Op-Ed: Ralph Silberstein, “Retain the Good Supervisor” (Terry Lamphier)

By Ralph Silberstein

Terry Lamphier is a polite, open-minded, hard working Supervisor and should be re-elected. He studies the issues and has the interests of the community at heart.

Dan Miller, who is running against Terry for District 3, is not qualified to be on the board. He does not seem to understand the issues and rudely condemns those who disagree with him.

One example: In spring 2011 the Nevada County Airport Land Use Commission was fulfilling its mandate to update the Grass Valley Airport Land Use Plan and had identified a conflict with the proposed Loma Rica housing project and Airport Safety Zones. Proposed units in Loma Rica’s McBoyle Lake area were in a potential hazardous air traffic zone. The City of Grass Valley clearly knew this before approving Loma Rica in May 2011, and certainly City Councilman Miller, who was also on the Airport Commission, should have known it. The conflict was even pointed out in the final Loma Rica Environmental Impact Report.

The approved Loma Rica project left 243 units within the new Safety Zones.

Miller subsequently sat through the Airport Commission’s final review of the draft Airport Land Use Plan on July 20, 2011. During the CEQA review period, which ended August 8, no actions or comments were submitted by Miller or City to the Commission about the Loma Rica problem, although the City did submit written comments on other aspects of plan.

When someone finally woke up to the problem, Miller supported the effort to delay the Airport Commission’s final vote. In his dual role as Airport Commissioner and City Councilman, he did not seem to understand that the Airport Commission first and foremost has a responsibility to address safety concerns. And instead of correctly representing the Commission’s responsibilities to the City Council, he belittled the commission’s actions, claiming “no one on the [Airport] Commission understands planning or land use…” [GV City Council, 9/13/11, video, 01:47]. The Airport Commission included County Supervisors Nate Beason and Ed Scofield, among others.

Sept 21, 2011, the Airport Commission approved the Safety Zones despite strong pressures from developers and City representatives. Miller, now occupying his seat on the Airport Commission, cast the only NO vote.

A subsequent waste of time and public resources ensued in which the City joined the developers in an embarrassing lawsuit against the Airport Commission.

A year later, Miller’s reply to LAFCO’s request that the lawsuit go away: “…they stuck their nose into something they shouldn’t have…” [GV City Council, 9/11/12, video, 00:55]. LAFCO is the state mandated agency that oversees regional planning decisions.

In the end, the Airport Commission stood by its approved Airport Plan, so the City Council voted to override the Safety Zones for the benefit of the Loma Rica project and other developers. When a local jurisdiction decides to overrule airport Safety Zones, the proposal must be submitted to the CalTrans Division of Aeronautics for review. The CalTrans review came back as harshly critical of the City’s proposal to override and pointed to numerous inconsistencies and safety conflicts.

Miller’s response to the CalTrans review consisted mainly of ridiculing the CalTrans representative for ‘not setting the blocks when he parked the airplane’ following an onsite evaluation.

Throughout the entire process, Miller seemingly failed to grasp the idea that, for the Airport Commission, public safety should come before the profits of some developers. After the City concluded their actions, Miller said “And Keoni [developer Keoni Allen] is correct in that … we should have had more support and more understanding by the different agencies in our area that oversee these, but instead we get sticks being stuck in our spokes that slow us down…” [Grass Valley City Council, video, 9/11/2012, video, 01:07]

Miller’s final rant on the debacle is an ironic testimony to his own failings: “And to have this type of opposition and this type of unnecessary interference, it wears on me, ….to get this close and have to go through this and where do we end up and after all this is said and done the developer has to spend money, we waste time, and we are right where we really were when this all started. Go figure.” [Ibid]

This reminds me of the famous Pogo quote: “We have met the enemy, and he is us”.

I’ll vote for Terry Lamphier.

Ralph Silberstein is a former Grass Valley Planning Commissioner.

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