kruczek said...

"The occasion was that a developer has proposed a 17 story luxury condo development on the lot next to our little 2 story Meetinghouse."

The same thing happened to my parent's home, with a condo complex totally eclipsing the north side of my childhood home. Now my parents are trying to sell their place (Portland has one of the only good housing markets left anymore) and no one, I mean NO ONE wants it.

I really hope the developers will take into account the scale and balance of the adjacent properties, and remembers that Quakers are PEACEFUL people, but can still fight for fair community development.

Good luck to you guys. Your situation is in my prayers.

PS Robin, I'm back. So good to see you again :)

11/12/2007 8:16 PM  

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