The City of San Rafael has a dozen Boards and Commissions that are populated by almost 100 volunteers with interest in city governance. These volunteers are professionals in specific fields or people that are passionate about an issue, topic or activity. Boards and Commissions advise the City Council on things like public safety and infrastructure, City programs, and building projects. Click here to learn about all the Boards and Commissions. This Spotlight focuses on Bob Huntsberry, a longtime member of the Design Review Board. Bob has been a licensed architect since 1971, practicing for 45 years.
Describe your volunteer activity with San Rafael?
I serve as a member of the Design Review Board (DRB), an advisory body of design professionals appointed by the City Council to help review the design of new and remodeled projects in the City. The scope of the DRB authority is to review and make recommendations on design matters such as architecture, mass, bulk, site planning, site improvements, color, materials, and landscaping. Click here to learn more about the DRB.
How long you have been a volunteer for the City?
I have served as a DRB member for 23 years, including being selected as the Board chairperson four times. We have regular meetings, I visit project sites, study the plans and read the staff report before the meeting and then attend the meeting itself. On average, I usually spend 8 hours per meeting.
Why did you choose to volunteer for San Rafael?
I was not happy with the response and recommendations of the DRB on a project in San Rafael that I was working on as an architect. So, after that experience, I decided to volunteer for the Board and was appointed by the City Council and remained on the board for 23 years.
What do you enjoy most about your volunteer work?
I see the results of my professional contribution all over San Rafael in form of better designed projects!
What accomplishment are you most proud of as a volunteer?
I have made our city a more beautiful place to live. One does not often know why one likes a certain area or town, but good design does not cost more. Through my years on the DRB, there is one project where I think we had a very important impact on and I am proud to have helped in the review. That is the new 6 story parking garage at the BioMarin Campus, at the corner of Lincoln and 2nd Street. Such a large building at a prominent location, especially a parking garage, can create a significant visual impact on a city. We spent a lot of time trying to make the building look smaller than it is. With the hard work and willingness of the applicant and the DRB’s input and advice, the structure turned out to be well-articulated, interesting and appears more like a building than a garage. It is one of the best looking parking garages around!
What other volunteer activities do you do?
None currently, but previously I served as a board member of the Sun Valley Neighborhood, Scout Leader of Boy Scout Troop 101, Past President of San Rafael Racquet Club and Past President of San Rafael Jaycees.
What do you suggest to those considering volunteering with the City?
Serving on the DRB is rewarding. You feel that your input brings out the best in City projects.
Describe in one to three words your experience as a volunteer?
Paul A. Jensen, AICP, San Rafael Community Development Director shares this about Bob: There are few that have Bob’s degree of institutional knowledge, which is so appreciated by his fellow Board members, the City decision-makers and City staff. We are grateful for and have come to expect Bob’s attention to detail in reviewing projects. There are so many examples of his ‘mark’ in the community where the details have carried the design success of the development project.