Tom Butt for Richmond City Council The Tom Butt E-Forum About Tom Butt Platform Endorsements of Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt Accomplishments Contribute to Tom Butt for Richmond City Council Contact Tom Butt Tom Butt Archives
E-Mail Forum
Design Review Board Dispute Stops Richmond Development Dead in It's Tracks

A move by the City Council majority, three of whom are running for re-election this year, to do away with the Design Review Board (DRB) and a refusal to accept nominations of new members by the mayor has apparently provided a de facto moratorium on development applications in Richmond for at least this summer. Due to the absence of one Design Review Board member, last weeks’ regular (June) DRB was cancelled due to lack of a quorum. The DRB is supposed to consist of seven members but has only four, and a quorum requires all four members to be present. Another DRB member will be unable to attend the July meeting, so it will also be cancelled due to a lack of a quorum.


Back in March of this year, I warned about this potential problem, but it fell on deaf ears: “If even one member is sick or out of town, no meeting can take place, and applicants will be delayed for at least a month. How can anyone justify this situation? Click here for the city attorney’s legal opinion.” (See Planning Commission/Design Review Board Merger Vote Expected March 18, 2008, March 3, 2008)


Membership. The DRB shall consist of seven (7) persons who live or work in the City of Richmond. At least five (5) of the members shall be persons who reside in the City of Richmond. Membership of the board shall consist of 1 architect, 2 lay persons, 1 person from the business community, 1 landscape architect or expert in a wide range of design/construction fields, the remainder (2 positions) shall be persons who are qualified to analyze and interpret architectural and design plans.( 15.04.930.070 Design Review Board.)

A Design Review Board member states: “For many months, DRB members have urged the City Council to pass legislation adjusting the DRB's quorum to 3 members, just as they did for the Planning Commission last year.”


It appears the City Council majority aims to see the DRB whither away as just desserts for an organization they have erroneously vilified for holding up important development projects. It is ironic that the DRB’s withering away has done just the opposite – it has stopped all development – large and small -- in its tracks.


For more on the history of the move to dissolve the Design Review Board, see:



As a stop gap measure, I have placed an agenda item on the next City Council agenda to establish a Design Review Board quorum at three members so that review of projects can continue in Richmond.


What can you do about this? Press “Reply to All,” and send a message to City Council members to (1) pass emergency legislation to establish a DRB quorum of three members, (2) Support the appointment of additional DRB members by the mayor, and (3) leave the DRB intact as an effective means of insuring quality development in Richmond’s neighborhoods.