YOLO SUN OPINION :

Woodland City Council has during 2016 delayed its General Plan (2015-2035) processes and wasted several hundred thousand dollars of precious City revenue, behaving like a dumb animal with a ring through its nose, being led by obvious hoaxes contrived by Conaway Preservation Group (Conaway), a little band of very rich and powerful folk who own about 17,000 acres within the Yolo Bypass of the Sacramento River.

Conaway also presently owns (so to speak) Woodland City Hall.

Conaway was a partner for Woodland’s (Davis’ and UCD’s) new surface water program, and is now “joined-at-the-hip” to Woodland, says its regular representative, Bob Thomas.

Voters of Woodland are capable of reclaiming their City Hall from Conaway’s grasp, etc., at the upcoming City Council Election, on November 8.

Jim Hilliard (now mayor) attempted a year ago to justify City inclusion of Conaway’s development option / alternative (on eastern edge of Woodland, nearby the City’s Waste Water Treatment Facility) within general plan processes — in order to preserve farm land.

Council member Sean Denny swiftly agreed with Hilliard and the rest of City Council (Tom Stallard, for whom sheer consensus is often a good enough reason to cave in, and Angel Barajas) soon fully caved in to this unbelievable, unconscionable hoax.

Please see previous Yolo Sun articles, just below on scroll:

Conaway’s Crazy Campaign Succeeding, Woodland City Council Succumbs To Hoaxes

 

Woodland Planning Commission Buffaloed By Conaway Ranch, Regarding New General Plan

 

Voters of Woodland in 2006 adopted its Urban Limit Line Ordinance (ULLO), which set ultimate parameters for City growth; those parameters include a relatively small amount of farm land along the City’s southern border.

The basic and approved public policy notion of the ULLO was to draw a line, outside of which no conversion of farm land could ever occur.

Now, this silly City Council — clearly at the strict beck and call of Conaway — wants to arrogantly ignore the plainly spoken will of City voter, by presuming that development of this small amount of farm land within the Urban Limit Line should be hindered / balanced toward the favor of Conaway’s plan to develop easterly, out past Gateway Center, into the floodplain (some distant day to be fixed, assisted by Conaway’s purchase and development of ~900 acres of City land (with potential freeway frontage), now used as a spray-field for organic residue from Pacific Coast Producers’ local tomato cannery, through relocating its spray-field somewhere within Conaway’s many thousands of acres around Yolo Bypass).

At the recent (August 24) City Council – Planning Commission meeting to receive the draft City General Plan, a stream of public testimony — churned up earlier in 2016, by a deviously misleading policy campaign, created by the sending of (very pretty, Conaway approved) post cards to City Hall — seemingly demanded City protection of farm land within the Urban Limit Line.

As previously and accurately announced by Woodland Planning Commissioner, John Murphy: “That ship has already sailed.”

At this draft General Plan reception, there was present a representative (from its Lodi headquarters) of Pacific Coast Producers, “concerned” about how its local tomato cannery was becoming involved within the sketchy chemistry of Woodland City Council politics.

Teamsters Union folk have appeared before the City Council / Planning Commission, falsely arguing that cannery jobs are somehow at risk because of an inadequate spray-field; and thus, the City should pay keen attention to Conaway, since it has ready a better spray-field (and it can then purchase the current ~900 acre spray-field to join with its adjacent land holdings and develop at the eastern edge of the ULLO).

Interestingly, this cannery-ownership representative stated (to Yolo Sun) some quite interesting facts.

Most all of the cannery’s very considerable amount of tomatoes come from with 15 miles of it; but — only about 25 or 50 acres of cannery tomatoes come from within the City Urban Limit Line.

Development on farm land within the Urban Limit Line will, thus — not have any significant effect upon cannery operations.

Also, the cannery will attempt to follow “whatever” the city desires (if revenue neutral); in other words, whatever the city wants, including new development being exclusively directed southerly and no new spray-field, are fully acceptable to it.  There is no form of urgency about the status of its spray-field (and “no recent complaints”), which is large enough to satisfy future cannery needs, for more than a decade if not perhaps forever.

Pacific Coast Producers’ cannery’s future viability does not depend in any way upon the various cons of Conaway.  The cannery was dragged into this matter, simply because Conaway wants its spray-field for development purposes and needs to conjure-up whatever manner of hoaxes are needed to get what it wants, at great expense to Woodland and its citizens.

Voters of Woodland decided, a full decade ago, to develop the farm land within the Urban Limit Line, so that inevitable, slow urban sprawl would not further and unreasonably encroach upon local farm lands.  As well, such land is a prime resource for optimized City planning.

The City Council decided, only a few weeks ago, to appoint Skip Davies to the Council, instead of holding a democratic election, as a device to strengthen Conaway’s control of City Hall.  Davies noted at this recent meeting that — increased City regulatory barriers to any conversion / development of farm land within the Urban Limit Line — should now be strongly considered.

Davies’ newly expressed view appears to be directly at odds with Woodland’s voters and its ULLO, but cunningly consistent with Conaway’s interests.

To complain about and attempt to slyly subvert such well-formulated and clearly intended voter policy, as is now being contrived and contemplated by Woodland City Council — is tantamount to civic (political) treason.

 

 

YOLO SUN OPINION :

Before its summer recess, Woodland City Council decided to fill the two-year remains of former Council Member Bill Marble’s term, by means of suddenly appointing former two-term Council Member and Mayor Skip Davies.

At this same meeting, Tom Stallard was removed as Mayor, in favor of Council Member Jim Hilliard, for the rest of 2016, and Council Member Angel Barajas was assigned to be Mayor during 2017.

Oddly, an election for Woodland City Council is on the November General Election Ballot, in only a few months,  where Marble’s “at-large” Council seat could have been contested, rather than being subject to (with this timing) an undemocratic incumbent appointment.

Woodland City Council (perhaps excepting Barajas) is slyly reinforcing what is termed the “good-ol’-boy” political system, for many decades the prevailing force within Woodland.

Woodland City Council easily could have chosen to place this quite key council vacancy upon City voters’ ballot, as being the last “at-large” Council seat in City history.

The City “good-ol’-boy” system — under thrall of instant civil-rights litigation — has now (2016) agreed to split the City into five (5) electoral districts and it will hold its Elections at regular General Elections — instead of Primary Elections, where — combined with an “at-large” venue — powers of this “good-ol’-boy” political system were best protected against assault from our City’s citizens, who usually focus on General Elections.

So, how and why was Davies appointed?

Process to fill Council Member Jeff Monroe’s (2010) vacancy included almost thirty (30) applications.  Marble’s vacancy only brought six (6) applications, perhaps because the word was out in the local “good-ol’-boy” network, that Davies had already secured the votes of Council Members Hilliard, Stallard and Denny — locking-in his Council appointment.

Indeed, such a scene was on display at this City Council meeting (July 19), where Hilliard and Denny very strongly insisted that Skip Davies be immediately appointed and, to the seeming distress of Barajas, Stallard (although he had earlier requested more time and process) quickly conceded — ensuring Davies would be appointed (perhaps because anyone on the local political grapevine knew that this was the “good-ol’-boy” plan).

Civic corruption is at the center of this Council appointment.  Lame excuse given, was that Davies being on the council is somehow essential for best adopting the new General Plan.

Davies is in Conaway’s (Conaway Preservation Group’s) ‘hip-pocket,’ when it comes to assuring its (perhaps unreasonable) commercial interests,  for soon increasing various developments at the City’s eastern border (where it holds what it believes to be valuable interests) are advanced within the new City General Plan (2015-2035).

Also clearly in Conaway’s ‘hip-pocket’ are Council Members Hilliard and Denny: Thus, their joint and sudden (as if planned) insistence, during this key council meeting,  that Davies be immediately appointed (while a local election option was earlier shunned).

So, what’s wrong with appointment of “good-ol’-boy” Davies?

This Woodland City Council 2-year vacancy clearly should have been filled with an obviously convenient, democratic election, coincident with its new election format.

Selection of an appointment process for this council seat vividly implies desperate and undemocratic influences within Woodland City Hall, determined to further entrench the local “good-ol’-boy” political apparatus, in hopes maintaining its control of city affairs.

So, what else is wrong with appointment of “good-ol’-boy” Davies?

Where does one begin?

(1)  Davies was instrumental in the — essentially unlawful (a cooked city redevelopment report at the root) — collapse of the City’s opportunity to have developed a renovated and expanded State Theatre complex, five years ago, siding with Paul Petrovich, against very valuable and vastly resonant City interests;

(2)  Davies was a very strong proponent and formidable instigator of the City’s greatly failed Gateway 2 Project (and often heard to say, “we have to get her done”), which has since established state legal history, with a half-dozen violations of state environmental law and ten reprimands of City legal counsel, by the state appellate court — within only 50 pages of this state appellate court opinion;

(3)  Davies was exposed as conniving a “sweetheart deal” between the City and his crony, Bob Takhar (aka: Takhar Bharpur), for an unreasonable and fiscally unwarranted extension of city services to the AM-PM Mini-Mart And Gas Station at the West Street – I-5 Freeway Interchange, outside of the city limits; Takhar, after receiving only 3% interest and long-term installment payments for the expense of providing city services — failed for several years to even pay off this “sweetheart deal” — until Yolo Sun and Woodland Record exposed Takhar’s and Davies’ conduct, resulting in collection of ~ $150,000 of due city revenue;

(4)  Davies was exposed as writing and submitting to the Yolo County Superior Court — on City letterhead and signed as Mayor of Woodland —  a clemency plea for a convicted local pedophile, which he could have done on his own personal initiative; this abuse excused by the Daily Democrat as being his believable mistake of reaching for the wrong stationary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOLO SUN OPINION :

Woodland Public Library is the oldest operating (Andrew) Carnegie Library in California and about half of the size it should be in the modern era.

Formerly, a city utility tax helped fund prior (1980s-era) library renovation and maintenance, but this tax was not renewed, because of the emergence of local Measure E (2006-2018), a half-cent sales tax.

Library trustees of those days were persuaded to fully merge its fiscal interests with the city by not seeking to renew its former utility-tax funding, instead relying on Measure E.

The ~20,000 square foot library (of which, tellingly, a 2000 square foot section still remains unfinished for decades, finally due to be accomplished in 2017) was initially provided with 8% of Measure E funds in 2006: 1% for exterior renovations and 7% for a then proposed 10,000 square foot expansion.

This dimension of planned library expansion is based upon — long obsolete policy language — in Woodland’s (2002) General Plan.

Since at least 2001, American Library Association Guidelines have determined that .75 – 1.0 square feet of space per capita is recommended for a library such as Woodland’s. Its General Plan, however, sets policy for the library service standard at only .5 square foot per capita.

In order to satisfy this nationally recommended criteria (developed over a half-century of broad library experience) for serving 56,400 persons — and growing — the Woodland Public Library would need to at least double in size.

The previously planned, 10,000 square foot library expansion project is clearly insufficient to provide this community with service standards that support the library’s important missions, at the apex of local culture.

Woodland General Plan’s substandard /obsolete library-service goal (half a square foot per capita) must now be replaced with current national standards (three-quarters to one square foot per capita).

Funding for a 20,000 – 25,000 square foot library expansion must be raised, for credibility of the city’s new (2015-2035) General Plan.

Measure E expires in June of 2018 (with funding through September).

General fund tax measures (even linked to advisory measures for political (not legal) purposes) must appear on a city council election ballot. City elections have shifted to November; so, 2016 is the last election to occur before expiration of Measure E.

Renewing Measure E would annually bring ~$4.5 million to city coffers, but most of this money is intended for the city’s roadway improvement program and city debt tied to its new community – sports park complex.

Already lined up behind those key fiscal needs are several public safety goals, which always tend to trump library goals. The library won’t receive much of anything from a simply renewed Measure E, making a farce of properly updating relevant general plan standards.

Is Woodland to have Cadillac roads, alongside a sorely limping library?

Thus – Measure E must be revised, not simply renewed, this time establishing a three-quarter cent tax, combining with the existing quarter-cent tax (Measure J) to make a full cent of sales tax available for city purposes.

That extra quarter-cent of sales tax would annually garner ~$2.25 million, of which $1.25 million should be devoted by advisory commitment to the library, raising $15 million in total (over twelve years) for its proper expansion.

About $1 million per year would also become available to best resolve intense squabbling over the fringe of inadequate half-cent tax revenue.

Measure J (similarly with other local tax measures) was adopted by a 68.6% majority of the local (2014) electorate.

A revised Measure E, setting a three-quarter cent sales tax, would easily be adopted at a threshold of 50% plus one vote.

On balance, Woodland Public Library is as important and popular as the local road program, bonded debt service and public safety.

Woodland City Council must recognize and support library service to local cultural safety (and public / community welfare), by revising both its new General Plan and Measure E for needed satisfaction of library interests.

 

YOLO SUN NEWS REPORT :

City of Woodland and Yolo County have for about seven years been discussing the notion of negotiating a new property tax (and perhaps, sales tax) split to accommodate future annexations.

Three proposed annexations are now being moved forward by the city, in conjunction with its new General Plan (2015-35), two in its industrial area, alongside a pivotal, ~350 acre business-park and mixed-use development on the city’s southern border (north of County Road 25A and east of Highway 113, potentially drawing ~5,500 employees and ~4000 residents).

“We are waiting for a proposal from the city. It can be as expansive or as restrictive as they want. But we need a proposal to consider. It is that easy,” indicates Yolo County Board of Supervisors’ Chairperson, Matt Rexroad.

Supervisor Rexroad continues, “The city is attempting to do whatever they want to do to carry out their vision for the growth of Woodland. That process will be determined by the Woodland City Council with the general plan and other land use decisions/documents.

“The county believes that the way these tax sharing agreements have taken place in the past are not adequate to fund the desired level of service. In the past 6-7 years we have attempted to document the desired level of service, funding plans, and nexus studies to prepare for thoughtful negotiations when an annexation opportunity came up. Winters, Davis and Woodland all seem to have possible annexation in the future.

“The county is not wed to a specific formula but certainly knows what needs to be funded and we will work with the municipalities on what the formula looks like.

“Until we get a proposal from one of the cities . . . , we wait.”

Dramatic New Woodland Tax Sharing Proposal On The Way

Spectacularly, City of Woodland’s new property tax sharing proposal will suddenly request an increase of between ~50% and ~67% above its existing tax share.

Jointly, county and city property-tax shares are only 24.87% of total property tax, the rest (~75%) going to the state and related local districts.

Since 1980 (over thirty-five years), such a tax-sharing agreement has remained constant, 51.6% to the city and 48.4% to the county, roughly an equal, ~12% share.  Several times, the county has negotiated marginal increases to its share, based upon other aspects of local taxation.

Annexations tied to the new city General Plan (2015-35) looming, the city has recently produced expert studies revealing that it must receive a very sharp increase of tax share (~50% to ~67%), in order to afford basic public services related to new development.

Instead of ~12%, the city abruptly says it needs (a) between ~18% and ~20% of new property tax money (leaving ~5% or ~7% for the county), plus (b) a renegotiation of several past tax sharing agreements.

Spring Lake  Was Hugely Unaffordable For City, Apart Great Recession

Woodland City Manager, Paul Navazio, explains that, on the subject of addressing costs of public service deficiencies — “Woodland is dealing with that in Spring Lake, as we speak,” because of the inadequate (even in 2002) ~12% property tax share received by the City.

This ~12% city property tax share “is one of the main reasons why the residents in the Spring Lake area are burdened with additional landscape and lighting assessment district, community facility district and maintenance costs,” says Navazio.

The city has “a very disparate and varied array of property tax shares,” throughout the city, describes Navazio.

“Diluted” tax share, over the years, has left the city with average of about 20% overall.

“Recent annexation,” though, at ~12%  of property tax, expresses Navazio to the city council at its recent meeting, “makes it very difficult for the city to adequately provide the full array of municipal services that we’re responsible for, without necessitating adding supplemental taxes, supplemental assessments, supplemental revenue sources in order for those projects to not be a financial drain on the city.”

“Our goal going forward . . . is to approach” annexations and tax sharing “such that we’re comfortable that the city is in the best possible position to be able to provide the services without undue burden on new development” or on the existing city, and without negatively impacting the county.

A Matter Of Fiscal & Services Balance, With Several Key Side-Items

“The whole exercise is how to balance the city’s needs to provide services, the county’s needs for their ongoing responsibilities with . . a shrinking pot of revenues,”says Navazio.

“[W]e believe that there is an opportunity and maybe a need to also engage the county in revisiting some of the agreements that had been reached in the past.”

For one example, to move forward the Gibson Ranch annexation in 1992 (site of the city’s Southeast Area Specific Plan), the city agreed to give the county 20% of its citywide, hotel-motel tax revenue.

Navazio characterizes this sort of negotiation tactic as “fairly unique,” and it now represents almost $200,000 to the city, annually.  Since the city has new plans for a downtown hotel, he wants to bring that matter back to the table.

Other pithy items related to past tax sharing agreements will likely also find their way back onto this key negotiation table, for such a fundamental realignment of local property tax shares.

Navazio indicates that the city believes the county has almost no public-service burden exposure for industrial zoning, even proposing on one scenario, to zero-out the county tax take for any new such city zoning.

“[D]ifferent revenue generating potential[s] and [ ] very different cost of service characteristic[s]” clearly exist between distinct uses (residential, commercial, industrial, mixed-use), offers Navazio.

The County Fair Mall “Expansion Area,” a 40 acre, vacant parcel between the Mall and the city Community Center Complex, was annexed for commercial use in 1999, on the historical (~12% / ~12%) tax split.

Now, this key parcel is being considered for residential uses (a more expensive developmental category); thus, this previous tax sharing agreement also seems quite ripe for renegotiation.

 

 

YOLO SUN OPINION :

Hoaxes, a favorite style of political sport for an influential clique of folk fostering local confusions, were in full sway with Woodland City Council on November 3, as it unanimously approved expensive environmental studies for two competing scenarios / options of City growth during the next 20 years.

Woodland City Council wasted a few hundred thousand dollars, overall, for what was termed by City staff and council members alike, as a desired “flexibility” of new general plan, developmental options – adopted to appease Conway Ranch and its coterie of seemingly persuasive local supporters, such as two former two-term mayors, the county schools chief and the Teamsters Union.

Having such “flexibility” is sort of like saying the city may want to fly to the moon, so let’s investigate that option in utter detail – foolishly wasting $120,000 of precious city funds – about the annual cost of a cop on city streets.

As well, the new general plan process needed an efficiently economical focus, not a crazy and wasteful, boondoggle option.  $120,000 represents only a portion of the full municipal cost for such a broadly delirious distraction of city decision-making.

General Plan Realism

Realistically, the new Woodland General Plan (2015-35) should only include new development toward the County Road 25A interchange on Highway 113 and a limited portion of land outside the flood zone north of Kentucky Avenue.

That simple nature of new general plan process and inclusion is very reasonable for the next twenty years or so of city growth, recognizing that the Spring Lake Specific Plan is now only about 35% complete and basic consensus that such infill (to about 80% build-out) takes precedence over opening any land for new development.

For one thing, the city is annually spending a third ($2 million) of its total sales tax revenue to back-fill financial deficiencies regarding retarded development of the Spring Lake Specific Plan, which fiscally leveraged several city capital projects (the Community & Senior Center, Sports Park and upgraded Sewage Treatment Plant).

Post – Spring Lake, developing primarily south toward the Urban Limit Line at County Road 25A (using Spring Lake’s basic public infrastructure), with some development consistent with flood safety north of Kentucky Avenue, encompasses all of the city’s viable new development options on the twenty year planning horizon, period.

Equal Weight, Unequal Value

Propelled by a – “buffaloed” – (please see prior Yolo Sun article) Woodland City Planning Commission, however – City staff swiftly prepared “equally weighed” (similar housing, job and population increases over twenty years) choices / options of direction for City growth and planning.

One of these alternatives features development of ~900 acres at the city’s eastern edge, land owned by the city – exclusively – for the purpose of leasing it to the local cannery as a spray field for its production residues.

This ~900 acres was bought by the city (some of this land obtained from Conaway Ranch) with use of a federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant, for reason of establishing sustainable treatment related to the waste products of the cannery, a large local employer.

In order to develop this ~900 acres, at all, this federal EPA grant of $2 million would first have to be repaid.

Conaway ‘s Crazy Campaign And Greasy Gambit

Proposed development of this ~900 acres, the subject of a local political (postcard) campaign during 2015, is premised on the incorrect notion (even expressed by city planning commissioners) that the city is under some kind of obligation to discover ways to negotiate with Conaway Ranch, in order to have it provide cooperation for two primary city goals, flood control and railroad relocation.

Conaway Ranch is already legally obligated to cooperate with the city, in all reasonable ways, regarding these two matters (please see prior Yolo Sun article).

Cooperation by Conaway Ranch, regarding flood control and rail relocation, is guaranteed as a part of the Woodland – Davis – Conaway Ranch, surface-water agreement, expected to begin to deliver water to the City in 2016.

Why are city council members ignoring this pivotal fact, entertaining a bogus political campaign based on an obvious hoax?

As well, involvement of the Teamsters Union implies that cannery jobs are at risk, if the city does not act as it desires.  City staff indicate that this view is utter nonsense; while, lack of involvement in this campaign by cannery staff says similarly.

Multiple hoaxes, ingredients of a distinctive scheme of municipal intimidation, are here impelling serious and wasteful city council mistakes – among council members who unanimously ignore both the facts and the involved civic interests.

It’s All About Conaway’s Desire For Commercial Freeway Frontage

Conaway Ranch owns several hundred acres of potential (both sides), freeway commercial frontage, just north of this ~900 acre (spray field) parcel.

To develop these several hundred acres, Conaway needs freeway access.  This 900 acre parcel is the only key to that freeway access, getting new I-5 freeway access ramps to service its (then) potentially quite valuable property.

That’s what all this crazy political campaign is about: Conaway’s lust for a long, double-decker slice of I-5 freeway commercial frontage at the eastern entrance to Woodland.

To get that, Conaway needs to control and cause development of this adjacent ~900 acre parcel – providing the dimension of planning gravity necessary to justify creating new I–5 freeway on and off ramps.

To make that notion in any way plausible, Conaway had to ensure that this ~900 acres was included within the environmental scoping process of the new city general plan.

Of course, Conaway’s dream-come-true would be for the new general plan alternative / option which it dominates, to become adopted by the city council.  Apparently, at least two council votes already exist (please see below, Hilliard and Denny) to accomplish this civic nightmare.  One more council vote, and Conaway could celebrate.

So, Conaway has created a cynical campaign of blatant deception about relevant issues and somehow enlisted a small group of local “heavy-hitters” to express its confusing and deceptive message.  Apparently, about half of these folk have already jumped ship over being manipulated for such connivance.

This cynical campaign was based upon a letter circulated by a former mayor and signed by five other influential local persons, in late 2014; it now appears that only three signatories remain on board the resulting political campaign (one signatory didn’t even know there was such a campaign, when contacted by Yolo Sun earlier this year).

Former mayors Art Pimentel and Marlin (Skip) Davies, as well as county school board chief, Jesse Ortiz, appeared before city council on November 3 to testify on behalf of Conaway.  Plus, local political new-comer, Joe Romero, has taken up its crazy cause.

City Council Synopsis

Woodland Council Member Jim Hilliard easily supported the notion of studying a new general plan, as Conaway desires, because “farmland should be the last to develop,” starkly ignoring the city’s (voter-initiated) Urban Limit Line Ordinance and the stunningly hypocritical fact that he already supports development of a thick slice of prime farmland near County Road 25A.

Any new general plan policy (which both Hilliard and Woodland Council Member Sean Denny clearly appear to anticipate, and upon which Hilliard seemed to presume the agreement of Council Member Angel Barajas) about preserving farm land within the Urban Limit Line plainly conflicts with local voter intent, making any such general plan policy – unlawful.

If members of Woodland City Council desire to install any general plan priority against development of farmland within the Urban Limit Line, that question must be put successfully to local voters on a 2016 ballot referendum.  Let’s see how far such a crazy notion will advance – not far.

So, the third hoax is herein revealed; considering development of these ~900 acres, for any reason about preserving farmland – is total nonsense.

Woodland Mayor Tom Stallard was quoted within the few and diminishing folds of a local newspaper (The Daily Disappointment / The Daily Dinkycrap) to the effect that: “I believe in using data and information to make decisions;” well, by acceptance of the several gleaming hoaxes outlined above, such beliefs are being inconsistently applied.

Civic Transparency?

In recent years, the city (after so many lapses) claims to now be “transparent;” such city council antics as these belie that political pledge.

Here, city council members, on the crude basis of multiple hoaxes and political connivance, are so easily inclined to swallow whatever creepy mess Conaway serves up.

So much for transparency about the facts and policies of public interest – the underhanded fix is in for Conaway Ranch.

Council Member Bill Marble must be familiar with the fact of Conaway signing the surface-water agreement, which guarantees its cooperation with city flood control and rail relocation efforts.  After all, he represented the city in this matter.  However, not a peep was heard from him.

This local semi-daily newspaper (alluded to above) also was reasonably familiar with these twisted and pivotal civic issues and it chose to ignore them; truly, acting as a plain, limp stenographer for a crooked city council and related interests (such as the local Chamber of Commerce) – it usually cannot report its way out of a paper bag, to immense and everlasting community distress.

Stallard (while seemingly knowing better) weakly complained about these sordid circumstances and this huge waste of city money and effort – but then he proclaimed that – “unanimity” – among the city council members was more important than either the facts, good city policy making or the city council’s fair and honorable address to such.

Citizens of Woodland may indeed wonder where this city council culture of compromises, based on hoaxes, will continue to lead.

 

 

YOLO SUN OPINION :

[Editor’s note: Woodland Planning Commission’s recommendation to the City Council about this item is included within City Council consideration of the new (2015-2035) General Plan, on its meeting agenda for November 3, 2015.]

Native Americans sometimes used a technique for hunting big-game, such as buffalo, by frightening such a herd into stampeding over a cliff.

The term, “buffaloed,” has other pertinent meanings (please see Appendix of Definitions, below), also reflecting an astonishing public event occurring between Woodland Planning Commission and Conway Ranch, in the person of Bob Thomas, its General Manager, during the Commission’s consideration of the new City General Plan (2015-2035) on July 23, 2015.

Conaway’s Campaign

Conway Ranch has instigated a political campaign during 2015, involving colorful and deceptive post cards (Yolo Sun published an article about this campaign:   https://yolosun.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/conaways-skippered-general-plan-campaign-should-be-scuppered/  ), that campaign proponents now say (in July) amounted to slightly more than 3000 cards being delivered to Woodland City Hall.

This campaign matter concerns a 900 acre parcel owned by the city and located at its eastern edge (south of I-5), which is now being leased by the local cannery as a spray-field to disperse wastes created by its operations.

Conaway Ranch (Conaway Preservation Group) owns more than 17,000 acres of eastern Yolo County and several hundred acres adjacent to this 900 acre parcel.

Clearly, Conaway desires to eventually acquire this 900 acre parcel to develop, but the parcel lies within a seriously flood-prone area, requiring a solid flood-control solution prior to any development.

Creating city (new General Plan based) planning attention to this parcel, though, would seem to establish some future civic intention / format, easing / predicating its development — despite the fact city staff has plainly advised that any such future development would be required to produce a (new) General Plan amendment, a specific plan and related environmental studies.

Thomas’ Presentation

Bob Thomas made a lengthy and detailed presentation about this parcel, to the planning commission:

“It’s in your city, it’s in your city limits, [  ] you want to plan that [900 acre] area.

“If this city sends the wrong message to the state and federal government, that it’s not important, we’re not going to fix the flood-control project.

“We’re going to have to make that [flood-control project] work, just like we made the water project work.

“That east area is important to your water supply, [  ] it’s absolutely essential to your flood control and it’s essential for your railroad relocation.

[   ]

“The preferred alternative to relocate the railroad out of your downtown is through Conaway Ranch.

“So, that east area needs to be looked at from a job employment level, from PCP; we’ve solved the water problem, and at this point we can’t throw up our hands and say, we gotta wait ‘til flood control is fixed.

“We should be allowed to go forward with the planning process now, as part of the general plan.  And if we do not have flood control in place, we cannot issue building permits.

[   ]

“[That] 900 acres is not prime ag land.  It’s a policy of the city to preserve prime ag land.

“I don’t know how long it’s gonna take, [  ] but we need to send a strong message to state and federal agencies that we want flood protection.

[   ]

“This [not acceding to our developmental plans] is slamming the door.  [  ] You have the right to proceed with a specific plan for that area.

[   ]

“By delaying the planning process, you’re delaying ultimately what might occur there, I think it sends the wrong message [   ] to federal and state government, that it’s not a priority.

“There’s an opportunity to start the specific plan, while we’re figuring out a flood solution.  They can be parallel processes; they don’t need to be sequential.

“If the city is sending a strong message that it’s land in the city that we plan on developing, [ ] it helps in terms of our federal and state partners.”

Planning Commissioners Respond

Chris Holt, Vice-chair of Woodland Planning Commission, responded:

“Mr. Thomas alluded to it, but I’ll lay it right out there for everyone.

“At some point Conaway has a lot of very good things that we need to solve some of our problems, including the flood control solution, the railway relocation, [and preserving the local cannery].

“So, we would be disingenuous to believe that Conaway would go ahead and give us all of that and not expect something back.

“So, I think that 900 acres and their interest in that 900 acres can be a benefit to us.”

John Murphy, a planning commission member who, like Holt, has been rather slow to respond in agreement with the planning wishes of Conaway Ranch, soon added:

“How do you pay the local share, [for] this?

“That’s the only asset the city’s got . . . the development potential of that property seems to be the funding source [for a flood control solution and rail relocation].

[   ]

“We have to maximize the value of that property, if that means that it has to be in [the new general plan] EIR, then it has to be in it.  I see that’s the only reason we’re even talking about that piece of property, is because of its value to the city.

“Otherwise, I wouldn’t even want to talk about developing that piece of property.

[   ]

“We can develop that piece of property, if it means we’re going to get things we actually want more, which is the flood control and the rail relocation.”

Local Cannery’s Viability Becomes Side-Issue

Thomas made the following comment about the local cannery:

“They would prefer to relocate [the spray field] away from the urban area. [  ] They really can’t make that move unless you include the 900 acres in the preferred alternative. They can’t make that move.  And I would hope that you would honor and respect and want your largest employer to be successful in this city. If it’s not in the preferred plan, they can’t move.”

In other words, Conaway Ranch believes that it controls the only reasonable prospect of relocating the cannery’s spray-field – using its land – thus, making the 900 acre parcel (with general plan zoning) available for acquisition by Conaway Ranch, which would essentially be buying it to provide the city with: (a) government grant-gap funding (~$40 million) likely needed for its flood control project, (b) Conaway’s cooperation with this flood control project and railway relocation.

Planning commissioners seem to be in harmony with Conaway’s view; although, John Murphy (at one point) questioned the necessary connection between moving the cannery’s spray-field and developing this 900 acre parcel.  Thomas failed to respond and the meeting discussion turned away from this issue.

“Growth-Inducing” Planning May Jeopardize Federal Funding

Planning Commissioner Marco Lizarraga made this comment (reflective of his other pertinent comments), echoing arguments by Thomas:

“There’s never enough incentive for the government to fund anything; the more you have, the better and the easier.”

According to city staff, though, the federal government looks askance at local governments using its flood control funding for what it describes as “growth-inducing” purposes, as contrasted with preserving and protecting existing development.  Just imagine the unsustainable, competitive scene, of local governments all across the nation extending their development projects into floodplains, at will, using federal money.

Conaway’s Con

There’s a very basic and serious problem / con regarding Conaway’s view / plan, drawing to attention sometimes strange conjunctions between names and actions (such as with Bernie Madoff).

Conaway is conning (buffaloing) the Woodland Planning Commission, as to the factual circumstances involved in this matter.

An “Agreement For Conveyance Of Real Property And Easements” was entered into by City of Woodland and Conaway Ranch (among others) on December 21, 2010.  This document is the basis for the Woodland – Davis Clean Water Agency, through which these cities will access surface water.

Apparently, Woodland Planning Commission is unaware of this key document, outlining the relevant legal relationship between Conaway Ranch and the City.

As well, Woodland Planning Commission appears to harbor the erroneous impression that the City must make some sort of deal with Conaway Ranch, about this 900 acre parcel, in order to receive its cooperation with flood control and railway relocation.

Article Three (page 8) of this legal document describes the details of obligatory cooperation by Conaway Ranch, with both Woodland’s eventual flood control project and its plans for railroad relocation:

“COOPERATION WITH RESPECT TO POTENTIAL ADDITIONAL EASEMENTS

“3.1  Cooperation  CPG covenants to cooperate, in good faith, with Davis and Woodland with respect to matters set forth in this Section 3.1 and to utilize good faith efforts to accomplish the same promptly following receipt of request by the applicable parties. The provisions of this Section 3.1 shall survive the Closing (as defined below) for a period of ten (10) years.

“3.1.1  Relocation of Railroad Tracks  Sierra Northern Railway, a California corporation (“SNR”) has railroad tracks near Conaway Ranch which extend into land owned by Woodland.  Woodland would like SNR to relocate the railroad tracks in a manner which reduces the impact on street traffic in Woodland and in order for that to occur, the relocated railroad tracks may include replacement railroad tracks through Conaway Ranch.

  • Subject to the provisions of Sections 3.2 and 3.3 below, CPG agrees to cooperate, in good faith, with Woodland’s reasonable efforts to have SNR relocate its railroad tracks by providing necessary right of way and construction easements to SNR for the relocated railroad tracks, to the extent they are placed on Conaway Ranch.
  • These easements will be granted, if at all, without payment from SNR to CPG so long as (i) CPG does not incur any direct costs in connection with the grant of such easements; (ii) SNR bears all costs and expenses associated with such easements; and (ii) SNR complies with the provisions of Section 3.4 below.

“3.1.2   Woodland Flood Protection   The Parties acknowledge that Woodland desires to improve flood protection for its City by increasing the flood capacity of Cache Creek by relocating the south levee of the Cache Creek Settling Basin and constructing a new channel south of such levee.

  • Subject to the provisions of Sections 3.2 and 3.3 below, CPG agrees to cooperate, in good faith, with Woodland’s reasonable efforts to implement such flood protection by conveying appropriate easements over Conaway Ranch located within the Cache Creek Settling Basin for the location or relocation, maintenance and operation of the necessary levees and the right to flood the areas north of such levees. These easements may cover approximately 550 acres of Conaway Ranch within the Cache Creek Settling Basin.
  • These easements will be granted, if at all, without payment by Woodland to CPG so long as (i) CPG does not incur any direct costs in connection with the grant of such easements; (ii) Woodland bears all costs and expenses associated with such easements; and (iii) Woodland complies with the provisions of Section 3.4 below.

[   ]

“3.2   Impact on Conaway Ranch   CPG shall not be obligated to provide any of the easements described in Section 3.1 if, in the exercise of CPG’s good faith business judgment, supported by substantial evidence of the same, such easement would have a material negative impact on the operation of Conaway Ranch or the marketability of the crops grown on Conaway Ranch as a whole.  [This section continues, outlining potential “effluent” / “pipeline” concerns and creating a process of non-binding mediation for potential conflicts.]

[   ]

“3.4   Terms Applicable to Easements Granted Pursuant to Section 3.1   The following provisions shall be applicable to each and every easement granted pursuant to Section 3.1 above:

“3.4.1   Diligent Construction   Once the grantee of such easement commences construction of the improvements to be located within its easement area, such grantee shall diligently prosecute the construction of such improvements through completion.

“3.4.2   Compliance With Applicable Laws   The grantee of such easement shall, at its own expense, comply with all laws applicable to the construction and operation of the improvements constructed in and the use of such easement.

“3.4.3   Provisions in Section 2.4   The provisions contained in Section 2.4 shall also apply with respect to each easement granted pursuant to Section 3.1.  Specific terminology shall be conformed to the terminology of the specific easement.

[   ]

“2.4   Coordination With Ranch Operations; Crop Damages; Restoration   [This provision is self-explanatory, concerning notice of and responsibility for potential crop damage, due to granting of relevant easements.]”

Conclusion

Conaway Ranch is legally obligated to perform according to this “Agreement For Conveyance Of Real Property And Easements.”

It is not necessary for Woodland to attempt to sway Conaway Ranch’s potential bad faith actions regarding these matters (flood control and railroad relocation), by prematurely planning development on the 900 acre parcel of city owned land which it is intent on acquiring.

Woodland Planning Commission’s decision to accede to the wishes of Conaway Ranch, by expanding the new general plan process to include planning for this 900 acre parcel, was obviously based upon a gross misunderstanding of affairs, based on Bob Thomas’ con-job of mischaracterizations.

Appendix of Definitions for the word: Buffaloed —

Cassell Dictionary of Slang contains the following entry for ‘buffaloed’: 1900s-1950s [orig. U.S.], coerced, crushed. [BUFFALO v.] This is the entry for ‘buffalo’: 19th C. [U.S.] to overawe, to frighten, to confuse

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Ed. has this to say: buffaloed 1. To intimidate, as by a display of confidence or authority 2. To deceive, hoodwink 3. to confuse, bewilder

DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN SLANG offers the following: BUFFALO verb 1) [about 1879] To confuse someone purposely, especially in order to cheat or dupe 2) [about 1890] To intimidate; cow; bulldoze

HISTORICAL DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN SLANG has relevant insights: BUFFALO verb Originally Western 1a) To intimidate or frighten, especially by means of mere bluff; to cow.

YOLO SUN OPINION :

[Editor’s note:  California Environmental Quality Act processes involve Environmental Impact Reports for significant development projects, in general, with a time period for written public comment about proposed projects, such as the Prudler Subdivision (186 low-density dwelling units on the ~40 acre, former expansion site for County Fair Mall, adjacent to Woodland Community & Senior Center on southern East Street).  The prior article presents Yolo Sun’s basic Comment.  This Supplementary Comment by Yolo Sun details objections to impacts of the proposed project upon County Fair Mall and regarding City sustainability policies and City housing policies and practices.]

October 23, 2015; Page 1 of 4

From:  Bobby Harris  [Yolo Sun]

To:  City of Woodland, Community Development Department, 300 First Street, Woodland CA 95695

Re:  Prudler Project Draft EIR (Supplementary Objections)

I’ll raise several supplementary objections to append with my commentary document filed on October 21, 2015:

The site of the proposed project is the expansion site for County Fair Mall.

Though no longer perceived as expandable, County Fair Mall remains intrinsically connected to this site, currently because its future growth space has since evolved into a prominent, potential element of its conservation.

This relationship must be recognized and applied within land use decisions regarding this (expansion) site, especially in the contemporary moment, while the future viability / nature of the Mall is quite tenuous / uncertain, with existence of very substantial / significant environmental consequences related to these evolving conditions.

As indicated within my prior document of objections, there exists a genuinely valuable mixed-use contour / relationship between County Fair Mall and its former growth site.  Such vital recognition / expression triggers the imperative need for a comprehensive analysis and evaluation of the potential influence of increased residential densities within this (expansion) site, alongside an examination regarding improved / intensified physical connectivity between these two, long associated parcels.

Limiting (to low) residential densities on this (expansion) site would result in significant and irreversible environmental effects, related to the future nature and viability of County Fair Mall.  Increased density alternatives for any residential development of the proposed project site must thus be examined, analyzed and considered within the Draft EIR.

October 23, 2015; Prudler Project (Supplementary Note); Page 2 of 4

Adjacent to the city’s East Street Corridor Specific Plan (and should have been included within in it; why it is not, is strange), future development of this site has huge and undeniable effects upon such city planning efforts; these effects must be addressed, examined, analyzed and considered within the proposed project’s Draft EIR.

Efficient, attractive and environmentally sustainable (pedestrian, etc.) access between County Fair Mall and increased density residential development upon this site would create a stronger ‘neighborhood focus and identity,’ presently lacking from the Mall’s profile.  Such a key dynamic would naturally reach into the nearby portion of Spring Lake Specific Plan.

North of the Mall, there exists state property (the county fairgrounds) which eliminates any creation of such a key commercial dynamic: close proximity.

County Fair Mall (and by some good measure, civic interests) would greatly benefit from its ability to enhance its commercial scope through such a dynamic of ‘neighborhood focus and identity,’ since its days of being at the cutting edge of major local commerce have long waned / been eclipsed.

Accomplishing such important and comprehensive public and private benefits, demands that increased density residential alternatives to the proposed project be examined, analyzed and considered in a draft EIR; the current EIR entirely fails to address these fundamental city planning issues.

It seems that this 40 acre site was oddly (erroneously) left aside as irrelevant, when composition of the relevant (urban corridor) city specific plan was created, leaving it to crazily fall through the planning-cracks and appear in the distinctly unsuitable posture of now being proposed as the same sort of low density residential zoning, of which the city has quite tremendous oversupply — as contrasted with the unique civic and private values clearly achievable (one way or another) upon this particular site.

Another example of this site falling through planning-cracks (of various sorts) is reflected by the fact that so much of my comment is directly relevant to basic issues of implementation of the city’s Urban Limit Line Ordinance, consideration of which is unlawfully absent from this Draft EIR.

October 23, 2015; Prudler Project (Supplementary Note); Page 3 of 4

Persons eventually residing within this site are at walking distance from both, responsive commercial access and access to regional Yolobus service (eliminating need to transfer from feeder-routes).  Higher density residential development is obviously an authentic value for these specific planning circumstances and such value extends to environmental effects that are not addressed, examined, analyzed or considered in this Draft EIR.

When SACOG updates its “Blueprint” for sustainable regional communities, it might well be expected that this specific site would easily be targeted for the sort of higher-density transportation / commercial hub, which is so widely promulgated by “smart-growth” planning principles.  Of course, presently, this site is not even considered by SACOG as legitimate “infill.”

Something is plainly wrong with planning of the proposed project site being processed as “infill” — outside of the contemporaneous General Plan (2015-2035) Update — while it clearly represents such potential and important values, in terms of city sustainability policies of its Climate Action Plan (noted in initial document of objections), environmental values and options likely to become recognized by the updated SACOG “Blueprint.”

These particular circumstances are environmentally pivotal; yet, because the proposed project’s Draft EIR lacks a higher residential density alternative, there is within it no address, examination, analyses or consideration of these key environmental circumstances or effects; this Draft EIR is starkly deficient, attempting to circumvent adopted public environmental policy and processes at local, regional and state levels.

Dovetailed into these serious problems are general issues regarding the city’s vast imbalance between low residential density housing / zoning and higher residential density zoning opportunities (noted at item (e) of document of objections).  Continuation of this adverse housing density imbalance by the proposed project, surely means that higher residential density opportunities must eventually become located within other (perhaps less desirable or less environmentally sustainable) locations.

This circumstance illustrates the sound-planning reasoning adopted by local voters (2006) within the city’s Urban Limit Line Ordinance, (lawful) reasoning which is being recklessly (unlawfully) ignored by this Draft EIR.

October 23, 2015; Prudler Project (Supplementary Note); Page 4 of 4

Environmental effects / impacts certainly occur as a result of contrasting / differential locations of lower and higher density residential developments.

This Draft EIR fails to address, examine, analyze or consider these serious, cumulative and irreversible environmental effects / impacts, caused by the proposed project’s perpetuation / extension of an enormous disparity between low and high density residential development.
_____________________________

BOBBY HARRIS

YOLO SUN OPINION :

[Editor’s note: This formal document of objections to the Prudler Project Draft (California Environmental Quality Act) Environmental Impact Report will be filed with City of Woodland on October 19, 2015.]

_________

October 19, 2015; 6 pages, Items (a) – (h)

From: Bobby Harris

To: City of Woodland

City of Woodland, Community Development Department

300 First Street, Woodland CA 95695

Re: Prudler Project Draft EIR

I raise the following objections to the Prudler Project Draft EIR:

(a)  The mixed-use alternative is obviously unreasonable, appearing to be simply a – “straw-man” — used to leverage exclusion from consideration of a higher density alternative — which it is absolutely essential to examine.

A prominent “project objective” is not to compete with County Fair Mall, which has submitted a letter in support of the proposed project (and would not have done so if there was any valid reason (via City Hall) to believe that commercial zoning would become any significant aspect of it).

Truly — the actual mixed-use character of this overall situation is readily seen: County Fair Mall is the commercial element, while its (equal, former) expansion area occupies the residential component of a mixed-use format.

The pivotal question is: What level of residential zoning density is optimal?

Mall owners will swiftly say: The formula for basic success is maximization of residential densities nearby their location.  Higher residential densities at the relevant site would be supportive — if not transformative — of the actual, realistic success of County Fair Mall, the future of which remains clouded.

Environmental effects upon County Fair Mall of adopting some higher-density residential alternative at the site of the proposed project have not been addressed, analyzed or considered by the Prudler Project Draft EIR; they must be.  Environmental effects regarding future viability of County Fair Mall must be examined in relation to potential zoning decisions involving a range of residential density alternatives of the proposed project.

Prudler Project Draft EIR; October 19, 2015; page 2 of 6 

(b)  Environmental effects / impacts of the proposed project upon phased build-out of Spring Lake Specific Plan must be carefully delineated and considered, including its influences regarding basic financial elements of the Plan.  Declining rates of housing build-out and sales within the Plan will adversely affect the city’s economic planning and bonded indebtedness, as well as affecting the Plan’s capabilities to provide intended aspects of public infrastructure and facilities.  Adverse environmental effects / impacts upon Spring Lake Specific Plan will result from the proposed project; these effects / impacts remain unaddressed and unanalyzed by the Draft EIR.

(c)  Processing the proposed project as an amendment to the existing General Plan, in the face of the General Plan Update process, appears to be predicated on an erroneous perception that the site constitutes “infill,” in planning jargon.

This project does not represent legitimate “infill;” rather, it sits distinctly upon the utter municipal periphery (although possessing important urban significance, totally denigrated by the proposed, low-density style of this project).  Only the city’s civic facilities separate it from undeveloped land.

As well, the SACOG “Blueprint” for sustainable communities in this region does not recognize this site as representing proper “infill,” (“. . . does not include capacity projects within the vicinity of the [proposed] project;” please see Draft EIR, p. 229).

Also, the proposed project abruptly conflicts with key sustainability percepts of basic city planning policies, such as represented within its Climate Action Plan (please see pages 23 and 24 of document, regarding land use topics – Strategy T/LU-2: Infill Development, Redevelopment, and Repurposing; Strategy T/LU-3: Smart Growth in New Development).

Strategy T/LU-2 indicates that the city’s Urban Line Ordinance (see below) clearly applies to the irreversible environmental effects / impacts of the proposed project; yet, there is no evidence that it has been applied.  Implementing a (2006) ballot-based ordinance, it would seem justified that such city process / policies should not be occurring under-the-floorboards.  Formal, comprehensive address to contexts of the proposed project, within the city’s planning ambit of the Urban Limit Line Ordinance, is imperative.

Prudler Project Draft EIR; October 19, 2015; page 3 of 6

(d)  Not yet implemented (apparently, until the new 2015-35 General Plan), an Urban Limit Line Ordinance was adopted by Woodland voters in June of 2006.  It would seem plain that local voters did not intend a near decade-long delay in implementation of such basic planning law.

This ordinance establishes that: “[T]he City shall continually reevaluate residential land use densities, housing policies and zoning to determine the potential for increased residential densities for both infill sites and undeveloped land within the permanent urban limit line.  The City shall continually review existing non-residential zoning to determine potential for conversion to higher density residential uses within the permanent urban line.”

There has apparently yet been no municipal planning process, at all, related to implementing this ballot-based ordinance, regarding the proposed project, which is intended for location upon a unique and key peripheral site.  And of course, both prongs of this voter-installed planning ordinance have been fully relevant to this site, since it has for decades been zoned as commercial.

“[C]ontinually reevaluate” would seem to indicate that such determination would occur at least upon each successive project concept / application pertaining to such a unique and key site as the proposed project.  This legally-binding municipal ordinance, however, has apparently never been implemented for purposes of: “[D]etermin[ing] the potential for increased residential densities,” regarding the land involved with proposed project.  As noted in (c), above, basic city policy demands such implementation / application, involving irreversible environmental impacts.

Foreseeable environmental consequences of the proposed project, such as its irreversible impacts / effects regarding present, future implementation of the city’s Urban Limit Line Ordinance, alongside a range of (reasonable and relevant) alternative developmental scenarios, are obviously intended to be included within CEQA analyses.  The city’s Urban Limit Line Ordinance makes (lawfully) imperative such inclusion and analysis within the Draft EIR, of an increased density alternative for the Prudler Project.

Prudler Project Draft EIR; October 19, 2015; page 4 of 6

(e)  As outlined within objections (already within the Draft EIR, p. 230) by Legal Services of Northern California to the proposed project, the city has a glut of low density zoning / housing and a dearth of higher density zoning opportunities.  Objections to this project by Legal Services indicate that:

“The proposed Prudler Subdivision would add to the very large surplus of above-moderate and moderate income units, while failing to address the City’s obligation to rezone land to accommodate very low and low income housing units.  The City should be encouraging higher density development to address the significant shortfall, as required by housing element law.  The proposed project is inconsistent with the city’s Housing Element, further exacerbating the surplus of above-moderate income units, and its negative impact cannot be mitigated.”

Continuation of such vast imbalance between low and higher density zoning, within the proposed project, clearly contains various environmental effects / impacts remaining unaddressed and unanalyzed by the Draft EIR.

These critical / key, local housing issues, should properly become topics within the current process of General Plan Update, rather than allowing the proposed project to side-step / circumvent such profound matters, using an amendment to the decades-old, existing General Plan.  Prematurely acting (with no good civic reason) to consider / approve the proposed project, also results in environmental effects / impacts within that fundamental process; these effects / impacts remain unaddressed and unanalyzed.

(f)   City of Woodland’s General Plan Update (2015-2035) is presently being accomplished.  The relevant site is located on a principally urban, developmental and transit corridor, southern East Street.  This corridor has its own City Specific Plan, environmental effects / impacts upon which, by the proposed project, remain unaddressed, unanalyzed and unconsidered.

The relevant site is adjacent to: County Fair Mall, Yolobus’ city transit-hub, Woodland Community & Senior Center (and Sports Park) and Spring Lake Specific Plan.  Adverse environmental effects will result from prematurely acting to approve the proposed project, prior to completion and adoption of the new City General Plan, within which this site must become integrated.

Prudler Project Draft EIR; October 19, 2015; page 5 of 6

The existing General Plan and Spring Lake Specific Plan are based upon planning assumptions of the relevant site being zoned for commercial uses (please see Spring Lake Specific Plan, p. 8-1).

Alteration of such key zoning must be consolidated within comprehensive processes of the current General Plan Update, not prematurely addressed through such a proposed, tardy amendment to the existing General Plan.

Various alternatives for future development of this important site must be comprehensively identified, analyzed, evaluated and considered within the current General Plan Update.  Adverse environmental effects / impacts will flow from premature action upon the proposed project, considering and approving it, while these effects / impacts of such premature approval upon the General Plan Update process remain unaddressed and unanalyzed.

(g)  Park space within the proposed project is a subject of serious shame.

City standards require 3.35 acres of park. However, this project will provide only 1.38 acres, expecting to mitigate this huge deficiency by providing the remaining — required park space – somewhere else, outside of the project.

Such a mitigation scheme is totally unreasonable.  Park space is relevantly meaningful to inhabitants of this proposed project — only to the extent that it is properly sized and convenient.  Buying park space somewhere else, likely so these developers can expand profit margins within this project — will not serve to satisfy serious needs of this projects’ dwellers for properly sized park space; such residents will plainly be sorely distressed by a park less than half of the size it should be (according to city standards).

Mitigation is not reasonably applied in this circumstance, leaving the great majority of park space required by the proposed project, to be located at an unknown and likely, greatly inconvenient distance from the persons who need to use it.  Are folk supposed to jump into motor vehicles and drive to park space being provided through such an adverse mitigation scheme?

A point of support(?) has been raised, that this park will also be used by residents of the nearby portion of Spring Lake Specific Plan.  A special “pass-through” element has been included within the proposed project, to expedite use of this already far too small park, by Spring Lake residents.

Prudler Project Draft EIR; October 19, 2015; page 6 of 6

The proposed project’s entire park space scenario is wholly unreasonable, with a cumulative nature of environmental effects / impacts which have not been addressed, analyzed or considered within the Draft EIR.

Park space of 3 acres, while deferring a third of an acre to another location, might have been reasonable – given good cause; but, the present situation of park space within the proposed project is obviously unreasonable, untenable and must be rejected.

(h)  I incorporate by reference, as if fully set forth herein, prior Yolo Sun articles available on the internet (Jan. 24, 2014; Feb. 2, 2015; Sept. 28, 2015; Oct. 14, 2015) about the proposed project.

___________________________________

BOBBY HARRIS

YOLO SUN OPINION :

[Editor’s note: The following is an Open Letter from Yolo Sun to Woodland Planning Commission Members.]

Woodland Planning Commission Members:

Thanks so much for retaining the planned four-lane roadway on East Street, south of Gibson Road, despite the Prudler Project developers desiring its downsizing.

As you could see from my prior (personal-type) email to you, though, I’m not agreeable with your unwillingness to request an increased density alternative for the draft EIR of the Prudler Project.

[The Prudler Project proposes low density residential development on the ~40 acre vacant parcel, located between County Fair Mall and Woodland Community and Senior Center.]

I understand that you may be confused about what’s really up with this matter; your proper action does necessitate a justified deviation from “typical” (as the project consultant stated) situations, in a sort of ‘contrary to general expectations’ manner.

I had hoped, however, that my recently published letter to you may have sufficiently alerted you to these several subtleties.  But, no progress resulted.

Also, I’m seriously wondering whether you have properly reviewed the relevant material, and if you did so, whether you might well have been raising many very serious questions and issues revealed therein.

I’m hoping that upon such a review and consideration of the city’s Climate Action Plan, its Urban Limit Line Ordinance and (already filed) substantial objections to the Prudler Project and its draft EIR — you may indeed decide to request a greatly needed, increased density alternative.

Here are links (and a Yolo Sun excerpt) to relevant material about the Prudler Project :

*  Woodland’s Climate Action Plan (please see pages 23 and 24 of this document, regarding land use topics — Strategy T/LU-2: Infill Development, Redevelopment, and Repurposing and Strategy T/LU-3: Smart Growth in New Development) —

http://www.cityofwoodland.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?blobid=13682

*  Draft EIR for Prudler Project (please see pages 175 – 199, 229 – 231 (counting total pages in this huge PDF file — document cover, table of contents, etc. . . . ; mouse on scroll button should reveal exact pages) :

http://www.cityofwoodland.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?blobid=15244

*  Relevant excerpt from previous (Jan., 2014) Yolo Sun article :

___  Urban Limit Line Ordinance  ___

Not yet implemented (apparently, until the new 2015-35 General Plan), an Urban Limit Line Ordinance was adopted by Woodland voters in June of 2006.

It would seem plain that local voters did not intend a near decade-long delay in implementation of such basic planning law.

This ordinance establishes that: “[T]he City shall continually reevaluate residential land use densities, housing policies and zoning to determine the potential for increased residential densities for both infill sites and undeveloped land within the permanent urban limit line.  The City shall continually review existing non-residential zoning to determine potential for conversion to higher density residential uses within the permanent urban line.”

There has apparently yet been no municipal planning process, at all, related to implementing this ballot-based ordinance regarding YRI’s project, intended for location upon a unique and key peripheral parcel.

And of course, both prongs of this voter-installed planning ordinance have been fully relevant to YRI’s land, since it has for decades been zoned as commercial.

“[C]ontinually reevaluate” would seem to indicate that such would occur at least upon each successive project concept / application pertaining to a unique and key parcel such as YRI’s land.

This legally-binding municipal ordinance, however, has apparently never been implemented for purposes of: “[D]etermin[ing] the potential for increased residential densities,” regarding the land involved with YRI’s project.

_________

Brief Argument

Prudler Project consideration surely should await the city’s current process and eventual adoption of a new General Plan.

There is absolutely no civically responsible reason to be in a hurry.

Political and legal consequences will certainly flow from your choosing such an adverse course of project approval, please believe me.

Why this Project is now moving forward, at all, in the face of / ahead of the new General Plan, is not obvious, except that the locally well-connected George Phillips of Loomis (a former collaborator with Paul Petrovich) is its agent / applicant.

The city already has a large oversupply of low density housing (and a large undersupply of higher density housing opportunities; please see Legal Services attorney comments (two letters, one of specific recent objection to this project, the other highly critical of the city’s Housing Element) within pages of draft EIR, noted above).

Development of this key parcel must be considered in relation to the Urban Limit Line Ordinance, in conjunction with the General Plan update — not strangely (greasily?) moved and approved otherwise – unwisely ahead of such key processes.

City planning staff are improperly describing this parcel as “infill” (please see pertinent remarks of SLSP’s attorney, Pioneer Law Group, within draft EIR comments of objection, noted in pages identified, above).

This project does not represent legitimate “infill;” rather, it sits distinctly upon the municipal periphery (although possessing important urban significance — which is denigrated by the proposed project).

CEQA demands consideration of a “range of reasonable alternatives . . .” to any project.

The city and developer are attempting to skirt the spirit / letter of this law by including an unreasonable ‘straw-man’ alternative of mixed (commercial-residential) use, when project objectives outline noncompetition with County Fair Mall — and not including an increased density alternative (reasonably) required to be considered consistent with the city’s Urban Limit Line Ordinance — a pivotal component within any reasonable analysis of future land use within the city.

Foreseeable environmental consequences of the proposed project, such as its impacts / effects regarding implementation of the city’s Urban Limit Line Ordinance, alongside various (reasonable and relevant) alternative developmental scenarios, are obviously intended to be included within CEQA analyses.

The city’s Urban Limit Line Ordinance makes (lawfully) imperative such inclusion and analysis of an increased density alternative for the Prudler Project.

The project consultant clearly advised the Planning Commission at its last meeting (- predicated by my initial open letter to it, published below -) that it could properly request / demand consideration of an increased density alternative, but you didn’t do it.

I strongly suggest that you now do the following:

(a)  Carefully review and consider the relevant material provided above;

(b)  Submit comments / objections based thereon, timely to the city;

(c)  Upon the final EIR being presented in November, demand that it be recirculated with an increased density alternative.

Bobby Harris

Yolo Sun

YOLO SUN OPINION :

The new Yolo County Courthouse has just celebrated its “grand opening.”

On August 24th, Yolo Sun published a letter to state and local officials responsible for Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance at the new Yolo County Courthouse.

In this letter (please see earlier article, below on blog scroll), we detailed numerous violations and deficiencies with disabled parking and route of travel to the new courthouse.

Since writing that letter, a number of the issues we raised have been addressed — but others remain.

Judicial Council of California has sent a reply letter (please see below).

Two Sets Of Stop Signs

Based on our letter, the City of Woodland has installed stop signs on Lincoln Avenue at Sixth Street to help protect pedestrians, including the disabled, travelling from both parking lots to the courthouse.

However — somehow overlooked — was our letter’s indication of necessary installation of stop signs at the intersection of Oak Avenue and Sixth Street.  Yolo Sun has again requested city action.

The city greatly needs to install stop signs on Oak Avenue at Sixth Street to protect pedestrians using the 171 courthouse parking spaces located in the more distant of the two public parking lots, as well as pedestrians — including disabled persons — who must (are directed to) there cross Sixth Street from the closer parking lot.

As of today, the city has still not done so.  The new courthouse is filling these lots on a near-daily basis.  How long does the city intend to delay the imperative installation of this second set of stop signs?

Reply Of State Judicial Council

Construction of the new courthouse was financed and overseen by the state-level Judicial Council of California (JCC), which bears primary responsibility for its ADA compliance.

Published below, is the reply letter received from the JCC, promising to rectify several of the deficiencies we raised.  For example, it has promised to add one ADA-required, van-accessible disabled parking space, found missing from the original courthouse allotment.   JCC also promised to add signage at the parking lot across from the Police Station to discourage jay walking on Sixth Street, which pedestrians will be tempted to do to avoid as much as an extra block of travel distance between that lot and the courthouse.  Neither of these promised improvements has yet materialized, but we suppose JCC can be taken at its word and these remedies will soon be forthcoming.

Unfortunately, JCC’s reply fails to correct the most serious problem facing disabled persons traveling from their parking spaces to the courthouse – namely, the two and a half to three block distance they have to negotiate, as well as facing traffic hazards along the way, passing across two busy driveways (for the courthouse and the police station).

No Solution Yet Provided

JCC’s letter of reply addresses these concerns about unreasonable distance and hazards faced by the disabled – related to potential ADA violations — but without providing any satisfactory solution.

Our letter to JCC outlined several potential solutions, such as leasing parking for disabled persons from the large lot of Woodland Joint Unified School District (directly across Sixth Street from the courthouse).  Believably, this lot already has new signage disinclining casual parking by courthouse visitors — disabled or not.  Leased parking arrangements would allow the courthouse to direct disabled persons into this much closer lot; while, expanding regular parking within its lots several blocks away.

Other potential solutions also exist, for bringing disabled persons within a reasonable distance of travel from the courthouse door.

Yolo Sun will continue to act, monitor and report on these issues, as well as continue to seek solutions for these courthouse deficiencies.

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TEXT OF REPLY LETTER FROM JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF CALIFORNIA

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From:  Judicial Council Of California

September 4, 2015

Re:  New Yolo County Superior Courthouse (Courthouse)

Dear Mr. Harris

Thank you for your interest and concern relative to Americans Disabilities Act (ADA), and its applicability to the above Courthouse as expressed in your letter to the Judicial Council of California (JCC) ADA coordinator, Ms. Linda McCulloh. I would like to advise you that the plans for this building were developed under the regulations set forth in the 2010 California Building Code (CBC), and the accessibility requirements in the CBC while in conformance with the ADA, in some instances are more stringent. As with all of our Projects, the plans for this project were submitted for approval to the compliance unit within the Division of the State Architect (DSA). We received such approval prior to construction.

Despite receiving such approval, the safety and concern for all of the visitors to the Courthouse is paramount for the Judicial Council of California, as well as the local Court. Prior to establishing the parking lots that you describe, much effort was made to determine that their location and path of travel was as close as possible to the entrance to the Courthouse. Obviously, as in many downtown areas, there is a limit to the number of sites available. In the case of this project we were able to find sites that did provide a path of travel over new and existing sidewalks. Unfortunately, we did not control or have the ability to clear a path of travel through the Railroad Museum site, contiguous to the northern boundary of what you refer to as “Lot A”.

However, notwithstanding the above DSA approval, and in support of making accessible accommodations as convenient as possible, we are in the process of adding one van accessible space parking space in “Lot A”. We also requested the City of Woodland Public Works Department to review the placing of stop signs at Sixth Street and Lincoln. After completing an engineering study, they have installed a stop sign at that location. We are also in the process of placing signage directing the pedestrian path of travel to hopefully preempt jaywalking. Other potential parking spaces are dependent on their availability and the City of Woodland’s enforcement policies over which we have no control.

Again, thank you for your interest in this matter and we will advise you when the additional space is available.

Sincerely,

Loren “Mike” Smith, Project Manager

Judicial Council of California

MS/sme

Cc:

Honorable Kathleen M. White, Presiding Judge, Yolo County Superior Court

Mr. Shawn C. Landry, Court Executive Officer, Yolo County Superior Court

Mr. Matt Rexroad, Chairman, Yolo County Board of Supervisors

Mr. Patrick S. Blacklock, County Administrator, Yolo County

Mr. Tom Stallard, Mayor, City of Woodland

Mr. Paul Navazio, City Manager, City of Woodland

Mr. Martin Hoshino, Administrative Director, Judicial Council of California

Mr. Bill Guerin, Director, Capital Programs, Judicial Council of California

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September 2016
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