Scott Ball / Rivard Report
Daniel Lazarine, a project designer and architect who has served on the City's Historic and Design Review Commission since March 2015, has been replaced as District 2 representative ahead of the commission's Oct. 10 vote on elements of the Alamo Plaza redevelopment plan.
Councilman Cruz Shaw (D2) said he replaced Lazarine, who was appointed by Shaw's predecessor Alan Warrick, with Sandi Wolff on Sept. 11. Wolff is the director of marketing and customer relations for Linebarger Attorneys at Law and a former North East Independent School District board trustee.
"We want to rotate people around – [We] wouldn't want the same commissioner year after year after year," Shaw said.
Appointed by City Council members and the mayor to serve two-year terms, the HDRC's 11 commissioners are tasked with "reviewing projects related to exterior changes to properties that are individually designated landmarks," according to the City. Council members may also appoint a new member to serve out an unexpired term.
But David Lake, founder of Lake/Flato Architects where the former commissioner works, thinks Lazarine's opposition to certain elements of the Alamo redevelopment plan had something to do with him being removed from the commission.
"I think Daniel Lazarine was removed ... because there was consideration that he would not vote in favor of the plan," said Lake, who has been an outspoken critic of some elements of the plan, including managed access to the historic plaza and associated street closures. "I think replacing him weeks before this important vote shows it ... it's completely inappropriate."
Shaw said the timing is coincidental. "This has nothing to do with the Alamo," he said. "At the time we talked about removing him .... the Alamo [plan] wasn't on an HDRC agenda."
Lazarine declined to comment for this article. Two commissioners, who asked not to be named, said they had not heard that Lazarine's departure was directly related to the upcoming Alamo vote.
HDRC and the City's Planning Commission will have a joint meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., hours after City Council will be briefed on the Alamo redevelopment plan. HDRC will vote on the general plan design and relocation of the Alamo Cenotaph. The Planning Commission will consider the City's lease agreement with the State of Texas as well as the proposed South Alamo Street closure and partial conveyance to the State. City Council will have final say on those elements.
The Alamo vote will be Wolff's first endeavor as a HDRC commissioner as she missed a previous meeting due to a family emergency, she said.
Wolff, who is married to Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff (Pct. 3) and daughter-in-law of Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, moved to San Antonio's East Side this summer and called her councilman to see how she could become more involved with the community, Shaw and Wolff said.
The Alamo had nothing to do with her conversations with Shaw about the position on the board, she said. "We did not have a conversation about how he felt about the plan or how I felt about the plan."
But Wolff said she, too, had questions for the designers about access and street closures. As the economic development council chair for the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, she's been briefed on the plan before.
"I think that is a very considerate, compassionate, and comprehensive plan," Wolff said. "The [designers] have been really completely thorough in considering every aspect of downtown and the citizens of San Antonio" including those who live downtown, work nearby, and visit Alamo Plaza.
This plan is more than 30 years in the making, she said. "Some mayors picked it up and some mayors put it down, but I think the time has come for us to seriously look at what is a huge icon of San Antonio.
"I don't think [the Alamo] should be a political issue. [But] there's a lot of heat around it because we are all very passionate about our Alamo."
Shaw, a criminal defense attorney who has served on the Zoning Commission, said he likes to keep a fair distance between commissioners and his office.
"They are appointed for a reason," Shaw said – to make unbiased decisions. "That's their right."
City Council is slated to vote on the master lease and street conveyances on Thursday, Oct. 18. The lease agreement includes closing streets, studying the historic buildings on Alamo Plaza, fencing off the historic mission’s plaza footprint, relocating the Alamo Cenotaph, and other elements of the multimillion-dollar plan.
The plan to relocate the Cenotaph 500 feet south has drawn protest from some groups, including some descendants of the Alamo defenders who died during the 1836 battle. Some members of the urban planning community, including Lake, opposed blocking off the Alamo Plaza’s original footprint to foot traffic.