March 21st, 2013 | Aaron Mesh News | Posted In: City Hall, Housing, Activism, Politics

Novick Says City Apartment Permit "Messed Up Six Ways to Sunday"

     
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news1-novick_3826ALL ABOUT STEVE: Novick on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard. - IMAGE: Darryl James

City Commissioner Steve Novick has sent an email strongly criticizing city officials—including a staffer in Mayor Charlie Hales' office—for reversing course and seeking a quick permit for a controversial Southeast Division Street apartment building.

The city had issued a stop-work order for Beaverton-based developer Dennis Sackhoff's 37th Street Apartments last month, after a state land-use appeals board ruled the building was illegally permitted. Development Services officials told neighbors fighting the project that it would need a new application and a public hearing on April 8.

But on Tuesday, the Bureau of Development Services announced it was reviewing a revised permit application—without telling City Council or neighbors.

Novick's email, addressed to Bureau of Development Services Director Paul Scarlett and Hales' policy director Ed McNamara, says the "surprise reversal" is "inexplicable and indefensible."

Novick's email personally speaks to Scarlett and McNamara's roles in the reversal.

"Paul, I appreciate your years of service to the city, and especially your and your office’s work on seismic issues," Novick writes, "and Ed, you and I go back a long way and I love ya, but this situation is (to use a genteel phrasing) messed up six ways to Sunday."

WW first reported Wednesday that City Commissioners didn't know that the Bureau of Development Services was working with the City Attorney's Office and Hales' staffers to offer a revised permit to the much-decried 81-unit project, described by Commissioner Nick Fish as "a poster child" for oversized infill apartments without on-site parking. 

Notably, the stop-work order came after the state Land Use Board of Appeals rejected the project not based on its lack of parking, but on a technicality: The apartment lacked an entrance on Division Street, which violates city codes.

Here's the full text of Novick's email, sent today at 12:09 pm:
Paul and Ed – see below --  I trust that you are following this closely. It is clear that, based on new legal advice, BDS began reconsidering this issue almost immediately after Ms. Esau (in good faith I might add) informed the residents that a new permit was required, neighborhood contact necessary, etc. I do not understand why BDS did not quickly inform residents, not to mention Commissioners’ offices, that the issue was being reevaluated. The option BDS chose – to leave the residents (and us) believing that the issue was closed, until after the LUBA appeal deadline had passed, and then issue a surprise reversal – is inexplicable and indefensible. Paul, I appreciate your years of service to the city, and especially your and your office’s work on seismic issues, and Ed, you and I go back a long way and I love ya, but this situation is (to use a genteel phrasing) messed up six ways to Sunday.
 
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