Monday, October 31, 2005

Dear Public Servants: Remember Me?

I'm a taxpayer. I know that you probably get tired of hearing this one but I think I pay your salary. Sure, you spend a lot of time with the movers and shakers of the development world and they're probably a lot more interesting than I am but you're still supposed to be looking out for me. Maybe we should meet for lunch and get acquainted?

sincerely, Jane Q

Witness this "grassroots effort" by Westpac and the way that our public servants can be invited to private strategy sessions while the public is locked out of the process.

Carol is the project manager for the huge urban-style project being proposed in Templeton and has often made claims of a desire to involve the public in this process in a "grassroots" way. Names of county officials have been changed to protect...the names of county officials. The county tried to submit the project with a negative declaration based on a traffic assessment that is incompetent at best.

From: "planner A"
Subject: Traffic Meeting; Westpac
Date: October 25, 2005 2:10:01 PM PDT
To: (carol's e-mail)

I have a request from 2 members of the public (Korie Bayer and Jane Q) to attend the meeting on Thursday regarding traffic. Since Oasis and Associates is hosting the meeting I indicated to them that it wasn't appropriate for me to invite them.

Please send an email to Korie indicating whether or not they can attend. Thanks for you cooperation.

"Planner A"
Planner, Inland/Environmental Division
San Luis Obispo County

Subject: Westpac Traffic Meeting
Date: October 27, 2005 1:50:45 PM PDT
To: Carol's address

Dear Ms. Florence,

I have received your voicemail regarding the traffic meeting that you have arranged for today, October 27, with regard to the Ramada Project. I understand that this meeting will be attended by Caltrans, SLOCOG, a representative from the Department of Planning and Building, and a representative from the Department of Public Works as well as other agencies.

I also understood you to say that the purpose of this meeting is to ensure that all parties are "on the same page" on this issue. What I am having trouble understanding is your unwillingness to submit to our request to observe this meeting.

As you are aware, Citizens concerned for Templeton's Future has submitted a request for review of the mitigated negative declaration submitted for this project. A major concern with regard to our request for an EIR is that the traffic impacts will be tremendous and unmitigable. The previous traffic study has been found to be grossly inadequate and the models for the calculations are very unclear.

As it is our hope that we be "on the same page" as well, it makes no sense that Westpac is unwilling to allow us to attend. It also runs counter to the stated claim, as quoted in the Paso Robles Press, that it is your desire to involve the citizens of the community on a "grass roots level."

Please clarify your position on this matter. Your concern that the details of this meeting will "not be helpful" to us due to the "very technical issues" involved has been noted but I would respectfully disagree and submit that it is exactly these technicalities that we should all be allowed to understand. I am sure that Westpac shares in our desire to achieve transparency in this process.

Thank you for your consideration,

Korie Bayer, Templeton

(no reply received)

From: high-ranking county
Subject: Re: Urgent - Meeting today
Date: October 27, 2005 11:32:01 AM PDT
Cc: planner A and other high-ranking county officials

Ms. Bayer:
Thank you for your email regarding an inquiry into a meeting scheduled for today. I did some checking and was informed that the meeting you are referencing was initiated by a private party--in this case the applicants agent--and the meeting is not a county meeting.

Since an applicant or agent can convene meetings and extend invitations to who ever they want, I don't have the authority to override their action. I also understand that Mr. A informed you that he would forward any relevant information from the meeting on to you.

-- High-Ranking County Official

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