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Letter Critical of Sonoma County’s General Plan Update Process

To: Greg Carr
Cc: Supervisor Mike Reilly; Sonoma County Planning Commission; Sonoma
Wildlife; Bob Gaiser
Subject: GP2020 Biotic Resource Revisions and Regrets

Greg-

After spending all those long hours with you and others at the Riparian Corridors/Biological Habitat Subcommittee meetings for the purpose of developing policy recommendations for GP2020, you can guess how utterly dismayed and disappointed I am in what is being presented as “draft text changes” for the Planning Commissions/Board of Sups approval. Although the County encouraged public participation during the CAC meetings and the GP Update process as required by CEQA, the publics hard work and long hours were mostly for naught.

During the CAC meetings in 2002 and 2003, those of us who participated were required to support and document our recommendations with articles and research that supported the proposed policies. The County hired a biological expert who recommended even more protective policies for streams and wetlands than what was ultimately approved by the Subcommittee. Rand Dericco, the head of the Subcommittee, represented the grape growers and agriculture. He regularly weighed in on policy language changes. Even still, the recommended policy language produced during the 2002 and 2003 CAC meetings has been thrown out and red-lined in the “draft text changes”.

I find it unfair that the individuals who opposed the CAC draft recommendations were not required to produce any documentation to support their recommendations for creeks, streams and wetlands . For example, a man who sat next to me at the Planning Commission public hearing in July 2006 held a single postcard from “Realtors” warning him about violation of his property rights. He and I spoke before the public hearing and I told him about the CAC meetings. He and his wife said they were “too busy” to attend any meetings. His knowledge of the subject material and the County’s process was extremely limited. He was surprised to see that I had a full 3- inch binder from my involvement with the Riparian Corridor/Biological Habitat Subcommittee meetings. During the public hearing he threatened to sue the County. He provided no information during hearing to support his recommendation to leave “everything the same” as the current GP. To my knowledge, he and others who opposed the CAC recommendations were never asked to provide information to show that current GP policy will protect and sustain our biological resources for the next 20 years. In the end, the County listened to him and others and ignored the hard work, documentation and deliberations of the CAC.

Next time, if the County is going to allow GP policy language to be written by an angry mob who are not required to provide documentation to support the policy, please don’t waste my time and the good faith efforts of others on meetings and a process that the County won’t strongly support and that ends up accomplishing nothing. This is not a good way to run government. I think the County should require participation in the Biotic Resources CAC by all parties, so that the draft policy recommended by the CAC can’t just be red-lined like it was for GP2020.

The County should fully SUPPORT the recommendations of the CAC Subcommittee. Please don’t repeat what happened this year on future GPs. I feel the process was very unfair and I would be hesitant to participate again unless an effort to bring all parties to the table was made. I do not hold out any hope that the draft text policy language for riparian and wetlands will sustain or protect these resources into the next 20 years.

Regards and regrets.

Jo Bentz