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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.

Tina McMillan June 28, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Thank you to the people that had the courage to stand up at these meetings and speak out for our right to retain control over private property. There is a vast difference between planning and regulation (which we already have in each city and county) and the state shifting control of these matters based on one piece of legislation (SB375). The point of the EIR meeting was to get approval to waive environmental impact reports on developments that become part of the sustainable communities strategy so that they can be fast tracked and supersized. No development should escape EIR. No development should be considered above local planning regulations. If the past serves as a reminder, it has taught us to take time and think through our actions before making decisions that will affect future generations. Greenhouse gases are increased when you create new developments encased in concrete and stone. People need land around them. Living in a rural/suburban environment gives us all a bit of green to sustain our spirits and relearn appreciation of the land. In Novato people have chickens, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, horses and space. This isn't an accident, it is a choice. Why should poor people be forced to live in communities that are infill along freeways and transportation corridors? Are they less deserving of the land? Isn't it the height of hypocrisy to segregate based on the notion that we will pollute less if we put our poor in mini inner cities?
Rick Fraites June 28, 2012 at 04:40 PM
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) has served the people of California well. I can't imagine what our state, county and town would look like if it were not for the required environmental protections found in CEQA. One thing is certain; ABAG/MTC/One Bay Area representatives and California legislators must NOT weaken the protections to our communities that CEQA provides. Any elected official who would support changing or weakening CEQA protections should not be re-elected.
JAN June 28, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Point is that this is not civil discourse and attacking a concept as treasonous, Marxist or communist does nothing to further the discussion. No matter what political party or pursuasion every speaker deserves to heard and judged on the merits of their position. I think Patch often generates more heat than light.
Tina McMillan June 28, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Jan When people feel passionately about an issue they are going to get increasingly emotional if they are not being heard and acknowledged. I don't know if you followed the early Patch articles about the One Bay Area meetings but they weren't intended for feedback. They were used to promote an agenda not debate it. That is the reason why people feel disenfranchised. Though some folks may get heated, even on Patch, I would rather have a spirited debate than none at all. Remember, words like the ones that you spoke out against, have meaning that does apply to this issue. I didn't realize what they meant until I looked them up. They are predominantly about property rights which is the core issue in this debate.
Tina McMillan June 28, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Rick Up until now the weight of SB375 has been contained by local laws and planning requirements. If they succeed in overturning CEQA we are in dire straits. SMART is doing the same thing by bypassing local design review. If you look at all the regional agencies the ones that are posing the greatest risk (MTC, ABAG) have the fewest checks and balances. Not enough people are voting in local elections to make the needed difference. You're right, without local planning we risk even greater damage to the environment.
SHROYER FOR SUPERVISOR 2014 June 28, 2012 at 05:41 PM
I find it inappropriate that the Patch has my photo next to the title "...One Bay Area Plan turns into a shouting match." I want to make it VERY clear, I did not shout NOR even raised my voice during the meeting. However, I do understand sensational headings do attract readers, so if that helps keep the conversation alive to highlight our government is pushing for high density developers to have their projects streamlined, local control thwarted, no acountablility for developers to have crime free housing to protect their residents, etc. etc. then that is the positive. Remember our PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS are at stake as well as OPEN SPACES. We must stay vigilant and continue to question authority.
Roger June 28, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Yes, the legislature is the problem. SB375 is about to be strengthened with SB 1220 and SB 226. Send your opposition letters to your rep now or live with the resulting strengthened housing/transportation mandate.
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) June 28, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Toni, I took down your photo, which was only added because it was made available to me and gave the coverage a Novato angle (something I always look to add to a regional piece). There was no sinister motivation behind it. As for the story itself, I trust that the depiction of the meeting's tone is accurate. That doesn't mean every speaker or every attendee is in a vein-popping frenzy, but everybody gets a different perspective by reading a story. Patch can't control how people react or what impression they take away after reading a story. I would urge folks to take it for what it's worth. If there are other impressions, Patch provides that forum to share your opinions.
SHROYER FOR SUPERVISOR 2014 June 28, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Thank you Brent. If my mother saw the photo she would have said, "Honey I miss the days when you use to style your hair and wear make up."
Tina McMillan June 28, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Roger SB1220 didn't get the 2/3rd majority and is off the table for the moment http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/Bills/SB_1220/20112012/ but DeSaulnier has other bills pending that would create a elected body of regional representatives with the power to impose regional planning over local laws, SB1149. http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/Bills/SB_1149/20112012/ It has been tabled for a year but should it go back to the assembly it will only take a majority vote to pass. Thank you for the heads up on SB226 http://opr.ca.gov/s_sb226.php CEQA Streamlining for Infill Projects (SB 226) It looks like CEQA will not be applicable to infill projects based on the sustainable communities strategy because, according to this bill, they will be exempt from review that is now required of all projects. Wow, it gets scarier and scarier. The lack of checks and balances in our legislature is only going to get worse. We need groups that are normally in opposition to work together to prevent this from happening. Environmentalists have thus far supported One Bay Area. Perhaps this will change their minds.
Eleanor Sluis June 28, 2012 at 06:46 PM
The non-disenfranchised as well as the distracters, disrupters, derailers want the media, federal and state to get the message that they are frustrated with the controls mandated for funding more housing in environmentally sensitive areas and in areas with few financial capabilities to provide for the extra services required for roads, schools, health care and policing. We are all trying to think, speak or write to find solutions on how to exist, reach our potential, and to be stewards of this earth. Each person chooses how to do this. Consider this passage from Einstein: ‘The words of the language as they are originally spoken don’t seem to play any role at all in my mechanism of thought. The elements of my thought are certain signs, or more or less clear images, which in my case are of a visual and sometimes of a muscular type. The combination of these different images in productive thought is what enables me to make progress before there is any connection with logical construction in words or any other sign that could be communicated to others.'" “When Einstein is thinking he could not describe to anyone in words what’s going on in his mind. And if you press too hard, nothing comes of it." http://www.fastcocreate.com/1680999/4-lessons-in-creativity-from-john-cleese
Trish Boorstein June 28, 2012 at 07:33 PM
I wish I could have gone with you Toni! You are one of Novato's exemplary fearless leaders. Kudos to you for speaking up! Thank you for attending Tuesday's city meeting too and speaking up on the fiscal and safety issues.
Kevin June 28, 2012 at 07:38 PM
JL Grimes. Looking through all of your past comments proves the point that you are completely irreverent. If other folks would like to see his past comments click on his name and read away!
Georgia B June 28, 2012 at 07:49 PM
It behooves each of us to constantly be aware of, and weigh, the many laws our government places upon us by comparing them to the definitions provided by Tina. Loosing our freedoms concerns me. Guess I am one of Jan's "nutjob's".
M. Calwald June 28, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Georgia B. good point! We are all nutjobs, crackpots, hysterical etc. etc. if we do not have blind faith in MTC, ABAG and MCF! They want us to be sheep and baaaaaaa away, but sorry folks, this is America and there is push back!
Al Dugan June 29, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Thanks for giving encouragement. Glad to have you back despite the fact you have said twice you were never coming back. Please continue to be the statesman for your cause.
Al Dugan June 29, 2012 at 03:06 AM
Roger that...well said.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr June 29, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Toni Shroyer is Novato's Guardian Angel. Listen to her. And get the 71% of Novato voters who refused to vote in the last city council election off their duffs. The city council will not listen to the citizens until the citizens recognize their duty to contribute to the democratic process.
pamma lee June 29, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Bob is 100% correct. I've been to a couple of meetings, too. True public input was not wanted or allowed. "Sustainable" is the UN's code for wealth redistribution. UN recently gave up on the global warming hoax, as it was unable to sell it after many years of trying. It will use the word "sustainable" going forward. You can read all about this yourself. It was the hot topic at the recent environmental conference. OneBayArea is cut&pasted from UN's Agenda 21. Look it up. It's meant to reduce energy use and quality of life for "rich" countries and redistribute their wealth to "developing" countries. OneBayArea's goal is "equitable outcomes." That is not in the US Constitution. "Social equity," "environmental justice," these are the goals. Think about what that means. It means taking from those who have and giving it to others. The plan is to stuff people into dense highrise buildings, and to bar development in suburbs. And the housing will be subsidized. They mean to plant very low income folks, who are entirely dependent on our subsidies, next door to us, in the name of "equity." It's not fair that some do well enough to afford to live in nice communities, relegating the poor to lesser locales (that's the UN and OneBayArea/ABAG line). We must resist.
pamma lee June 29, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Virtually all press coverage takes a dismissive attitude toward anyone who questions these oppressive mandates. There must be a reason, and it must have to do with money and access.
pamma lee June 29, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Well, ALL development is intended to be highrise/dense, not only for "poor." The housing is meant to be "mixed." And stuffing the "poor" into the communities is meant to force the communities to raise taxes to provide all the services these huge new populations will need. Anybody with 1/62 brain knows that increasing the populations could not possibly reduce the scary "greenhouse gas." That should tell anybody still in the dark that it has nothing to do with the environment or ghg. If you read OneBayArea's documentation, it ADMITS its plans will not reduce ghg, and if you read deeply, you will see that they express concern whether the citizens will support its plans once they figure out that it won't reduce ghg and realize the agenda is something else. Don't believe me. Google, read, and read more. There's a lot in OBA and related documentation. The radical environmental groups are prime movers in all this, btw.
pamma lee June 29, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Tina, doesn't it tell us that the environmental regs have other agendas? To make it hard for us to use our property, but if extremist special interest groups want to act, the environmental impact is irrelevant. Jerry Brown was on the cusp of giving a pass to the slow train debacle (waiving environmental review regs), but with his tax proposals on the ballot, he couldn't do it. Make no mistake. Our way of life is under assault. It is not a local issue. It's a global move. Again, don't believe me. Do the research and see what Hillary and admin people are committing us to, via international treaties and commitments. It will diminish our way of life and send our money to others. We can't turn on our lights, so somebody in Africa can have electricity. Can't put it more simply that that.
pamma lee June 29, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Proud nutjob here, too. Not afraid of being called vile names. I can take it.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr June 29, 2012 at 09:15 PM
@Pamma Lee, yours are some of the most insightful political observations I have seen in Marin and all of California. Keep up the good work, and circulate your opinions to the less informed. We will all benefit from that.
Bob Ratto June 29, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Can I sign up for the "nutjob" list, too? I was thinking a while ago (I only do it once in a while) we are living in insanity. We have the highest tax rates in the country, and we have an unelected group that answers to no one, but tells how we are going to live in the future. This group is immune to budget deficits or any fiscal reality, yet they manage to get our elected leaders to tell us how good a new train will be (for which we further tax ourselves), so we can eventually exercise eminent domain on people for "Priority Development Areas"..and in doing so, we will somehow build our way to GHG reduction.
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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