‘I Didn’t Say That at the Hearing’ Khau Said.

 

Circling the News published a November 28 story (“Councilmember Traci Park Promises to Visit Tramonto: Hears Residents’ Concerns”).

The story began, “Councilmember Traci Parks Planning and Transportation Deputy Jeff Khau said at the November 15 hearing about the Tramonto Slide that The Councilwoman was satisfied that all the neighbor’s concerns had been addressed.”

One resident wrote “That was a polite way of saying he was blowing smoke. The more than 70 residents who voiced opposition because of safety/landslide concerns clearly didn’t have their concerns addressed.”

Khau wrote CTN on November 29 and said he had been misquoted. Two days earlier, this editor had sent that quote to Councilmember Traci Park’s office, before printing the story. The quote was not corrected.

In fairness to Khau, this editor did not attend the November 15 hearing. One reader had reported:

“At the start, the Commissioners had to postpone the hearing because they said they could not accommodate all the people that showed up to speak. Many people made the effort to leave work early and travel to the hearing in person, in the rain, but were asked to leave and encouraged to go home and join the Zoom. The claim was that the room was at maximum capacity of 69 people, and at least 10 – 15 people were turned away.  None of the developer’s cohorts or city employees were asked to vacate. Only residents.

“The Zoom had very poor audio and cut out several times as the Wifi router ran out of power. People could not hear or see the speaker commenting. Even the city consultants were complaining about the muffled sound.

“The meeting went past 10 p.m., the library facilities were closed, and the lights cut off. Just as the Commissioners began to render their disappointing and heartbreaking decision in the dark, the Zoom cut off for good,” the reader wrote.

“As the deliberations began, it seemed as if the appeal would at first be successful, as Commissioner Esther Margulies had serious doubts about the sizes of the houses and the amount of grading and hauling… but alas the other two Commissioners convinced her to join with them to allow the project to proceed.”

Earlier, on November 22, this editor had received a reader’s inquiry about Tramonto that asked, “What was CD11’s Jeff, referring to when he said that the Councilwoman was satisfied that all the neighbor’s concerns had been addressed.”

Apologies to Khau, who said he never said, “neighbor’s concerns had been addressed,” at the hearing.

Thanks to Khau who sent his transcript of the hearing. Many residents had problems with Zoom, so this editor knows they appreciate hearing exactly what Park’s planning deputy said, which is reprinted below.

“First off, I want to make it very clear that our office is fully committed to ensuring the safety of current and future Castellammare residents.

“Residents of the area have made it clear that they are concerned about how the project can be placed in an area prone to landslides.

“Our office shares those same concerns.

“We’ve been monitoring this project since April when the project was first heard by this Commission.

“At that meeting, we expressed concerns about the safety of residents and the stability of the hillside. Those concerns were distilled into three priorities: preventing obstructions in the public right-of-way, ensuring that projects are completed expeditiously, and scaling the proposed homes to reflect Castellammare’s existing development pattern.

“The developer has presented a revised project that addresses these concerns to a certain extent.

“While the project is far from perfect, it is our understanding that it will benefit the community by bringing in much needed improvements, such as new sidewalks and railings.

“Additionally, we understand that the project will install piles that will help stabilize the hillside.

“That said, we would like our City experts here today to confirm whether the development will indeed result in a net gain to safety.

“This concludes my comment. Thank you for your time.”

The homes on the cliffside of Tramonto Drive slid off the hill. This 1958 photo captured street destruction of three different streets.

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