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Residents Rail Against ABAG

Public meeting on the environmental aspects of the One Bay Area Plan turns into a shouting match.

An angry and frustrated band of North Bay residents found a target for their outrage Wednesday afternoon, describing the Association of Bay Area Governments and its future growth projections for Marin as "communism," Marxism," "socialism" and "treason" at a meeting to discuss ABAG's Plan Bay Area strategy.

The event at the Embassy Suites Hotel in San Rafael was hosted by ABAG and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to seek community input on a draft environmental impact report for Plan Bay Area, which aims to present guidelines for future growth for the Bay Area.

Those agencies got plenty of input.

The meeting turned into a very one-sided shouting match about the legitimacy of ABAG and SB 375, which was signed into law in 2008 and created the Sustainable Communities Strategy to connect job growth and housing allocations as a way to plan for the future.

"(SB 375) is an affront to democracy and it is a usurpation of local communities and the rights of their zoning and the rights of their building," Mill Valley resident Clayton Smith said. "This whole Plan Bay Area is based on a $250 million bribe by the federal government so as to buy off our local politicians and displace the rights of the actual residents of our community."

Sonoma County resident Jim Bennett added: "I didn't sell my home in Southern California near the beach to come to Sonoma County to live in a human settlement gulag. I came up here to live in the country. … The growth rate postulates are flawed. Your job growth rates are flawed. … Your claim that this plan will create jobs to sustain an equitable economy is flawed."

The One Bay Area Plan, spawned by SB 375, is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs and design safe housing near public transportation hubs. The plan allows for "streamlining" or possibly waiving California Environmental Quality Act requirements if housing projects meet certain conditions.

One thing the One Bay Area Plan has done is to unite two opposing camps. Some claimed global warming was just a government ploy invented to make people afraid and pliable. Others were concerned enough about global warming to protest any development which might endanger the environment or increase greenhouse gases.

Almost all railed against ABAG, MTC and the One Bay Area Plan Wednesday afternoon.

"Will eliminating CEQA requirements or streamlining CEQA weaken the California Environmental Quality Act?" asked Karen Nygren, who hoped the agency would back off its proposed plan.

Residents held aloft protest signs after the meeting, apparently unsatisfied with the process and unsure if their voices were really heard.

There will be three more public meetings about the draft EIR in the Bay Area. Comments may also be submitted in writing by July 11 to Ashley Nguyen, EIR project manager for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Email eircomments@mtc.ca.gov or send letters to her at 101 Eighth Street, Oakland, CA 94607.

Roger June 29, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Toni, you should run for office. You would get my vote.
Bob Ratto June 29, 2012 at 11:55 PM
I've told her that before, she would get our family's vote as well.
Tina McMillan June 30, 2012 at 02:45 AM
pamma lee It worries me that we are eliminating checks and balances when causes seem above reproach. Why should regular folks have to go through a permit process that requires EIR's but not affordable housing developers? George Lucas was prevented from building at Grady Ranch, in part, because an EIR challenged his multiple creek renovations. Lucas came up with a plan to mitigate but a small group of neighbors were going to take him to court. Now that he is offering the land to affordable housing developers and the Marin Community Foundation will the EIR's no longer affect the property? Isn't that the point of streamlining? So rather than apply the same set of rules to a project that would have brought well paid, creative jobs to our community as well as a stronger tax base we are now going to streamline the development of housing in a so called environmentally sensitive area because the "cause" is above reproach.
Tina McMillan June 30, 2012 at 02:45 AM
continued After experiencing the Subprimers crash of the economy in 2008 we should insist that no issue is above reproach, especially checks and balances that are related to the implementation of SB375. There are too many ways that the concept of C02 emissions can be exploited to fast track legislation for projects that are part of the One Bay Area Plan. If it turns out that One Bay Area is really a back door to UN Agenda 21 then we have given up our sovereignty to a group that has for years spoken out against us. The UN is no friend of America and the corruption in the UN is never openly discussed or debated. We need to be willing to look at our shortcomings if we are going to change them. Idealizing SB375, making the affordable housing debate about good versus bad, being willing to spend anything to stop climate change, is historically how people are duped by unscrupulous villains. We should be able to question legislation without being demonized or called nut bags for doing so.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr June 30, 2012 at 03:14 PM
You have, also, hit the nail right on the head. The Sacramento/ABAG social engineers are in positions of power that allows them to impose egregious procedures on others while exempting their own pet projects form any review. The "open" primaries allow them secure districts so that there will never be any two party races in the future.

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