By Mary Ella Anderson (written May 20th)
Yesterday’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting on the GPU – specifically Open Spaces, was not very well attended, although the environmentalists outnumbered the realtor/developer contingent by a wide margin.
Quite unexpectedly, Supervisor Ryan Sundberg played a recorded phone message from an outraged constituent making the point that he had not been truthful in saying that trails were not protected and fully supported in the plan. This is true, as the language was changed by the Planning Commission to water down the strong version presented in the 2012 version. But Sundberg apparently wanted to vent his frustration at being criticized with anger by a constituent and so played her phone message for everyone to hear. His fellow board members, at least Fennel, Bass and Bohn, got a good laugh out of hit, as did Tina Christenson and Kent Sawatsky.
I personally felt offended by Suindberg’s decision to ridicule someone who disagreed with him. It’s the first I’ve ever seen such a thing in those chambers. Mostly the people who have sat in those seats have done their best to maintain decorum under some very trying circumstances. After all, isn’t it part of the job to listen to feedback and treat everyone with courtesy? That was my perception of the responsibility one takes on when one becomes a supervisor. Perhaps I was wrong to think so.
In any case, they did pass some revised language about trails, not as strong as the 2012 version, but all in all it could have been worse.
Something reminiscent of the haggling over where or not the Supervisors needed to express their support for Landlords Rights being equal to Tenant Rights arose in connection with trails, as it appears there is much fear in the hinterlands about the use of “eminent domain” to seize private property to build trails. The Four Reactionaries on the board were insistent that the Open Space element needed to express strong support for “Private Property Rights.” Without reassurances, it was felt that property owners would live in fear trespasser and usurpers and seizures by government entities. Of course there is a body of law that deals with trespass and victims of trespass can call law enforcement and have trespasser removed and prosecuted.
Counsel Ruth intervened to say that private property rights “means different things to different people.” As will trespass, there is a whole body of law regarding property – its sale, purchase, use and so on, and one must question what the whole issue is doing in the GPU. I question it anyway. Sundberg suggested that the staff add Private Property Rights to the glossary that will be added to the finished document. Staff asked for direction. After much discussion, he agreed that the best definition would be Ruth’s “different things to different people.”
There was also a long discussion about hazards such as earthquakes, fires, floods, and so on, that was way more convoluted than it needed to be. Remarks made by Bass as to where other parts of the document covered these topics made me wonder if any of them had actually sat down and read the entire document. One gets the impression that they haven’t read anything ahead of time and are just winging it, based on whatever phone calls they got from the people they trust. Perhaps they didn’t realize that this six figure salary job would require so much reading, and then being subjected to irate tirades on top of that must have seemed like just too much.
Jon, if I’m posting here too much let me know. I’m just a compulsive writer.