By Don Pelton
Attorney Michael W. Graf, representing local citizens’ group, Citizens Advocating Responsible Development (CARD), yesterday filed a petition in Nevada County Superior Court challenging the City of Grass Valley’s “actions on May 10, 2016 and May 24, 2016 approving Text Amendments of the Whispering Pines Specific Plan SP-1A Corporate Business Park designation.” Graf, in his notice to the City, added that “petitioner’s actions will include claims under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).”
The complete “Petition for Writ of Mandate” plus associated documents filed yesterday (including Graf’s notice to the City) can be read in their entirety here.
As I reported on May 11th (see “Grass Valley City Council Ignores CEQA Guidelines in Last Night’s Whispering Pines Decision“), the “Grass valley City Council last night voted 3 (Jason Fouyer, Howard Levine, Ben Aguilar) to 2 (Jan Arbuckle, Lisa Swarthout) to adopt an ordinance that includes (1) amendments to the Whispering Pines Business Park Specific Plan and (2) the adoption of a Negative Declaration as ‘the appropriate level of environmental review’ of these amendments.”
Now that the City is facing legal action over this issue, it has scheduled a closed meeting next Tuesday the 14th (prior to the regular City Council meeting) in order to discuss the matter, although there are no items concerning Whispering Pines in the regular open agenda for Tuesday. The following notice describing the reason for the closed meeting appears in the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting:
The “copy available for public inspection in Clerk’s Office” (referred to above) is most likely the same Petition and associated documents that I’ve made available here.
Attorney Michael Graf’s filing is a model of clarity, and leaves little doubt that — in approving the zoning changes — both Planning staff and the three Council members who approved the zoning changes failed to adequately consider CEQA’s requirements in the broadest sense (as they apply to potential environmental impacts) and in the narrowest details (the City’s failure to recirculate the revised Negative Declaration for further public comment).
The formal Petition for Writ of Mandate concludes with this request:
Elsewhere in the biased media, check out the lies that have been propagated about the convention fracas in Nevada:
Jon Ralston, the dean of political reporting in Nevada, has spread nothing less than a pack of lies about what went down at the state’s Democratic convention on Saturday. And the fact averse oligarchic national media has run completely riot with the provable falsehoods. No chairs were thrown at the convention Saturday. No death threats were made against the chair of the convention Roberta Lange. And Bernie Sanders delegates were not simply mad because their louder shouting was ignored.
Rachel Maddow ran a deceptive clip on MSNBC saying chairs were thrown while reportedly showing footage of chairs thrown at a wrestling production. (I cannot find the original Maddow clip with this as of yet). People on social media then insisted that networks had shown actual footage of chairs thrown at the convention. Maddow retreated only a bit by having Ralston on to say that even though he had not seen the chairs thrown, other eyewitnesses have told him the video is wrong. CNN had Debbie Wasserman-Schultz on to denounce Bernie Bros throwing chairs at the stage.
The biggest truth I’ve learned during this election season:
It’s not about the candidates. It’s never just about the candidates and the “horse race.” It’s always about something much much bigger. And most of us — because of our fascination with celebrity and the seemingly larger-than-life individuals in history — end up acting like enablers of the pernicious lie that it’s just about Bernie and Hillary (and their personal ambitions).
It’s difficult to conceive of a candidate who’s committed to the more prosaic truth that it’s really about all of us … and about the hard work of building a movement, and about our responsibility to work for the success of our principles down-ballot, and in our neighborhood.
Our power went out at 1:45 pm. We got an automated PG&E call just now that said the outage is affecting 1400+ customers. They estimate resolution by 4:45 pm.
The Grass valley City Council last night voted 3 (Jason Fouyer, Howard Levine, Ben Aguilar) to 2 (Jan Arbuckle, Lisa Swarthout) to adopt an ordinance that includes (1) amendments to the Whispering Pines Business Park Specific Plan and (2) the adoption of a Negative Declaration as “the appropriate level of environmental review” of these amendments.
Who’s behind this application? And what does it mean?
The proposal, submitted by applicant David Watkinson, CEO of Emgold Mining Corporation, a Canadian mining company, was first discussed in the Planning Commission meeting of March 15th. The minutes from that meeting include this description:
“Whispering Pines Specific Plan Text Amendments (15PLN-31) of the SP-1A Corporate Business Park. The text amendments will modify the allowable uses in the SP-1A Corporate Business Park Zone to allow Manufacturing/Processing and Manufacturing — Small Shop uses, including food products, drugs and cosmetics, chemical laboratories, dry cleaning, incubator units and metal fabrication uses. The text amendments will apply to the entire SP-1A properties. No specific development is proposed at this time. Environmental Determination: Negative Declaration.”
Environmental law attorney Marsha Burch spoke during the meeting on behalf of Daniel and Linda Ketcham, who live next to Whispering Pines. In a letter she sent to the Council prior to the meeting, Burch said
“It is unclear from the record documents why the City is processing a text amendment to the Specific Plan through a private application where no development project is being proposed. While the City may understandably wish to avoid the costs associated with extensive environmental review, the ND [Negative Declaration] does not fulfill the City’s obligations under CEQA. It is our view that an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) is required for the Project.”
The complete text of her letter is here.
And here’s a short video of her statement to the council last night.
Here’s Watkinson speaking for himself about his concern for the marketability of his property, followed by a short comment from Linda Ketchum, reminding him that he should have been aware of the restrictions on his property at the time he purchased it.
By Don Pelton
The Wolf Creek Community Alliance (full disclosure: I’m on the board) received this today from Trisha Tillotson, Senior Civil Engineer/Deputy Director of Public Works, City of Grass Valley.
If you’ve been following the DNC broken firewall scandal(*) of yesterday with an open mind, here’s a question that should interest you: Why didn’t the DNC fix the software problem when it was first reported to them by the Sanders campaign itself back in October? Is this just a case of incompetence, or did someone have something to gain by keeping the firewall weak? (Remember: the Sanders campaign suspected that their own private data had been accessed at that time).
And here’s a related question: If the Sanders campaign intended to make illicit use of this broken firewall, why did it come forth itself and report the problem again yesterday? Or for that matter in October in the first place? If there’s some sort of malfeasance in this case, where is it likely to reside? And finally, has the real scandal yet been fully revealed?
Perhaps all these questions have completely banal answers, but in our political house of mirrors it’s often difficult to recognize the real Occam and his razor.
* Note: The “scandal” erupted yesterday, whereas the real problem — the firewall bug and the DNC’s failure to fix it — goes back months, if not years.
Weirdly true-to-life in its depiction of a self-absorbed Vader … hilarious! And of course the contrast between the expected Darth Vader basso voice and Trump’s unmistakable weeny voice adds to the hilarity.
Keep It California: “Please Come to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors Meeting on May 12th at 12:30 PM”
I hear from Margaret Joehnck (with Keep It California Nevada County) that she and Kevin Hendricks, who headed up the successful Keep It California campaign to defeat the State of Jefferson ballot initiative in Del Norte County, will be interviewed by Lee Oborne on his show (Random Rants) on KVMR at 12 noon tomorrow (Wednesday, May 6th).
For more information, see the Keep It California website.