Sex And The County
Marriage Made in Hell: GPU3, Version II: Back to the Future.
Thursday, June 10, 2004
It’s June and weddings are in the air. The girl reporter’s social calendar looks like a travel ad in Bride magazine. Laura and Kelby invite you to celebrate their eternal love at a rustic barn-house near Denver, to sip chardonnay against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. The bride wore a white strapless Monique Lhuillier, and the groom wore…a black tux?
Jenny and Matt in Napa; Nathan and Lindsey in Portland; Karen and Chris at Willamette Valley Vineyards.
And so, as she walked up the courthouse stairs to attend yet another General Plan Update meeting, the girl reporter daydreamed about love and marriage (and about what she would wear to these blessed occasions—a black BCBG slip dress? Or a pink Betsey Johnson?).
And she wondered: If two people can beat the odds and pledge before family, friends and the Rockies to spend the rest of their lives together, isn’t there some hope that the disparate groups involved in the contentious General Plan process can kiss and make up, and promise from this day forward to work together?
Nah. The girl reporter may be a romantic, but she’s not stupid. Her scant naïveté was burst two weeks ago, when the Board of Supes was slated to begin its formal review of GPU3, and Supervisor Edith Johnsen made a motion to flush the 20-year growth document down the loo—and her motion carried by a 3-2 vote.
Today, County Counsel Charles McKee will tell the board that he will work with Planning Department staff to prepare a new draft document. McKee estimates this new plan will require an additional 16 months and as much as $980,000, on top of the five years and $5 million already spent.
At about 3:30 in the afternoon Tuesday, McKee presents his report to the board. The next step, as outlined, is to analyze the 1982 General Plan to determine which policies worked and which didn’t.
Wait a minute, wasn’t this one of the first tasks completed by ex-GPU staffer Sarah Hardgrave three years ago? It was.
But apparently that doesn’t matter to this Board of Supes, despite the county’s shortage of both money and planners. Maybe they can outsource, thinks the girl reporter. Possibly hire land use attorneys Lombardo & Gilles to ghostwrite a new plan? It’ll be like the old days.
Steps Two and Three, according to McKee’s report, call for reconciling old policies “with key components of GPU3, Planning Commission recommendations and public comments.” Okay, whatever. Step Four, however, is the girl reporter’s fave, hands down: “Meetings with key stakeholders on issues.” This recalls the so-called Refinement Committee, the cast of last year’s drama, and we all know how well that search for consensus worked out.
McKee’s only doing what the board told him to. And he can be kinda funny and charming, she thinks.
“The General Plan Update Guiding Principles are intended to guide the staff on process and content,” McKee says. “I was thinking of calling it ‘Rules of Engagement,’” he quips. “But then people would think I was declaring war.”
“I want to thank [Planning Director] Scott Hennessey for offering his services and his department’s services,” McKee says. “And particularly for helping me rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic as we go forward.”
Yes, he’s a funny guy.
Then McKee reiterates that the projections are only estimates. Again, funny.
As usual, the pro-development types—who insist they are speaking for the little people in the community who couldn’t take time off from picking lettuce to attend the meeting—commend the Supes for having the courage to change course, stop the plan and throw $5 million out the window.
(But really, thinks the girl reporter, it’s the attorneys and paid consultants who should be commended: for staying on message for five years and convincing the board that GPU3 would ensure that not one additional bathroom would ever be built again in Monterey County.)
Lee Lotz, a self-described “concerned citizen” wearing a navy polo and Levi’s, shows the Supes a home made slide show, outlining the strategies used in defeating the plan. “The first one,” he says, “is the strategy of wear them down. The other strategy I’ve seen is ‘take it out of the public view.’ The third one, I’m not going to say anything about it.” He projects a dollar sign onto the overhead screen.
Lotz’ wife, Paula Lotz, representing the 800-member Carmel Valley Association, “re-reminds” the board of “the rule of participation,” and holds up five huge cardboard placards listing every single public meeting devoted to the General Plan Update, beginning on Nov. 16, 1999 and ending 83 meetings later, on May 25, 2004. “Don’t forget we’ve already participated,” she says.
Finally four Supervisors vote to move ahead with McKee’s suggestions. (Supervisor Dave Potter, who also sits on the state Coastal Commission, left early to catch a flight to attend the commission’s meeting, saying “I don’t want the press to think I’m chicken.”)
“As chair of this body, I am obliged to move forward with the decision of this body,” Calcagno says. “You have to move forward with a positive upbeat. It’s my duty to move forward with the team.”
Yes, thinks the girl reporter, they have tied the knot.