Land use and zoning matters are considered by the Planning Commission according to their place on a predetermined meeting agenda. The meeting agenda includes an estimate of the time of day that each hearing item will be heard by the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission will not take up an item for consideration prior to the scheduled time shown on the meeting agenda. However, some hearing items may commence later than the scheduled time if one or more of the preceding hearing items extends beyond the allotted time estimate. Once a project has been noticed to the public and announced on a published meeting agenda, any request for a continuance of the public hearing will be considered by the Planning Commission at the scheduled hearing.
The basic protocol for a Planning Commission hearing is described in the Planning Commission Protocols and normally takes place in the following sequence:
Initial Transactions. The Planning Commission approves minutes and resolutions from previous hearings, discloses pertinent communications, receives the Director’s Report (informational briefings on upcoming agenda items and other matters of interest to the Planning Commission), and conducts open time for public expression on items that are not on that day’s agenda.
Introduction. The Chairperson of the Planning Commission (Chairperson) will begin the meeting by announcing the name of the project or matter to be heard and request that all members of the public wishing to speak fill out a "Request to Speak" form (pink slip) and turn it into the Planning Commission Secretary.
Staff Presentation. The Chairperson will request that a staff member present a summary of the staff report (staff reports are available online on the Planning Commission website, hard copies are available at the hearing and at the Community Development Agency Planning Division office prior to the meeting). Staff concludes their report by making a recommendation based upon findings required by law. The Planning Commission then has the opportunity to ask questions of staff related to the hearing item and/or the staff recommendation.
Public Hearing. The Chairperson will open the public hearing by giving the project applicant the opportunity to make a presentation of up to ten minutes. If the hearing item involves an appeal of a zoning and development permit, the appellant is similarly given ten minutes to make an initial presentation followed by the applicant. The applicant's or appellant's time may be shared by a property owner and his or her consultants (e.g., architect, engineer, attorney, etc.). After the applicant (and appellant, for an appeal hearing) has made his/her presentation, the Chairperson will invite testimony from anyone else in the audience. Public testimony is normally limited to three minutes for each speaker in order to complete the hearing in a timely manner. Each speaker is given one opportunity to address the Planning Commission. This means that multiple testimony and rebuttals will not be allowed unless specifically permitted by the Planning Commission. Any questions of the Planning Commission, staff or those giving testimony should be addressed through the Chairperson, who may call upon the appropriate person to respond.
Planning Commission Decision. Once the public testimony portion of the hearing is closed, the Planning Commissioners will discuss the hearing item, possibly ask additional questions of staff, and express their opinions. The Planning Commission will then make a decision on the hearing item that may follow the staff recommendation, modify the staff recommendation, or differ substantially from the staff recommendation. In some cases, a hearing item may be continued to a future meeting to allow for the submittal of additional information, further analysis, or to provide an applicant with the opportunity to revise a proposal to respond to issues of concern to the Planning Commission. If an item is continued and you cannot appear at the continued hearing, you may write a letter to the Planning Commission indicating your concerns or other points and whether you support or oppose the proposal. A copy of the final decision by the Planning Commission and minutes of the hearing are available on the Planning Commission Hearings web page.