Letters to the Editor
Planners’ decision defeats democracy
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The Community Voice:
There was a major defeat for democracy in Rohnert Park at the Planning Commission hearing on Aug. 14.
1. A published article that morning announced that one Planning Commissioner (Susan Adams) and one City Councilmember (Mayor Joe Callinan) had already made up their minds to support Walmart. So what was the point of a public hearing? (In fact one could ask the mayor why there should even be a planning commission vote, since he didn’t even wait to hear what the commissioners said.) Commissioner Adams was requested to recuse herself due to bias that would irredeemably taint the proceedings; she not only declined but actually made the motions to act.
2. Planning commission chair Gerard Giudice arbitrarily, capriciously, indefensibly and without explanation cut down speaking times from the traditional 3 minutes to 2, and refused to allow speakers to trade times as is also traditional. When I tried to discuss these actions with him at a break, he threatened to have the police remove me from the building. So much for our First Amendment right to “petition for redress of grievances”.
3. The speakers were 25 to 10 against Walmart (and 8 of the 10 pro-Walmart speakers were Walmart employees whose testimony was entirely anecdotal), but the planning commission voted for the Walmart expansion anyway.
4. No regard was given to a host of valid objections, including inconsistency with the city’s General Plan, and the opening of a new Walmart neighborhood grocery in Mountain Shadows, among many others.
Moreover, the article had some astonishing statements by Adams and Callinan. Adams charged out-of-city groups with inconsistency in attacking Rohnert Park but not other nearby cities, which is totally contrary to reality. And Callinan evidently doesn’t understand Walmart’s business model, which he applauded and suggested should be adopted by governments. Walmart’s low prices are achieved by unloading a lot of costs of doing business to taxpayers. They pay their employees such low wages that many qualify for government-supported programs such as food stamps, WIC, TANF, child care, health insurance and the earned-income tax credit. How exactly would that work if government tried it? Would it subsidize itself?
Some commissioners have allowed themselves to be put into a little glass box where the only issue is whether every "i" has been dotted and every "t" crossed on the EIR. They don't see the bigger picture: that the proper role of the planning commission is to determine what is best for the city.
Commissioner Adams said, “We have a municipal code. We don’t have a choice but to follow that.” Wrong: She should have said "we have a general plan. We don’t have a choice but to follow that." And vote no.
Chair Giudice said, “Legally, I think Walmart has a right to expand.” Wrong again: Walmart has no unfettered right to expand – if it did, no permit would be required. Some planning commissioners are totally out-to-lunch about the function of the petitioning process. If the commission could never say no, there would be no need for it.
Only Commissioner Susan Haydon didn't fall for the rhetoric of others, which suggested that the permitting process is just a pro-forma series of useless hoops to make businesses jump through. There are many things one (citizen or business) can do without a permit. But the whole point of a permit is that it might be necessary from time to time to say "No, your proposal is not good for civil society as a whole." I regret that there are not more voices of sanity like Commissioner Haydon running our city government.
Faith in human nature renewed
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The Community Voice:
I left my purse on top of my car. Barry Roberts, of Moore Heating & Air Conditioning, returned it to my home. It was a big relief. It also renewed my faith in human nature. He is honest.
GSMOL appreciates Snyder’s column
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The Community Voice:
We (Golden State Manufactured Homeowners League) appreciated Jud Snyder’s column on affordable housing (Aug. 22, 2014) in Rohnert Park. We also know Snyder is fairly familiar with the Manufactured Home “Affordable Housing Stock” in RP but believe you are unaware of the true total story.
We who reside in manufactured/mobile homes see ourselves as the last bastion of true affordable housing. We believe Burbank projects are a total smokescreen by the builders to make city fathers seem they are contributing to affordable housing (maybe four out of 20 units) and the politicians are buying it. The true story is that only a small portion of these projects actually accommodate affordable housing spaces.
As I understand, a Burbank one-bedroom apartment goes for $1,500…and that is affordable housing? A two-three bedroom manufactured home average base space rents for $400-$600 a month and is not subsidized by our government. We also understand there is not a single city in California that meets its federal assisted quota of affordable housing stock.
If you want the true story on affordable housing, I suggest you attend our monthly Presidents luncheons, which are always held on the fourth Friday of each month (except November and December because of the holidays). We meet at noon at the Boulevard Café, 1096 Petaluma Blvd. N., directly across from the Petaluma Police Dept.
We always have special guest speakers, such as the Sonoma County district attorney, assemblypersons, state senators, HCD representatives or anyone and everyone connected with the manufactured home industry. On Sept. 26, we will have the secretary for the State Senate Select Committee on Mobile Homes, Stephanie Reed, as our guest speaker.
Our Presidents luncheons started some 18 years ago when I realized that we had five parks in Rohnert Park, and we all lived under the city ordinance. I also knew we should all be talking with each other for our own protection, thus a Kaffee Klatch began and has since developed into our lifestyle.
We are the only such meeting of its kind in California and a model for GSMOL throughout the state. Our bible is the Mobile Home Residency Laws, of which more than 100 Civil Code laws are on the books because of GSMOL efforts.
GSMOL has the only manufactured homeowner lobbyist in Sacramento. Other organizations, such as the Sonoma County Mobile Home Owners Association and Santa Rosa Homeowners Association are united in supporting the MRL in their prospective areas and we all meet at these Presidents luncheons.
Cotati Lions sends thanks to patrons
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The Community Voice:
The Cotati Lions Club would like to thank all that came out and had breakfast with us (Aug. 16-17) for the Accordion Festival Breakfast. Your continued support has helped us have one of our most successful community service fundraisers in many years. Stay tuned for more events from the Cotati Lions Club, and if you would like to contact us, please email cotatilionsclub@gmail.com.