The debate on height in Auburn’s downtown has been raging for the past 12 years. The ordinance of building height was changed in 2007, 2010 and 2015. Each time, citizens have asked their city council to “pay attention to scale.”  

The first discussion on height was in 2006. That year, Mayor Bill Ham appointed a task force with former Mayor Jan Dempsey, the chair. One member of the task force, Ron Anders, sits on the council today. Other members included Lolly Steiner, Tom Tillman, Warren McCord, Bob Dumas and Brenda Rawls. In her report to the City Council on Feb. 20, 2007, Mayor Dempsey stated, “the overriding concern of the public hearing attendees was scale of buildings.” 

In the March 6, 2007 council meeting, Councilperson Gene Dulaney stated, “One of the interesting things to me is at one of the first public hearings that the task force had, Mayor Dempsey asked the question and asked for feedback about what made downtown Auburn special. And it was interesting to me the feedback she got from that. It wasn’t the brick and mortar that’s downtown, but it was the 'sense of place.' "

Councilperson Sheila Eckman then said, “A lot of that sense of place relates to scale. What they [task force] came up with is really higher than what a lot of people wanted that were there.” 

Last month, the Downtown Merchants Association posted a survey on their Facebook page and requested that all share their thoughts with “our group.” Currently, the DMA will not share the results to the public. Will the DMA share the results (even the negative comments) as to parking, height, and disconnect before the height ordinance vote by the council? 

Not much has changed in 12 years. 

Dana Camp

Auburn resident

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