To the Editor:

The Excelsior Residential Review Process is the most recent legislative attempt toward uniformity in our neighborhood landscape. The ordinance is meant to balance house structure size to be compatible relative to neighboring houses. The job to oversee the conduction of the Residential Review Process was given by the City Council to the Planning Commission. The Planning Commissioners are fairly well versed in code interpretation, yet they are not elected by the voting public. Instead, they are selected by the City Council. Such an important and crucial component to Excelsior’s identity when deciding about a particular building project should remain with the council. The measure releases the council of the responsibility inherent in a job that they were voted into. By allowing the Planning Commission to be the de facto council on a house project makes public-backed endorsement suspect. Close comparison can be described as representation once removed. Not a clean and legitimate process nor one in which our country was founded.

As much as I would like the Residential Review Process to succeed, initiated by 235 Excelsior resident signatures during summer 2020, I do not give the effectiveness of the new ordinance much of a shelf life. So far, two houses, one nearly and the other over 5,000 square feet have been approved. Subjectivity, social influence, exclusion and conditioned perspectives continue to outweigh the objective criteria of building limits in which the Residential Review Process was intended to regulate.

Peter J. Hartwich


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