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Monday, July 16, 2007

County Board of Supervisor's Meeting Format Draws Frustration as Showdown Nears

As the city of Davis and Yolo County brace for a potential showdown on Tuesday over three proposed "special study areas" on the Davis periphery which have been proposed for inclusion in the Yolo County General Plan Update, one side issue that has angered many has been the scheduling format that has been laid out by the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, or more to the point, the lack of a scheduling format.

The way things stand now, the board is prepared to hear each of the localities' plan individually and make a determination as to what to do on staff recommendations. The meeting is set to start at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 17, 2007. It would then run until lunch and break. Then the board would take up regular business at 1:30 until they concluded that business. Upon completion of that business, they would resume discussion on the General Plan Update.

Previously in February, the meeting ran until 11 pm. The format has caused a number of inconveniences to citizens and also localities who are affected by the proposed developments.

First, the county cannot pinpoint a time when a given localities proposals will appear on the agenda. That means that citizens planning to speak either have to stay all day or coordinate with others as to when to appear.

Moreover, representatives from the localities have work commitments and in the case of the city of Davis, a full blown city council meeting that evening.

The board meets during the day, meaning that people who work are often unable to go to these meetings. This may not seem like a big deal, but it gives an advantage to developers who have their representatives paid to be at the meeting, but not citizens who have to work.

People who cannot stay all day are thus left to guess as to when their item comes before the board of supervisors.

This entire set up seems un-democratic and to discourage rather than encourage participation. It does not make sense for the county to be taking up other business along side the general plan discussion. Moreover, it would make more sense to take up a few proposals at a time, so that everyone knows when their city or location will come up and can plan accordingly.

For items like this, it would make more sense to schedule an evening meeting, where they could take up four to six proposals at a time, discuss them within a period of time, and then have a series of these meetings.

The tension is especially high at this point because the perceived stakes are also high. The county is proposing three large areas on Davis' periphery be placed into "special study areas." As much as that is causing large concern, no one is exactly sure what this means--whether they go into the county's general plan EIR or whether that means a separate process is about to begin to study these areas and determine whether they should be entitled and their land use designation changed.

Regardless, this fight can be stopped tomorrow. The prognosis of this is clear--if the county votes against studying these three areas on Davis' periphery, the proposal dies. If however, the county votes to study these three areas on Davis' periphery, the fighting and war of words that we have seen this past week is just the beginning.

Efforts are presently underway to launch a recall effort if this process moves forward to a point where a single-vote of the board would lead to a land-use designation change. However, everyone seems hopeful that such a last resort can be avoided. Tomorrow's meeting will go a long way toward resolving precisely that question.

The Vanguard will be there--blogging live

The People's Vanguard of Davis will be at the meeting, blogging live with updates about progress and proposals that have come forward. Citizens of Davis should stay tuned and the Vanguard will provide them with a ballpark as to when the county will take on the issues for discussion on the "study areas" on the periphery of the city of Davis and alert them as to when the County begins discussion on the Davis items. Citizens who wish to address the board of supervisors, will have time to get up to Woodland and come speak at that point in time. Stay logged into the Vanguard for wall-to-wall coverage and breaking news of key events with regards to the General Plan Update as they happen.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting