Wednesday, March 12, 2008

County's draft general plan deserves scrutiny

To: The Reporter Editor:
submitted by Nicole Byrd, Fairfield.

After reading recent letters regarding the Solano County general plan update process, we felt that a few other points should be made about what occurred with the process during 2007.

First, let's not forget that the original Citizen's Advisory Committee, a well-balanced committee consisting of four people appointed by each supervisor, was disbanded shortly after Supervisor Jim Spering took office in 2007.

The supervisors claimed that the committee wasn't getting enough done; however, the original committee - as did the second committee - followed agendas designed by consultants, with some input from an agenda subcommittee.

Additionally, the original committee was developing a vision plan and attending a number of field trips to various county locations to be better informed when making decisions.

The criticism that the original committee was not doing enough was a "smoke screen" by those who wanted an excuse to remake the committee.

The board, chaired by Supervisor Mike Reagan, directed Supervisors Spering and John Silva as an "ad hoc subcommittee" to review the structure of the Citizens Advisory Committee.

Supervisors Spering and Silva met in closed session, without public input or public viewing, and hand-picked the vast majority of the new members for the second committee. Each supervisor was allowed only one appointment in addition to those selected by the subcommittee. This was a move to change the original, well-balanced committee and replace it with a more development-oriented group.
The timeline is another point of contention.

The committee was forced to make important decisions, often with insufficient data, just to meet the timeline. In fact, the timeline was clearly more important than careful study of the issues. Only Supervisor Barbara Kondylis has shown the wisdom to question this overly hasty process.

As members of both the original and second citizens advisory committees, we wanted the public to hear more of the story.

A new Solano County general plan is a critically important blueprint for how and where Solano will develop during the next 20 to 30 years. The new plan is quite different than the original plan and it deserves a thorough public airing and discussion.

We urge the county, in addition to the circulation of the general plan's Draft Environmental Impact Report for review and comments, to thoroughly and publicly present the draft general plan to solicit input from throughout the county and consider the concerns and comments expressed.

Nicole Byrd, Fairfield.
This letter also was signed by Patrica Gatz of Vallejo, Eva Laevastu of Green Valley and Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, all of whom, like Ms. Byrd, served on both the original 20-member and the second 16-member Citizens Advisory Committee; as well as original committee members Marti Brown of Vallejo, Jeanne McCormack of Rio Vista and Ian Anderson of Birds Landing.

No comments: