To the Editor – Ukiah Daily Journal
Legacy of Deceit
From KUMAR PLOCHER
As a manufacturer of local goods, and a Ukiah provider of 15 good-paying jobs, I worry about the effects a mega-mall nearby would have on my business, Yokayo Biofuels. Our biodiesel production plant is located on Orr Springs Road. We send out and receive truck deliveries (including 18-wheelers) throughout each business day, and each of these routes must pass through the corridor between Orr Springs Road and the onramps to Highway 101- the exact area threatened with massive congestion if Measure A passes and a bunch of stoplights are installed. I have tried to quantify the negative impact of these potential developments for my company in dollars and cents, but it’s very difficult. Frankly, I fear the unknown in this case.
I’ve been worried for the last several months that Measure A may indeed pass. It seems that many well-intentioned, intelligent people are very impressed with the promise of more shopping choices here in Mendocino County. That notion might appeal to me too, but it seems to be a very superficial promise. DDR, the company behind Measure A, has always attached disclaimers to every vision they put forth for the future of the Masonite property, and it seems the only thing that they are 100 percent committed to is changing the zoning. As a businessperson with some experience in commercial and industrial realty in this county, I can understand why. Once they’ve got the zoning switched from Industrial, they should be able to sell the property for a much higher price. This is the thought that keeps me up at night: if Measure A passes, we really don’t know what will end up at Masonite. DDR will have enabled a situation, through a corruption of the democratic process, by which they can sell a property free of many important regulatory hurdles to the highest bidder. That highest bidder could be a very bad neighbor, but we would have already lost a lot of the rights to contest their entrance into our community. Again, I’m not an “ignorance is bliss” kind of guy, but in this case, I fear the unknown.
Back when the petition that resulted in Measure A being on the ballot was being circulated, I recall hearing about the petition-hawkers’ claims regarding the nature of the petition. Many were saying that it was about “cleaning up Masonite.” By that time, I had been able to take a close look at the details, and the petition was obviously aimed at getting DDR out of the regulatory process that is appropriately required whenever a zoning change is requested. When I say that well-intentioned, intelligent people have been impressed by DDR’s facade, I am specifically recalling my father – a professional CPA and the Chief Financial Officer of my company – who was tricked into signing the petition by the claims that were made by paid “volunteers.” He’s an activist, and years of signing petitions had taught him to trust the intentions and claims of these folks. He was very upset when he found out that he’d been duped, and he went to the County offices to remove his name from the list.
We cannot let this legacy of deceit defeat us. We are better than that. We are building a local community, and if that phrase is to mean anything in the future, then there is simply no space here for outsiders to break off and sell to the highest bidder! Please join me in voting no on Measure A.
Had Enough of Corporate Rules To Live By
From ANTONIO ANDRADE
I have spent a number of hours reviewing the 324-page site plan DDR submitted as part of Measure A. Should their measure be successful, from that point forward, Mendocino County would have two sets of rules (and essentially two classes of citizens) for land use. It creates special rules that apply to DDR or whomever they sell their property to and other rules will apply to the rest of us.
Under DDR’s or their successors set of rules,
1) They freeze the County fee schedule as of April 2009, thereby dictating the fees County Planning and Building can charge for oversight of their project. If there are new fees enacted after April, 2009, DDR defines what constitutes a legitimate fee. Never mind that the County has never had oversight of a project of this magnitude (Measure A, Ch 8.2.2, Pg B 222);
2) They prohibit design review. (Exhibit A, Page 2.). They define the size of their signs;
3) They require a demolition permit to be issued within 30 days irrespective of environmental issues (Ch 8.3.2, Pg B 224). They acknowledge exemption from CEQA (Ch 8.5, Pg B 228)
4) They require the County Planning Director to evaluate design and sign applications according to DDR’s parameters and issue a permit 30 days after they submit an application (8.3.3, Pg 224);
5) They determine what can be appealed and who can appeal a decision of the Planning Director; list the appointed Planning Commission, rather than the elected Board of Supervisors (BOS) as the last place one can appeal major plan changes, and outline the parameters the Planning Commission must use when deciding an appeal (Ch 8.3.4, 8.3.5, & 8.3.7, Pg B 225 & B 226. See Also, Exhibit 8.2, Pg B 227); and…
6) When claiming consistency with current plans, they reference the 1981 General Plan, the draft New General Plan, and the 2003 and 2007 draft Ukiah Valley Area Plans (UVAPs). In short, they determine consistency (Ch 9) with no County input.
For any other new developers or for all current Mendocino County landowners, the rules are and will be different. We will pay the fees determined by the County and approved by the BOS, need to submit projects to design review, have public hearings on our projects, follow the County appeals process, and comply with the final General Plan and UVAP. We will have public hearings and the elected Board of Supervisors will have the final say on projects.
After over eight years of this country being overrun by unregulated, corporate greed that have pushed us to the brink of bankruptcy, I for one have had enough of corporate-defined rules to live by. We must have an actual level playing field that treats everyone equally, not a playing field where those who have enough money can purchase a new rule book applicable only to themselves.
We have invested our sweat, tears, dreams, and tax dollars in this community. We live by our community rules. Those who have invested in commercial land in this community deserve to be treated equally and not have their long term investments diminished by over-building land speculators with fat pockets telling us how to run things. This is defense of the homeland in our own backyard. Vote No on Measure A.
Cheese in the Trap
From SAMANTHA BURKEY
If your desire for a Costco in Ukiah is your reason for voting for Measure A, please consider this:
When I arrived in this valley 30 years ago to write for the Daily Journal, the City of Ukiah was in discussions with Costco about coming into what was then the Airport Industrial Park, now the Walmart shopping center. The zoning was there, the land was there.
But 30 years later, do you see a Costco? Don’t you think that if Costco really wanted to come to Ukiah, they would have done so long ago?
I believe this is just more cheese in the trap, folks. These DDR people are spending a fortune to cram this down our throats — and just about all of it is going to out-of-county businesses. They don’t care about us. No on Measure A, please.
Measure A Position Completely Deceptive
From MITCHELL GLASSELL
I was happy to be able to see the debate Oct. 8 on TV. I will be voting no on Measure A, because it is obvious that the ‘pro’ position is completely deceptive. The two people representing Yes on A were worse than ineffective, had no aroma of truthfulness throughout, and did not offer a positive thought or fact.
I look forward to many years of looking down on the old Masonite property as I go past it. No traffic hassles, open space of a sort, and a pyrrhic victory for some, many of whom need some cheering up. At some point I believe there will be a well thought out use for that property. DDR has thought long, but not well. No on A.
Monster Mall Not Sustainable
From KAREN GRIDLEY
Please vote no on Measure A. Mendocino County residents are farsighted enough to realize that huge strip malls dependent on goods made in China are not sustainable for our future. Eventually the 12,000 mile trip made by container ships will become too expensive as oil supplies dwindle, making big box stores obsolete.
We need to renew and invigorate our local businesses and downtowns; just as the federal and state governments need to re-invest in national/local manufacturing to create a more balanced and secure economy.
We need to maintain the right to determine our own economic future in Mendocino County, and not be at the mercy of large corporations who have no sense of loyalty to place or people. Don’t be deluded by costly propaganda: just vote No.
Ukiah Another Ghost Town?
From HUBERT FERNANDE
While driving into Ukiah on Sunday Oct. 4, I passed the new Kohl’s parking lot that was filled with cars. J.C. Penney’s next door had a handful of cars in the parking lot, probably the employees. There has been much conjecture regarding the benefit of a new shopping mall at the north end of town. In my opinion there are just so many shoppers to go around. If the mall is built, we will see many cars at the mall, and our town will become a ghost town.
DDR Offers Slave Wages
From HAL VOEGE
During the DDR vs. Sole debate it came out that DDR’s economic analysis concluded that $7.84 per hour is a ‘living wage’ in this county. $7.84 is the equivalent of less than $15,000 per year net!
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think most of us would consider that a ‘living wage.’ So, not only is this mega-mall developer saddling us with hundreds of dead end retail jobs that offer little room for advancement, it seems they believe that our young people will jump at that opportunity. Think they can expect to raise a family and buy a home on that kind of pay?
Here’s the point: We cannot shop ourselves into a vibrant economy that will attract smart young people by offering them a decent living. We have to produce something in order to do that! We need industry in this County, not a mega-mall! I’m not talking about one large facility like Masonite. There are many examples on the Internet of communities that lost a large employer and created a vibrant complex of small industries that use local resources, generate jobs, increase property values, and benefit the local economy. We have resources and resourceful people. What we need are the community pressure and the political will to make it happen instead of defaulting to DDR.
Vote NO on Measure A!
Measure A a Blank Check
From MADGE STRONG and TOM DeMARCHI
We have major concerns about Measure A:
1. It would bypass public involvement and local government decision making, including an Environmental Impact Report. This is a horrible precedent on how to make land use decisions. It could also leave tax-payers holding the bag for traffic and other impacts.
2. The so-called Specific Plan that Measure A would approve is a blank check, since it is only “conceptual” but allows for any and all potential uses. It could be a mega-mall or all residential, or lie vacant for years. It would not necessarily provide any jobs, sales tax revenue or public amenities. Campaign promises are not reality!
3. It’s extremely unlikely a mall would be built, since malls (and DDR itself) are going belly-up in this economy. If it were, it would draw business away from existing stores, thus offsetting its purported jobs and sales tax benefits, while decimating downtown Ukiah (not to mention Willits). All profits from the mall would leave the County.
4. The current zoning of the Masonite site offers the best, perhaps only, opportunity for industrial uses in the County. Green industries (solar, energy efficiency, etc.) could bring much greater economic benefits to the community – better jobs and keeping more of the dollars local.
Any one of these concerns is enough to warrant a No vote on A.
Monster Mall Could Suck Wells Downstream Dry
From PINKY KUSHNER
Vote No on A.
• It by-passes all CEQA requirements. Read the 315-page ballot measure and see that the developers can do whatever they want out there, no matter what chaos it causes to the rest of us.
• The project has no water. There is a well on the site, but the State has said DDR can’t pump it. DDR is contesting this judgment, but the State said it for a reason: the well hasn’t been used for more than the State’s timeline of five years — using it could suck the wells downstream dry.
Protect us from these developers from Ohio: Vote No. We can do better.
We’re Not For Sale!
From DAVID ROUNDS
We all complain about politicians being “bought” by oil companies, insurance giants, prescription drug manufacturers, and others who influence the votes of lawmakers. The parade of U.S. Senators, including some Democrats and most Republicans, who are putting the interests of their friends in the insurance business ahead of the needs of their constituents has been particularly disheartening to watch.
But with our own hot issue – Measure A and the would-be developers of the Masonite property – we have a very different situation. The Board of Supervisors of our great little county, it turns out, cannot be bought. They just said “no.” So now these developers have a new tactic: they are trying to buy us, the voters. They want us to override the Board of Supervisors for them, and further to excuse them from following the usual rules and from paying the normal development costs. And they have invested several millions in political snake-oil – pseudo-objective “studies,” hardball signature gatherers, for-hire phone banks, phony baloney brochures, and all the rest — in order to close the deal.
The question that remains is this: Are we for sale?
Let’s hope not. On election day, let’s shut the door on these predators once and for all. No on A!
We Need Living Wage Jobs
From LYNDA B. MYERS
Mendocino County needs jobs, that’s for sure! We need skilled jobs that pay a living wage, so our young people can stay in the area, buy homes, and raise families here. The Masonite property is large enough to support a clean industry that pays the kind of wages and benefits to attract and keep skilled workers, including those who were raised here and would love to stay.
I want Mendocino County to have a strong local economy; that’s why I am voting No on A!
I Buy Local
From SUSAN ROUNDS
I am voting no on Measure A. My no vote is not because, as an earlier letter writer suggested, I want to “close off Ukiah” from the outside world. But I do believe strongly that not all outside influences are good ones. I believe that I can best support my community by doing as much of my shopping in locally owned businesses as possible. I buy my books at Mendocino Book Company and Mulligan Books; I buy yarn at Heidi’s Yarn Haven; I buy food from the Farmers Market and Ukiah Natural Foods; I buy seeds and plants from Oak Valley Nursery, to name just a few. The creation of a monster mall north of town will hurt these and other local businesses and leave us with serious traffic and environmental problems.
My No on A vote is a vote for local control and a vote against allowing a multinational corporation to buy its way into our community.
Moser Hedges His Bet
From CHAS MOSER
Today I was visited by someone taking the temperament of voters on Measure A. When I said I was not a big fan of expansion for tax purposes I was told that Measure A would only change the zoning on the property. I said that the attitude of grow or die as a city is concerned is a myth. There are thousands of cities in America that are surrounded so they cannot grow and they have survived for a very long time. They are where people go to escape growth and what it brings to communities. I explained that to the researcher and she said, “So I can put you down for a no on Measure A.” I said she could do what she wanted but that I had not made a final decision on the issue.
Who is SOLE?
From SHANNON RILEY
SOLE Steering Committee
SOLE (Save Our Local Economy) is the name of a campaign committee, formed specifically to oppose Measure A on the Nov. 3 ballot. We are made up of concerned citizens of Mendocino County who agree that Measure A is not in our communities’ best interest for the future.
There are over 400 local volunteers signed up to work as a part of SOLE. They are from all walks of life – Democrats, Republicans, young and old, business people and farmers.
Our campaign is funded by the donations of local people and businesses, not a giant, out-of-state corporation. SOLE is extremely proud to have over 500 donors and counting – people who have given anywhere from $5 to $10,000 to help save their local economy.
After Nov. 3, SOLE will likely dissipate, but its members aren’t going anywhere. The thousands of citizens who have gathered under the SOLE banner are fighting because we’re in this community for the long haul. We believe in a bright future, community planning that is smart and fair, and a strong local economy for Mendocino County.
Please vote No on Measure A.
Thanks to Steve Scalmanini