For the third time since last May, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Feb. 10 submitted the name of gay businessman and real estate developer David Franco to the D.C. Council for confirmation for a seat on the city’s Zoning Commission.
Similar to the first two submissions, most Council observers expect Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) to continue to block the nomination from proceeding to a hearing and vote by the full Council.
Mendelson told the Washington Blade last September he’s concerned that Franco’s role as principal owner of the real estate development firm Level 2 Development raises the perception that he would have a pro-development bias rather than a neutral stance on development-related issues before the commission.
Franco, who also owns the D.C. retail clothing store Universal Gear, has said he would recuse himself from any zoning matter that involves Level 2 Development. He has also said his knowledge and experience in the development business would enable him to provide an important perspective for the commission in a fair and impartial way.
But Mendelson has said Franco’s appointment would create a “troubling dynamic” on the Zoning Commission, which, among other things, regulates the size and density of buildings and development projects.
In her previous two submissions of Franco’s nomination, Bowser withdrew the nomination one day before a 90-day deadline set by D.C. law for Council approval of nominations for boards and commissions, according to Mendelson aide Evan Cash. Under that law, a nomination automatically is deemed to be “disapproved” if the Council doesn’t act on it within the 90-day period.
In her Feb. 10 submission letter, Bowser told Mendelson “a majority of the Council supports a hearing to allow Mr. Franco to present his qualifications.”
Similar to the two previous submissions, Franco’s nomination was sent to the Council’s Committee of the Whole, which Mendelson chairs. Cash, the committee’s staff director, told the Blade on Wednesday that no hearing has been scheduled for the Franco nomination and he is unaware of plans by Mendelson to schedule a hearing.
In a Feb. 16 memorandum sent to all Council members, Council Secretary Nyasha Smith said Franco’s nomination would be declared “disapproved on Thursday, May 26, 2016 without Council approval.”
“I am honored that Mayor Bowser continues to believe I should serve on the Zoning Commission and I welcome an opportunity to address my qualifications at a hearing, if and when it is scheduled,” Franco said in a statement on Wednesday.