By Daniel Ritz
On Sept. 4, City Council once again discussed the topic of story poles, as Councilmember Debra Lewis requested that the Council direct staff to write a story pole ordinance to be returned to Council for review and approval by no later than Tuesday, Oct. 3.
Story poles are used to depict elevations and silhouettes of a proposed structure or an addition to an existing building. They are intended to aid neighbors, staff personnel and members of the decision making bodies in their evaluation of a project application. While computer modeling is beneficial for aesthetics and determining how well a proposed project blends with a neighborhood, story poles provide a visual tool to allow neighbors and decision making bodies to evaluate, mass, bulk, volume and impact on a neighborhood.
Lewis claimed, and was supported by a number of public speakers, that story poles allow the public to be aware of the impact of potential construction to their communities, and encourage community awareness.
Mayor Pro-Tem Joe Muller and Mayor Richard Viczorek opposed the proposal, reminding the Council that story poles have already been considered and sent to the Planning Commission for consideration by the Council previously. There, they were deemed unnecessary.
A large number of Home Owner Association’s (HOA) throughout Dana Point already mandate the use of story poles.
In the end, Councilmember John Tomlinson was the swing vote, deciding to allow the Planning Commission to reconsider their position on a city-wide story pole ordinance. The planning commission’s decision will be reported back to City Council where a decision will be made on whether to instruct staff to craft an ordinance.