Jul112016

Cluster Housing-Update

At last take, Yuba County's so-called "Cluster" Housing Project was put 'on hold," according to an excellent article by Elden Fowler in the June 1 Territorial Dispatch.

 

(In my opinion, Cluster Housing is just a sneaky attempt by the county to allow higher density subdivisions throughout the Yuba upper foothills, outside Community Boundaries, just to bankroll favored people and organizations.)

 

Well, thanks to John Vacek, Yuba County's Chief County counsel, the project is no longer "on hold". It is dead in the water. The county's awkward and illegal attempt to revise Development Code Chapter 11.21 is now rescinded, according to Mr. Vacek's announcement at the regular Planning Commission meeting of June 15.

 

The thing that turned the tide was a 20-page letter from a San Francisco law firm, Shute, Mihaly, and Weinberger, sent to the county on May 16. This firm has special expertise in land-use matters, and has been very helpful to Yuba County in working on problem project, such as Yuba Highlands and Magnolia Ranch.

 

On reading the letter from the lawyers, Mr. Vacek abruptly put a hold on the project, aborting any action by the Planning Commission, and announcing "study" of the letter. Then, within 2-3 weeks, the study was over and the project was off.

 

In their letter the lawyers pointed out a series of problems with Yuba County's own kindergarten version of a clustering plan:

 

"The project is flatly inconsistent with General Plan policies limiting density and prohibiting clustering outside Rural Community Boundaries."

 

And "scant analysis violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQUA)." There are ''numerous inadequacies and omissions" e.g. and little consideration of "loss of agricultural land ,increased wildfire risk, and ground water supply." And this is just a small sample.

 

The 20-page letter is a real eye-opener. It certainly should be read by all hill folks who appreciate what they've got. Never fear, the legalese is not so bad. The average person will understand most of it.

The obvious question : How did the county get into this mess? Who did it? It looked like this fiasco was going to be voted in by the supervisors with very little feedback and no vote by the public. It was a close call.

 

Nick Spaulding, 20-year member of the Fellowship of Friends (FOF), carried the ball for the most part, with letters to the local papers, and with free run of the Government Center to con people with his brand of eloquent (fishy) rhetoric.

 

Fifth District supervisor, Randy Fletcher played his part in pleasing benefactors (but not the public). At the Board of Supervisors meeting of July 21, 2015, Fletcher put his blessing on the cluster idea and let the staff know he wanted it done his way and soon and also thanked the FOF North Yuba Grown for their help in furthering the cluster concept. Fellowshippers Spaulding and Charles Sharpe made separate comments for the cause . All of this pretty much made for a FOF-oriented kick-off cluster meeting.

 

And all of this makes for a very unpopular program in the upper foothills . An informal mail survey a couple of months ago showed 97% of 107 local respondent residents in Dobbins-Oregon House

and Brownsville area are against cluster development.

 

To counter the 104 local residents, Spaulding recruited some 3-4 "stakeholders:" 1. The Cattlemen's Association, 2. The Pacific Legal Foundation, and 3. Soper-Wheeler Timber Company. Apparently, the 3-4 stakeholders are supposed to carry more weight than 97% of the residents.

 

And yet, the word is out . The supervisors intend to bring this issue back to the Board, before too long, presumably to revive it.

 

It should be up to the PEOPLE !.... And not this Board.

 

It is up to the people to beware and watch out. Pay attention.

 

Those guys downtown in the fancy building may not have your best interests at heart.

You have the numbers. Let's see the activity.

 

John Mistler, owner of the Territorial Dispatch, has agreed to run the 20-page letter by the lawyers in the paper's web site eterritorial.com , as a public service Thanks John.

 

Hal Stocker

Challenge, Ca.

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