From CHRIS HARDAKER
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So Willits, what is going to happen after the bypass is complete? The CalTrans operations are underway for the second year and barely a peep. The majority on the City Council who support it seem happy. Heck, they’re busy with secret dealings about obtaining the 300,000 gallons of local water per day for CalTrans’ clients. And by the way, why does the huge overkill of a northern intersection look like it’s going to be a gas-station and quickie-mart extravaganza?
It was the Council’s 3-2 vote that condemned 30% of your businesses by voting for the bypass, and that’s probably a minimum. Will it be your business? Or will you survive, barely? If so, will you be able to afford those huge tax hikes to make up for the ghosts? And then there will be the “other” tax hikes – the ones that come with owning the old 101 north of Hwy 20. When it breaks, it is your taxes that will fix it. This is called adding injury-to-injury. Neither Mendocino County in general nor any of its other cities — with very few individual exceptions — have chimed in to object to this economic and environmental rape of “the Heart of Mendocino County.” For them it’s a ‘Willits problem.’ We are alone here.
We have already lost over 2000 trees, and the 55,000+ toxic wick drains might have polluted the northern part of Little Lake forever. Construction zone runoff is destroying the salmon’s riparian habitat, and the habitat of many other animals has been decimated. Tens of millions of dollars in remediation work that was supposed to go towards mollifying the damage, and was already supposed to be underway, remains on the shelf. Native American village sites are rapidly plowed under while the shivering archaeological commissions and authorities look the other way pretending not to see – this includes the Society for California Archaeology.
All the while, both CalTrans and Mendo’s chief prosecutor — if there is a difference — are still keen on taking down journalist Will Parrish to the tune of $500,000 because early on it was his pen that drew the largest audience to this utterly needless destruction and waste of our valley. CalTrans wants payback. And it wants an example of what will happen to you if you don’t sit down and shut up.
Please see: Will Parrish: The Insanity of the Willits Bypass
Soon, if not already, CalTrans will be the largest landholder of the valley, and that includes probably all 95490ers out there. What power do you think you can muster to preserve your way of life when they own the City Council. Silence is compliance. Hear anything from the Chamber of Commerce lately? They should have the 30% death list figured out by now, at least a ballpark idea for which businesses will fail, and projections of when. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe the Chamber itself will be delivered to the same morgue on a platter when, as a result of our imminent economic ruin, the government finally gets its way and shuts down our Post Office.
The 30% casualty rate among local businesses? Those are CalTrans’ numbers. It might actually be a lot worse. Currently, we have been assured by the Mendo Council that the zones of the intersections north and south of town are not zoned for businesses, like for food and gas. And so this implies that travelers will still have to come into town to fill up and stock up. But how solid is that assurance? All it takes is one little vote by the Mendo County Council to change the zoning type and make it okay to build food stores and gas outlets at the intersections, which are outside city limits. When (not if) that happens, the 30% number has just increased, possibly doubled. What then? What will be the added tax burden then on the remaining survivors, the taxpaying 99%? And who will be the lucky folks making million$ at the intersections’ new businesses? Could this be the real reason for CalTrans’ stubborn insistence for their huge, overblown northern intersection? To fill it up with gas stations and quickie marts when the zoning is changed? If so, R.I.P. Willits. Been nice knowing you.
There is little time to decide. Right now Councilwoman Madge Strong and the SOLLV group are struggling to limit the bypass to two lanes, with a much cleaner and leaner northern intersection.