First, I want to announce that the board of commissioners approved the tentative map of Ascente last night 5-1. Many of you have expressed your dismay and frustration. More still have suggested that they have heard this is a “done deal”. We need to remember that this is the BEGINNING of a LONG process and we have many roads ahead of us. We are at a disadvantage of not knowing the system as well as the developer, and have many more moving parts where unilateral decisions cannot be made. We need to stick together. With that being said, I have some personal thoughts I would like to share.
First, I am proud to stand with all of you. The show you put on last night was unbelievable. Given the outcome, I’m not sure how this comment will play for you, but the county made numerous comments that this was the most organized and we thought presentation from residents they’ve ever seen. I know that that might frustrate you more given that many of feel like you weren’t heard, but I see this a different way.
I believe we were heard. And we HAVE made a difference. I disagree with the commissioner’s assessment that they didn’t need more conditions (more on that later), but if we’re honest, they asked pointed, tough questions of the county planning staff and the developer. However, this is a spot where the system doesn’t help us. We didn’t get a chance to respond to those questions or the developer’s responses. The developer’s people are paid well to do a specific job, and they are really good at it. They were able to redirect and explain away a lot of issues.
As suggested by many, I did not feel that the commissioners were “against us” or that they were paid off. I, again, don’t agree with all their assessments, but let’s remember a few things about this process. It sounds like most of them heard this information for the first time. The only one that took the time to understand this proposal ahead of time, our representative Michael Lawson, was the only dissenting vote. This was his first meeting, and I hope the system doesn’t wear down his vigilance. For the rest of them, the point is they heard over 4 HOURS of testimony before deliberation. I was actually extremely impressed at their ability to retain information and ask good questions at the end. The problem is, with that amount of info flying at them, many of the points we have ground to stand on were lost in the shuffle, or directed away from by the developer’s spokesperson. We need to re-double our efforts at this point to make sure we re-iterate the points we feel were over looked.
Let’s please remember, this was the TENTATIVE MAP process. The ONLY thing they needed to address is if this met minimum code. We have a few points where we disagree that it does, but a vast majority of our concerns are things that need to be addressed by our elected commissioner Bob Lucey, not the appointed officials. As pointed out, this is not the end, but the beginning of a long process meant to wear us down. There are many more meetings to be had. And, as the commissioners pointed out, many more changes and conditions to be made. We cannot fade away now.
In reference to those that heard comments from certain representatives that “this is a done deal”. Remember, this is coming from the developer. They are trying to get us to give up. They are working the system. The first plan they submitted was purposefully bad. They made as many obvious mistakes as possible so they could get “community input” and respond to the low hanging fruit, that way they could bring the real “plan A” to the county and be able to say, “look at all the changes we made for the residents”. They are on to plan B right now because of us. They don’t want us to force them any further down the alphabet. They need us to quit. There is no better way to promote apathy than to skew the results of the process to instill the myth that there is no fight to be had. We may not win the war, but we can win more battles, and we can make them bloody as hell. Let’s win the battles and protect what we can protect.
I call on all of you to rededicate and to take heart in your achievements to this point. We have a lot to discuss over the next few days, and some sleep to catch up on. We will respond to everyone about next steps and where this process takes us.
Right now, I need anyone with writing and administrative talents to come forward and help us organize this monster. I personally cannot keep this pace up and that’s what they are counting on. I am also going to be out of country for a lot of the next month or two, and that’s a lot of man hours for Ken and Todd to lose in this battle.
Remember, there are more battles to win. We need the troops to rally. Stay vigilant, stay strong, stay connected. You will hear from me again before the end of the week.
P.S. As always, please direct people to the mailing list on the website… at this point it is a communication tool. It doesn’t provide a lot of information to newcomers, but it is the easiest and best way for me to keep everyone up to date on the process and to communicate as a group. I can’t stress enough how vital this is as a tool to cut down on the amount of communication work we have to do.