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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Questioning Changes in Yamada's Votes On Two Development Projects

On February 6, 2007 the Yolo County Board of Supervisors met for the entire day to discuss the Yolo County Planning Commission's recommendations and supplemental staff recommendations for the general plan update.

Included in there was a recommendation to produce massive developments in Dunnigan and a substantial development in Knights Landing.

The Dunnigan specific plan calls for 1995 acres of development for 7500 homes and 230 acres of commercial and industrial. That number was raised from the original proposal of 2500 new residential units.

The Knights landing specific plan calls for 145 acres and up to 800 homes with an additional 38 acres for commercial and industrial development. The staff recommendation at the time was to reduce the number to 650 lots but it was eventually passed for 800 homes.

At the February 6, 2007 Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Yamada cast a no vote for both projects. The Knights Landing project passed by a 3-2 vote with Yamada and Chamberlain voting no.

However, at the July 17, 2007 Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Yamada voted yes for both projects, even though the facts involved were essentially identical. Moreover, the yes vote on the Knights Landing project passed by a 3-2 margin, making her vote the decisive vote. Supervisor Matt Rexroad had switched his initial "yes" vote to a "no" vote out of concerns that the development was in an area prone to flooding.

These votes are highlighted because the financial disclosure for Supervisor Mariko Yamada's State Assembly Race has come out.

In that disclosure we see that the developers for both projects gave her substantial contributions. Miksal, is associated with the developer involved with the Dunnigan Hills agricultural project donated Yamada $1000 on June 30, 2007, just two and a half weeks prior to the Board of Supervisors meeting.

Meanwhile Castle Development has donated another $1000 to Yamada on June 29, 2007. Castle Development is the developer working on the Knights Landing development.

Given the realities of campaign finance, it is often necessary to take development money in order to finance campaigns that are going to run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars if not higher. However, the rule of thumb has to be that you must be able to insulate yourself from charges that the money is influencing your votes.

Based on the facts alone we cannot make that determination, all we can do is ask the question—other than receiving a campaign contribution did anything else change between February’s vote and July’s vote and what caused Supervisor Yamada to switch from opposing both developments to supporting both developments?

The Vanguard will in the future be looking at the financial disclosure of West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon to see where his money is coming from. Likely we will see a slew of development interests there as well.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting