Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Three Strikes Mr. Perkins

Fight Tyranny Day
July 4, 230 Yrs Later

An Open Letter to San Ramon's Councilman Scott Perkins,

I'm responding to your letter in Sunday's, June 18, Tri-Valley Herald, Mr. Perkins, where you attacked a golf course rezoning critic's anonymity. There can be many valid reasons for remaining anonymous. You used the Declaration of Independence as your standard of courage. The irony is that its most influential signer was renown for his many pen names, which he used to great effect. That signer, of course, was the great tyranny fighter Benjamin Franklin, a.k.a. Silence Dogood amongst many other names.

Mr. Perkins, you're trying to change the subject on a very important matter by calling us names and besmirching our characters. The issue is still the City's blind use of legalized stealing and its power to do it. I speak of Eminent Domain and Rezoning without Representation. It's about us "named citizens" losing businesses that we've owned for decades. It's about hundreds of us "named citizens", showing our faces at public hearings, giving our formal appeals, and then being totally ignored on the issue of the City's furtive golf courses rezonings. It's about the City's "bait and switch" zoning tactics. It's about a wrongheaded and misapplied planning rationalization called "intensification" that intends to stuff more people inside the City's self-imposed Urban Growth Boundary while, ironically, reducing open space exactly where needed most, that is, where "named citizens" live.

Intensification as it's now being applied in San Ramon will surely make immense profits for lurking developers and more tax dollars for City Hall; conversely, it will also erode quality-of-life in San Ramon as traffic congestion, overcrowding in schools, air pollution, and crime rates soar. Overcrowding by any other name is still overcrowding!

Thus, as you know, Mr. Perkins, it's not really about "courage". Your letter is about "spinning" the truth and changing the subject. You want to shift the debate away from an out-of-control City Council, City Finance Committee, and Redevelopment Agency whose members are conspicuously all the very same few people. You don't want it to be about the City's recent appointment to the powerful Planning Commission of an outspoken advocate of "in-filling" who, from his writings, will rabidly vote for all future Eminent Domain condemnations and open space rezonings.

So Mr. Perkins, you've gotten our attention, no matter what our names and faces. You can call me Joe or Jane Citizen, if you want. Whatever you call me, I'm still asking myself, "What's really behind all this?" The answer, I've painstakingly discovered as I dig deeper (read the in-depth facts we've found on, is quite alarming.

Take rezoning of San Ramon Golf Course (SRGC), for example. It's been zoned and protected as a Park for forty-four years. At this moment, it's in the final throes of being rezoned to Commercial-Recreation (CR), a very broad and furtively-developed zoning designation.

Over the past six months, my SRGC neighbors have been asking simple questions of City Officials, first at Planning Commission hearings and then at City Council hearings: "Who officially did the rezoning?", "Why?", and "How?". Unfortunately, we've not received any straight answers. Instead, the City Council has used its "Bully Pulpit" to harangue us citizens for being paranoid ...or fear mongers ...or rabble rousers ...or (shudder) cowards. They've fed us irrelevant pabulum and mislead us with (using the same words you used against us, Mr. Perkins) "half-truths, distortions, innuendos, and lies". Here's some of the misinformation that we residents have endured, not just once, but as recurring themes:

Strike one! "Rezoning is mandated by Calif Law". WRONG! City Officials say "the City's Zoning Ordinance and General Plan must be consistent with each other, thus, the rezoning. It's Calif Law." This has not been true since City Officials made San Ramon a Charter City, ironically, to avoid California Law, in 1997.

Strike two! "Golf Course Acreage counts against Parkland Quotas". WRONG AGAIN! The City says, "Future developments won't provide land for new parks if golf courses remain parks because their acreage overwhelms the City's Parkland Quotas." Not true. The City's general plan says golf courses will not count toward parkland quotas.

Strike three! "Parks need to be City owned". WRONG FOR A THIRD TIME! The City's general plan defines a park as either "public or private".

That's THREE STRIKES, Mr. Perkins!

On this July 4th "Fight Tyranny Day"
YOU! deserve to be VOTED OUT!

There is more bad news for those of us who would like to preserve San Ramon's open spaces for residents and not outside developers. The owner of San Ramon Golf Course is closely tied to a major land developer in Hawaii. The company developed Wailea, Maui, and also develops in California. The reader should "google" and s/he will find the SRGC owner to be a client of one of the largest land-use law firms in Hawaii. Thus, once the City's rezoning is a fait accompli, there's probably legally no way to stop them from redeveloping SRGC to its "highest and best use". CR zoning permits, amongst many other "best uses", halfway houses for felons and wrecking yards!

The writing's on the wall, Mr. Perkins, and it's not about courage. It's about legalized greed and city tyranny. The City should stop the rezoning now! The City Council has until July 25th to change its mind on the CR rezoning.

Just in case it doesn't, the people have filed a ballot initiative to take back zoning of the golf courses for themselves. The measure should qualify for the November 2007 election when a majority of Council members, including you Mr. Perkins, will come up for re-election.

It's time to get fresh faces and ideas on the City Council. All current members have been playing musical chairs at City Hall for at least a decade. They've forgotten how to talk and deal straight with us, San Ramon's citizens. It's past time for us to find out what's really happening. We need at least one straight-shooter at City Hall.

Jane Citizen
Member of the STOP! Alliance