YOLO SUN OPINION :
Succinctly stated, current Woodland Mayor Skip Davies simply requested that City Manager Paul Navazio assist Paul Petrovich’s Starbuck’s project.
That was where the colorful trouble began, trouble which suddenly boiled over before the Planning Commission on April 18 and is set for full-scale eruption on April 25, at another – especially arranged – meeting.
Citizens might indeed wonder how a city mayor can behave in such a corrupt and biased manner, or question how a city manager would be so intimidated to go along with this corrupt behavior — but then again, this is Woodland.
Being from Davis, though, Navazio is likely not well enough acquainted with Woodland’s historically corrupted political styles.
Legal counsel for (adjacent) Burger King, opposing Petrovich’s Starbuck’s project (Timothy Taylor, of Stoel Rives, LLP, a large multi-state law firm), has on April 18 written to Woodland Planning Commission that:
“[T]he City must [now] commit to an unbiased project review without developer favoritism and hints of back room cronyism that unfortunately have tainted this application to date.”
Burger King’s counsel also writes that the city must: “[R]ectify [an unlawful] gift of public funds” (detailed below).
This means that Petrovich must pay the city back for something he initially refused to pay for: traffic circulation and parking analyses for his project. These analyses support conclusions directly against Petrovich’s interest. What real chance is there that he will pay the city back?
Davies seems to believe the city can do anything it wants — until it gets sued — and should squander city staff and resources toward such improper ends.
City managers, of course, serve at the utter pleasure and discretion of the city council. Davies and only two cohorts could remove Navazio and he is obviously aware of that grim circumstance. When the mayor requests that the city manager do something for Petrovich, fix things for Petrovich, this is easily taken as an order, despite any later, adverse consequences.
[Editor’s note: Part One of this series was published on February 21, 2013 and is only a few articles below on this scroll. ]
___ What Navazio Has Done ___
Firstly, Navazio over-ruled a generally held city planning staff opinion that a more comprehensive environmental review is required for Petrovich’s Starbuck’s project — than Petrovich is willing to admit or permit.
Navazio demanded this project receive an exemption from environmental review, for which it clearly did not deserve; since, city planning staff’s view was later plainly upheld by “substantial evidence” through expert analyses.
Secondly, Navazio approved what is described by legal counsel for Burger King as — “a gift of public funds” — which is clearly illegal under state law. Counsel for Burger King persuasively outlines in legal detail this unlawful situation.
Petrovich was adamant that he would not pay for obviously needed traffic circulation and parking studies for his Starbuck’s project, and he would not submit his project application until the city paid this (private developer) cost — so Navazio used city funds (~$5,640) for this unlawful purpose.
Thirdly, after city planning staff decided that it did not yet possess the legal advice from the city attorney that it believed was needed to competently proceed — and thus prudently rescheduled the hearing on Petrovich’s project for a month — Navazio intervened, demanding that Woodland Planning Commission meet anyway and hold the originally scheduled hearing on April 18.
___ Hearing Still Postponed, But Only By A Week ___
Due to these strange scheduling problems and the fact that the relevant material (157 pages) was not timely disseminated because of this (suddenly reversed) postponement, as well as accusations by counsel for Burger King of potential due process violations, Woodland Planning Commission could not in good faith even move forward to a project hearing on April 18, despite Navazio’s insistence.
Petrovich’s project was the only agenda item, so it was truly a strain to discover any good / proper reason for this meeting which Navazio had demanded be held.
Several planning commissioners offered some comments about their various concerns regarding the project, in order to best use this misfired meeting to some fashion of advantage and that city planning staff might then have time to respond with informed and prepared advice.
However, another reason Navazio intervened to demand the planning commission meet and this hearing convene partially confounded – even this useful advantage — since the planning commission was simultaneously flummoxed by Petrovich’s (obviously bogus) appeal for great haste — because of some issue over Starbuck’s lease with the Raley’s grocery store at Main Street and Road 98.
Even if it proceeds with city approval, this project will be tied-up in court — for years. Thus, Starbuck’s lease is totally irrelevant to these matters. However, the planning commission still decided that it had better convene a special meeting on April 25 to consider Petrovich’s project.
Woodland Community Development Director, Nick Ponticello, strongly argued that city planning staff would not have time to properly respond to immediately expressed concerns of planning commissioners — if the meeting would be only a week away.
But anyway, bullied by Petrovich’s bullshit, a majority of the planning commission (Commissioners Holt and Lopez dissenting, and Commissioner Murphy looking like he wanted to) decided that a very special meeting must indeed be convened to prevent Petrovich from having to wait another three weeks for a project hearing.
So, Navazio demanding that the Planning Commission convene on April 18 presented the chance for Petrovich to gain three weeks in his quest, as well as unlawfully receiving city funds and adjusted environmental review for this purpose.
As requested by Davies, Navazio did his city manager duty and assisted Petrovich’s project — to what end appears certain: extended litigation and a large-scale squandering of municipal resources.
Instead of working on the General Plan Update, city planning staff are spending their time spinning the city’s wheels to assist Petrovich’s crazy misadventures.
All this occurs, because Davies — improperly — asked Navazio to help Petrovich with his Starbuck’s project. Stay tuned for Part Three of this series, which will cover the special April 25 Planning Commission hearing and Navazio’s condition.