Regarding the May Planning Commission Meeting
( May 15, 2007)
Radio broadcaster Paul Harvey likes to say, "And now you know...the rest of the story." Most of us don't even know the rest of the story about what happens to people dealing with our local government (let alone at State and National levels). Only by knowing what goes on can we keep it from being corrupted by special interests. The DeMartini Wolf Creek parking lot discussion is a perfect example. Here's what happened during the Grass Valley Planning Commission meeting in May. You didn't read much about it in the newspaper, because the Mr. Enos' rent a mob wasn't there stirring up resentment against Wolf Creek property owners. It was obvious that there was another plan in the works. We were there because Mr. Enos appealed the CEQA process during the January meeting. The agenda for May 15, 2007 states (as always) that "Agenda items will not be heard unless the applicant, or an authorized representative is present to answer any questions the Planning Commission may have concerning the project." Because of this one individual asks, "Since Steve Enos did not appear, how could the commission (by their own rules) discuss the appealed CEQA issues? The rest of the CEQA issues were resolved at the original Planning Commission meeting. Normally, if the applicant or appellant (Steve Enos) did not appear, that would have ended the matter....leaving only the Wolf Creek trail issue to discuss."
The City didn't follow it's own procedure processing DeMartini's application, since the application was approved subject to the Wolf Creek trail easement condition on January 9, 2007. DeMartini then appealed the trail condition, because it appeared to be a form of extortion rather than legitimate land use planning, similar to the Dolan versus the City of Tigard, Oregon Supreme Court case in 1994. Was the motion to deny the application in error? The Planning Commission made the approval of DeMartini's little parking lot dependent upon whether or not DeMartini donates part of his land to the city for a trail.
Again, Mr. DeMartini found it necessary to have an attorney present during the Planning Commission meeting. The Engineer was surprised the other appellant Mr. Enos (who necessitated another development review) wasn't there. The disgusting part is what it cost the property owner to wait all night, because the Commission didn't follow it's rules.
There were four Commissioners present. Eleanor Kenitzer, Kateri Harrison, Rey Johnson and Ralph Silberstein. David Emanuel was absent, which made it more difficult for a consensus. Commissioner Johnson recused himself on some of the items to be reviewed and voted on, because of a conflict of interest. I must commend him for his honesty. The first item on the agenda was the application for the Hospitality House Welcome Center that took 1 1/2 hours. DeMartini's Development Review Application for a small parking lot to display small trailer homes was item number 3 on the agenda.
This fenced lot on Railroad Avenue has been used to park equipment for many years. Wolf Creek is located below the fence line at the left.
This is one of the small trailer homes Tim wishes to display on the parking lot.
Wolf Creek below the parking lot. Tim showed this photo of the City's Idaho Maryland Road drain into the creek, compared to what he's expected to do with drainage from his parking lot.
After the initial review and comment period, Attorney Jim Curtis gave an excellent talk about the U.S. Constitutions Fifth Amendment's just compensation requirement on the basis of facile findings and conclusory assessments of planned development. The "rough proportionality" standard requires cities to make an individualized determination that the required dedication is related both in nature and extent to the impact of the proposed development. He said that Grass Valley had not met that standard. That those present should consider DeMartini's investment like they would consider their own home, if the City wanted to take their front yard for some proposed project. I'm not going to go into details. However, the Supreme Court's landmark case of Dolan vs the City of Tigard was published in the Union, and taxpayers pay the City Attorney to advise the Commission. Whether they listen to him is another story.
As the evening wore on, the engineers and specialist findings were heard. There was nothing unlawful about the DeMartini development except the antics of two Commissioners. In fact, one member of the audience went to the podium and suggested that Commissioner Ralph Silberstein should have recused himself because he's an active member of the Wolf Creek trail advocates. (It's an expensive idea that will cost taxpayers millions.) Both he and Commissioner Kateri Harrison were actively pulling at straws, trying to find anything they could to delay a decision. Commissioner Harrison even told us how educated she was. It had nothing to do with what was being discussed. We expected her to come up with some endangered grasshopper, or bed bug to delay a decision. She even disagreed with State agencies that said their findings about the site were okay. Finally, Commissioner Johnson gave a wonderful dissertation about the function of the Planning Commission. It's there to make sure all the existing laws are complied with. He felt that common sense dictated that they were. His words about "common sense" echoed those of Commissioner Emanuel during the January meeting. The laws of the Constitution reflect common sense. Lack of common sense means that one has poor judgment and should not be in a position to make important decisions that affect others. The bottom line is that the DeMartini parking lot will be continued to the next City Council meeting. Commissioner Eleanor Kenitzer commented that Mr. DeMartini would be compensated for his property. What if he and the other businesses along Wolf Creek don't want to give up their property, or have it made vulnerable to vandalism?
The DeMartini review ended around 11:pm. The meeting was still going when we left. I feel sorry for those who sincerely put in their time expecting an honest review, and wind up facing some Commissioners who don't do their homework, and refuse to accept what their paid professionals say in order to further special interests. Special interests promoting costly ideas that a few people profit from... at the expense of the taxpayers, who don't even get to vote on whether or not they need or want it. Meanwhile there isn't enough money to meet government needs. As the minister for the Hospitality Welcome Center pointed out....we have a growing problem with homeless people (with addictions) that should be addressed.
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