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Opinion: The Shadelands Sham

A closer look at a 'community-driven' process for a Specific Plan.

By Justin Wedel

On Aug. 2, the City Council supported the pre-application for a General Plan amendment for 2800 Ygnacio Valley Road, thus creating a Specific Plan process and a committee tasked with recommending what, if any, zoning changes should be allowed on this site.
 
During the Council’s consideration of the amendment, the community was told that we were tasked with “thinking outside of the box” during this “community-driven process.” However, it seems that the assigned committee members from the Council have an agenda that is not community-driven at all.
 
During the second meeting of the specific plan, Kish Rajan, the current Mayor Pro-Tem, surprised all in attendance when he announced the actual purpose of the Specific Plan was to create something that was in the “economic interest of Safeway” rather than something that the community actually desires. Current Mayor Bob Simmons' silence confirmed that this was the true intent of the committee. The final confirmation of this came during the Feb. 7 City Council meeting when Mr. Rajan’s statements were essentially restated by City Staff at the end of public communications.

At this particular meeting, I addressed the City Council regarding Mr. Rajan’s comments and the seeming lack of community emphasis in this supposedly community-driven process. In an attempt to clarify the true objective, I requested that the Gateway Specific Plan receive a publicly accessible charter that states whether this is either a community project open to any and all ideas -- which was approved by the City Council -- or whether the committee is tasked with ensuring the “economic interest” of the applicant. Sadly, this request was not honored.
 
I believe the community is willing to have an open and honest discussion about any and all possibilities for this site. Personally, I would love to see something done at this location as long as it is in the best interest of the community or if it meets current zoning regulations. However, this must truly be a community-driven process. I call on our City Council to actually honor their commitment to the community, yet I hold little hope that this will actually occur.

In the end, this is yet another – in a very long line — of divide-and-conquer tactics orchestrated by the City Council over the past few years. Tactics designed to pit our community against each other just long enough to divert our attention from, amongst other things, their failed attempts to make the Shadelands a successful business park, their massive overspending, our crippling capital expenditure shortfalls, and their inability to provide leadership on how we are going to get out of the financial mess they have created.

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