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Leaders debate policy on 'big' monuments on City property
Auburn Parks, Arts and Recreation Department policy has plenty to say about City property vis-a-vis memorial trees, about commemorative plaques on benches, about stones, even about doggie poop bag dispensers ... the sorts of things people donate on behalf of a person or cause in which they believe.
But as for larger monuments, memorials, even big art pieces and what their proponents have to do to get larger structures such as those approved for placement on City property, Auburn's books say — nothing.
Members of the Municipal Services and the Planning and Community Development committees on Monday took their first steps toward creating new policies to address big stuff like that.
While the backdrop is obviously the continuing debate over whether a Joint American/South Vietnamese Memorial should be built in Veteran's Memorial Park, a stone's throw from the existing memorial, City officials say the intended scope of the proposed ordinance' is much more broad.
"It really isn't about veterans' recognition," said Daryl Faber, director of the Auburn Parks, Arts and Recreation Department. "It's about memorials in all of Auburn's parks and public spaces."
City officials are studying San Jose, Calif.'s ordinance as a model.
"We went through a number of different samples to see what other cities are doing to define their processes and their decision criteria, and we found San Jose's comprehensive enough to include what we want. ... We felt it was a good starting spot," City Attorney Dan Heid explained.
With the new rules in place, future applications for big stuff on City property would no longer go first to the Parks Board but to the Auburn City Council and to its subcommittees.
"The point is it's all public property, and there needs to be a policy that says, 'it comes to council, and council decides if it wants it, and where it wants it.' But it should be at the council's sole discretion," said Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis.
Heid added that the point is to ensure that control is defined specifically so that "something doesn't turn into a public forum where anybody and everybody gets to say what they want and compete with the City Council's decisions regarding City-owned property," such as parks or street corners.
"You obviously have to accommodate and afford those rights of free speech all citizens of this country have, but where there are some things where you don't have a policy, then somebody could come in with a proposal ... and it would make the decision less smooth, more challenging," Heid said.
One of the first things any such ordinance must define, said Councilmember Largo Wales, is exactly what constitutes "small" and what "big" stuff. Heid said at this early stage those differences have not been defined in terms of dimensions or measurements, but they will be before the proposed ordinance ever comes up for a vote before the full council.
"Thinking about the artwork that's here on City streets, I think we want to maintain control also over them being spread out, and being pleasing and appropriate. I like this more general approach," Wales said.