READER’S EDITORIAL: AN OPEN LETTER TO SUPERVISORS ON BEHALF OF RURAL RESIDENTS

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Editor’s note: On March 28 at 9 .a.m. the San Diego Board of Supervisors will vote on recommendations made by its Red Tape Reduction Task Force, including potentially eliminating or weakening community planning groups, as well as eliminating the county’s Resource Protection Ordinance. 
 
By Patsy Fritz, Pauma Valley
 
Dear Chairman Roberts and Honorable Members of the Board:
 
March 27, 2012 (San Diego)--Wednesday you will consider the final recommendations of the Red Tape Reduction Task Force.  Many concern the continuity of Planning and Sponsor Groups as we know them today: an integral part of the development process.  It’s a way the County reaches out to its far-flung rural communities – some a two hour drive from the County Administration Center.  I DO NOT WANT THE COUNTY TO LOSE THESE SOLID “CIVIC SERVANTS.”
 
I ask your support to retain Planning Groups, WITH the legal protections that County indemnification provides.  I support Term Limits of two 4-year terms, separated by a 2-year hiatus.
 
In a nutshell, here are my views on the remaining elements of RTRTF:
 
1)   In this truly vast County, Planning and Sponsor Groups are a significant government outreach. Planning Group members are, literally, “the boots on the ground.” Locals talk to them. You don’t WANT community input?
 
2)   The indemnification cost is a red herring.  After two months now, that fish, to quote the immortal word of Ron Roberts from March 2, 2011: “stinks.”  Here’s the record: legal cost per Planning Group member, averaged over the past 12 years is $16.37 a year.  (All my data is from County Counsel). What does $16.37 buy?   At $250/hr (County’s full cost recovery rate) you’d get 3 minutes and 55 seconds of legal counsel.  
 
3)   In 12 years, all 296 Planning and Sponsor group members, together,
cost the County less in legal fees than Bill Horn’s infamous Vinsconi litigations.
4)   Without indemnification, only developer shills or somebody with the brain of a slug would serve on a Planning Group.   No indemnification = NO Planning Groups, AND EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS!  (Even the slugs.)
5)   Yes, term limits have merit – but not a limit of 4 years.  The first 4 years just gives them basic working experience – these are huge geographic areas. There’s little “calcification” among Planning Groups – the reverse
is true – not easy to keep new members: hard work, no pay. So, yes to
8 successive years: TWO 4-year terms, followed by a 2 year break.
 
6)   Proposing that a Senior Planner and County Counsel attend Planning Group Meetings is another really, smelly red herring.  It’s obviously designed to run up the cost to such stratospheric levels that you’ll shrink from it – and choose to cancel indemnification.  Dump this ploy, please!
 
7)   Proposing developer dog & pony shows (“Public Participation Plan”)
to inform communities is a re-hash of the infamous “Star Wars” that Stonegate put on for your Board -  and then kept changing the density and design.  No more SHOW BIZ from developers!  We want THE TRUTH.
We get it from DPLU and Planning Groups.  We’re sick of being lied to!  We want respect for the General Plan.
 
8)   “Residential Design Standards” have NOT yet been proposed.  Let this process go forward with full scrutiny. Site standards are essential to Conservation Subdivisions, a new concept in our General Plan.  Let this come back to your Board for review after the work has been vetted by the Planning Commission.  Please do not abort this process.
 
9)   Trashing the Resource Protection Ordinance is what Ron Roberts swore last year would NOT happen:  “We’re not talking about exempting rules or regulations.”  The RPO is an Ordinance, not to be casually tossed. 
Our region’s ridges and mountains have NO protection against dynamite and bulldozers in any State or Federal regulation.  Our granite hills and ridges are 70% silica.  When granite is blasted those microscopic shards float freely in “silica plumes,” too fine for the human eye to detect.  They set down within a mile or so, but any breeze kicks them up again. 

While airborne, we breathe them.  The razor-sharp shards are too fine to be coughed out – the lungs do not recognize any burden.  So they remain, embedded within the alveoli, which form scar tissue to protect themselves from the silica points (this isn’t like sand, that gets rounded by water action – these are blasted shards). 

Eventually, the tough scar tissue causes the alveoli to lose their elasticity. Lung function is diminished, then destroyed – although the heart usually fails first.  It just can’t pump well enough to make up for the increased labor of breathing.  Silicosis is a twenty-year death, “drowning in air” when you can’t empty your lungs.

Honorable Supervisors, don’t destroy the RPO.  Please.  We need to breathe.  All the facets of the RPO make San Diego County the place where we love to live.  And hope to live, for the full span of our lives …

 
The decision is yours.  I ask you to consider our rural communities, where families have put down roots, invested their futures, and value their Planning Groups, meeting on home ground with their neighbors. 
It’s the best way to coordinate community input, sent for your review.
 
With hope and thanks,
                                         Patsy Fritz
 

The views expressed in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org 

Comments

On behalf of...

Although I would never stop anyone from presenting their views, when you purport to represent me also, then you go too far. The local planning groups have serious problems that you refuse to address, not the least of which is that they also say they are the voice of the people...when in fact, they represent their own interests. Unless there is a major overhaul, then they should be abolished. County staff can schedule hearings in the local areas to get local input without the filter of local planning groups.