[FLASH!! DDR will spend over a million dollars to kill our downtown! They have spent $800,000 so far according to the Press Democrat. That's 10 to 1 spending against our local citizens and local democracy. Vote NO on A. -DS]
Letters to the UDJ
From BARRY VOGEL
Running up the score
If you haven’t voted “No” on Measure A yet, Here’s why you should, now:
1. If Measure A passes, no environmental local regulation or control will be necessary for anything that is built on the old Masonite property by the current or any future owner.
2. If Measure A passes, the old Masonite property will be sold. “Everything is for sale,” Jeff Adams, the project director for DDR said at the October 8, 2009 debate on the merits of Measure A. Scott Wolstein, DDR’s top boss may be seen on http://www.reit.com stating that due to its economic condition, “DDR will not build any new projects.” DDR stock had a value of $74 per share in 2006 which dropped to $1.50 in March 2009 and was then declared ”junk” by respected organizations that value stock.
3. If Measure A passes, the so called “mixed-use” zoning would give the owner unlimited and uncontrolled choice and discretion on what is built or done there. DDR rendered its so called “specific plan” meaningless when it repeats, over 80 times, that the “plan is conceptual only and subject to change according to regional and market conditions.” Further no owner, present or future will have any responsibility to pay any consequences of what is built there.
4. If Measure A passes, all surrounding road work and public safety costs would be paid with county money leaving no funds for our already neglected roads and public safety needs everywhere else in Mendocino County.
5. DDR and Mendocino County Tomorrow, the local group it supports report they spend $514,871.89 as of September 19, 2009, on their campaign. All the money came from DDR; no local money.
6. There are no “yes” yard signs. No one wants one. All DDR can do is send glossy mailers and make meaningless promises on radio and TV.
7. DDR doesn’t give a rodent’s posterior about Mendocino County or we who live here.
8. If you don’t vote No on Measure A, who will?
Bad, bad deal
From Guinness McFadden
There was an interesting letter to the editor in the Saturday, Oct. 17 UDJ from Shelley Alameda/Fahy deploring the fact the State of California is borrowing gas tax money from Mendocino County that is supposed to go towards County road repair. She has a right to be upset.
“What has this to do with Measure A?” you might ask? It has plenty to do with Measure A. We all know of the difficult economic times we’re in. Timber companies over cut our forests and thousands of well paying jobs are lost, the housing bubble burst, etc. Statewide, things are just as bad with unemployment topping 12 percent. The State has no money to maintain its responsibilities for roads, highways, infrastructure, etc.
Now along comes DDR and its monster mall plan at the old Masonite site. Even with a three to two majority on the County Board of Supervisors – who were strongly in favor of their project – DDR realized that its plan couldn’t stand the scrutiny of an objective EIR that would have looked into issues like traffic, water availability, air pollution, ground contamination, and urban decay that might result from 800,000 square feet of retail space, and 150 living units. So they went through the phony motions of submitting incomplete applications to the County Planning Department. County Planning returned the applications two times citing specifics deficiencies and inviting discussion with DDR’s representatives. DDR chose not to involve itself, and instead went about gathering signatures to put a measure on the ballot to “Clean up the Masonite site.” DDR fully well knowing that a zoning change (which is only part of what Measure A contains) brought about via an initiative is exempt from CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) and therefore no EIR is applicable. That’s right, folks! No EIR applies! It’s California law.
Oh, DDR sanctimoniously says that they’ll do EIRs … of their own making … on traffic, water availability, air pollution and ground contamination. They don’t say anything about urban decay. They wave purported studies in the air at meetings, but no one’s seen any of them. There’ve been no objective looks at what these DDR in-house studies say. DDR says that the County has told them to wait until after Nov. 3 to unveil them. The County says that’s not the case, that they’ve never been approached by DDR with any of their “studies.”
CalTrans says that if the DDR plan is approved and build out occurs, North State Street will have to be widened to six lanes and because of that, the U.S.101 Freeway overpass would have to be lengthened… at a cost of between $15 and $20 million. CalTrans observes that it is uncertain as to who would pay for that. DDR’s only reference to these kinds of offsite mitigation measures is to pay its “fair share” of costs, this “fair share” of course to be determined by DDR… and that only if Mendocino County and/or other public entities provide “timely cooperation and approval.” (DDR’s plan page B-60) DDR reserves the right to determine what is “timely.” DDR plays hardball. The town of Sea Brook, New Hampshire knows this only too well. DDR has a project there and when the Sea Brook told DDR what it had to do to mitigate traffic congestion at their site, DDR said no. Therefore Sea Brook denied approval. DDR then sued the town for “bad faith.” They’re in court now. Let’s not get ourselves in a situation where we have to pay huge bills because DDR won’t live up to its responsibilities. Without EIRs that compel them to mitigate problems created by this monster we the local taxpayers will left with the bill.
So, “What does this have to do with Shelley Alameda/Fahy’s concerns?” you ask. It has everything to do with it. The State of California nor the County of Mendocino haven’t the funds to clean up the mess that will be created by this DDR nightmare. And with no compelling EIR, DDR doesn’t have to do a thing to correct our problems that it created. If the State can’t fund its obligations to maintain roads in Mendocino County now, how in the world will it and the County get the funds to pick up the tab for DDR’s leftover mess?
Folks, this is a bad, bad deal for Mendocino County. The phantom jobs will come out of the local businesses that stand to lose up to 1,000 positions if the 700 “new” jobs materialize at DDR’s mall, the sales tax revenue will likewise come out of existing sales tax sources. There’ll be now “new” anything created except new destroyed downtowns of Ukiah, Willits, Fort Bragg, etc. Most of us don’t live here to just to shop, and the best things in life are not things. The best things in life are what we have… clean air, no excessive noise, reasonable traffic, downtowns that are alive with creative people who we know, and a pace of life that is wonderful. Let’s not take part in fouling our nest. On Nov. 3 vote No on Measure A.
Get your own slogan, Mister!
From BRUNI KOBBE
The latest in a seemingly endless stream of expensive campaign flyers for Measure A is headlined: “Don’t be hoodwinked by the Opponents of Measure A.” I am sure the PR people for the DDR-funded, pro-A campaign are very proud of this take-off on the “Don’t be Fooled by Measure A” slogan by their opponents. But I am confident of the intelligence of the Mendocino voters not to be hoodwinked by the DDR campaign into relenting local control over our future — and to vote No on A.
Follow the money
From DENNIS CREAN Jr.
Measure A asks county voters whether or not to amend the General Plan to create a new zoning designation for a single out-of-state property owner, Developers Diversified Realty. What’s really going on here is a huge corporation trying to buy special privileges for itself while trying to fool us into thinking that the real issue is shopping, jobs and prosperity for Mendocino County.
We can learn a lot by simply “following the money” when it comes to Measure A. The entire effort is being bankrolled by DDR, a huge international developer based in Ohio. Their CEO/Chairman Scott Wolstein earned over $4.6 million in 2008, and his new mega-estate was recently featured on HomesoftheRich.net. I doubt he cares much what happens in our community. DDR has spent well over half a million dollars on the Yes on A campaign, with not a single other donor listed in September campaign finance reports. Much of DDR’s spending has gone to Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller & Naylor, LLP, self-described as “one of the leading initiative law firms and lobbying firms in the State of California” and Dresner, Wickers & Associates, LLC, of San Francisco, “the go-to political consulting firm for Republican candidates, ballot initiatives and major trade organizations.”
Hogle-Ireland, Inc., of Irvine, California, was hired by DDR to create the plan that comprises the bulk of Measure A. I doubt these lobbyists really care that much about our county either.
DDR’s spending also includes paying a small army of signature gatherers $2 per signature to get the measure on the ballot; paying telephone pollsters to call us from Georgia, Florida, and who knows where else; and even paying local students to canvas voters in neighborhoods around the county. It would be nice to think that the so-called local group dubbed Mendocino County Tomorrow represents at least one grassroots effort in favor of the measure, but they too operate thanks to DDR’s funds and were even set up by DDR’s consultants. If Measure A will be such a boon to county residents, where are the local volunteers and campaign donors willing to fight for Measure A?
Meanwhile, the No on A campaign is being conducted entirely by Mendocino County people. Donations have come from hundreds of “ordinary” citizens; dozens of volunteers are making phone calls to their neighbors, stuffing envelopes, and putting up signs; and well-known local musicians even organized a day-long concert to support the No on A effort. Nearly every elected county and city government official has come out against Measure A. No on A has mobilized a wide cross-section of county residents who see the danger in letting a huge corporation buy its way around our local planning process.
I urge my fellow Mendocino County residents to follow the money to see who will really benefit from Measure A — DDR, not us. Don’t be bought. Vote no on A, and then we can get back to planning the future for our own county.
Thanks to Steve Scalmanini