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.
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.