[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.
More Letters to the Editor UDJ
No Property Rights
Clear Democratic Opposition
From DAVID SMITH-FERRI
For months now, proponents of Measure A, most especially Jeff Adams of DDR, have been complaining about how poorly they’ve been treated by the County Board of Supervisors and by the planning process as a whole, which they suggest has been hostile, dilatory, and incompetent. Because of this, they say, they were forced to fall back on the only democratic process left to them: the initiative process.
I’ve heard this sad story told in the Ukiah City Council Chambers and in County BOS meetings. I’ve read it in this newspaper when proponents of Measure A have been quoted. I’ve heard it so often I’m afraid that voters may view it as true instead of seeing it as a political strategy intended to cast DDR as the good guy just trying to exercise its private property rights and move its progressive project along. In this fairy tale, local government staff and officials, of course, are the bad guys getting in the way of progress.
I want to remind everyone who cares about this ballot initiative of a few simple facts that seem to have been forgotten. First, when DDR purchased the land, it was zoned industrial (as it is now). Presumably, they knew this. They have never had a private property right to build a retail mall on the land nor does County government have to bow to their desire to change the zoning.
Second, as we all know, the current BOS is opposed to rezoning the former Masonite property precisely because John McCowen and Carre Brown replaced two supervisors who favored it. Let’s not forget that Mr. McCowen and Ms. Brown campaigned strongly against the rezoning. Their large electoral victories were not only democratic but a clear statement of opposition to the DDR project. It was not a hostile local government nor an incompetent planning process that forced DDR to bring in a guerrilla team of signature gatherers to put Measure A on the ballot. It was desperation. And all the whining to the contrary can’t change it.
Monster Mall Unnecessary
From JANNA OSTOYA
More campaign disputes on Measure A as election nears
The Daily Journal, October 25, 2009
More battling about campaign advertising is afoot this week over statements by an economics professor, statements by DDR’s CEO and statements by a former Greenpeace activist.
Mendocino County Tomorrow (the proponents of Measure A to rezone the old Masonite property and build a shopping mall) Thursday accused the No on A campaign known as SOLE (Save Our Local Economy) of misleading voters on a mailer which includes a quote from Robert Eyler, chairman of the economics department at Sonoma State University.
The quote comes from a story in the Ukiah Daily Journal about a November, 2008 meeting sponsored by MCT which paid Eyler to give a talk about the future of the economy of this area. The quote – excerpted accurately from the Daily Journal story – reads: “You could make the same mistakes Sonoma County made. That creates congestion and that drives good businesses away.” MCT executive director Robin Collier issued a press release Thursday outraged that SOLE would “misquote and misrepresent” Eyler’s comments. “No on A clearly misrepresents Professor Eyler’s position on Measure A,” Collier wrote. “His name and the quote attributed to him are displayed on the mail piece in a clear attempt to fool and confuse Mendocino County voters. The quote used by No on A is nearly a year old and does not concern Measure A at all, nor the Mendocino Crossings project. Professor Eyler’s quote instead was addressing ‘untempered growth.’ Further, Professor Eyler does not believe Measure A or the Mendocino Crossings project are examples of ‘untempered growth,’ and believes No on A representatives have misrepresented his position on Measure A.” [Yeah, right. You’ll be even more outraged with the No On A Landslide – 60 – 40 No On A. -DS]
In fact, Eyler has no position on Measure A. In an interview Friday, Eyler said he knows nothing about Measure A or Mendocino Crossings and has made no evaluation of either one pro or con. He said he was surprised when MCT contacted him to let him know he was being used in some way and was disturbed by it, although he hadn’t seen it and MCT hadn’t told him what the nature of the context of his quote was.
From SUSAN SHER
It has become apparent that locally-owned businesses remain the life blood of our community. CEOs and boards of directors of the large chain stores with which DDR promises to populate its mega-mall simply do not have the interest or commitment to sustain our community.
Recently, as a member of a board of directors for a local non-profit organization with an upcoming benefit event, I had the task of requesting raffle prizes from local businesses. Virtually all of the local merchants who were approached generously donated to the cause despite the fact that many were facing challenging financial times themselves. In response to the same request made to some of the chain stores which have all ready infiltrated Ukiah, I was told that the management of the local store did not have the discretion to make a donation; I should submit a written request to out-of-town corporate headquarters. No doubt, staff in these corporate headquarters would not have heard of this Ukiah non-profit agency, the corporate executives would not be attending the event and having no familiarity with the community in which one of its many chain stores was located, would have no concern for the wellbeing of local folks relying on the services provided by this local non-profit.
Throughout this campaign, Ohio-based corporate giant, DDR has argued that changing the zoning of the Masonite site from industrial to commercial/retail use and the resulting construction of its mega-mall would be an economic boon for our community, a way to put substantial amounts of cash into our dwindling local coffers.
While DDR has made many illusory promises of future benefits, it has thus far, provided one concrete example of the hypocrisy of its purported concern for the economic vitality of our community. Last month, the UDJ compared the campaign spending of both DDR, the only contributor to the Yes on Measure A campaign with that of Save Our Local Economy (”SOLE”), the grass-roots community group opposed to Measure A.
As of September 19, 2009, DDR had contributed over $500,000 to its own campaign. During this past filing period, large amounts of campaign funds were not spent locally; rather, DDR patronized a Marin County law firm, political and marketing consultants from San Francisco and Santa Rosa, and out-of-town printers and graphic designers.
Letters to the Editor
Ukiah Daily Journal
From Stephanie T. Hoppe
What exactly is in the proposed Measure A? For all we can tell, if it passes, it could authorize the slaughterhouse discussed some months ago, and no one in the county would have any say about it.
From Ron Lippert
Thanks for publishing all the various opinions on Measure A. I support No On A. Vote, have an opinion. We must come together and unite to create the future which we all will and do want.
From John Arteaga
I hope that a lot of folks planning to cast ballots in the upcoming election had the opportunity to hear the debate between the opposing sides of the Measure A issue, which was simulcast on KZYX, and also to listen to Barry Vogel’s Radio Curious program today on KZYX 91.5 fm, where he detailed a great many of the less savory facts about DDR’s proposed development.
My wife’s reaction to the debate was something like, “sounds like they’re coming to town to swindle the country bumpkins; do they think that we all just fell off the turnip truck yesterday?”
While today’s bleak jobs picture may prompt some to vote for jobs, any kind of jobs, if one takes a longer view, the passage of Measure A will surely be selling out our birthright and that of our children for a mess of pottage today. If we allow its 68 acres to pass from industrial to ‘mixed-use’ (i.e. what ever any developer wants to do with it, forever exempt from the normal planning and zoning constrains everyone else has to abide by) it will close off forever the possibility of good, well paid, productive, industrial jobs locating any kind of sizable plant in Ukiah Valley.
As the American dollar continues to weaken against the currencies of all those countries which produce goods to trade with other countries around the world, eventually this country will have to rebuild its manufacturing base, which was so rashly shut down and sent off to China or some such cheap labor destination, during the Bush-Clinton ‘free-trade’ era.
Think of how unique and irreplaceable the Masonite site is; strategically situated on a rail siding which may, sometime in the future, come back into operation, with copious water sources and easy access to the freeway, with a great many well-educated potential employees willing to work for far less than the wages demanded in the Bay Area or LA.
[Belly up, sucker. It’s all over but the shoutin’. -DS]
Somewhere in Ohio
Diversified Developers Realty CEO Scott Wolstein “Mothballs” New Development for Better Investments.
“Development is a problem… Access to capital to finance development is very problematic. But even if the capital were available, the yields today are not sufficient to justify investment.
“So we’re finishing up what we are committed to and everything else we’ve mothballed for now. It isn’t worth it to us to devote new capital to build a project that might return 7 or 8 percent…”
Measure A organizers and supporters fooled and betrayed…
Thank you for voting NO ON MEASURE A MONSTER MALL, and for preserving our unique, locally-owned businesses, neighborly small town values, and livable human-scale communities.
Go to video here→
From The Press Democrat
[You can smell it in the air, can’t you? It’s a dead Dino in the middle of the road stinkin’ to high heaven. -DS]
The heated debate surrounding Measure A in Mendocino County hits on some familiar themes of our time:
• Attracting big box stores vs. protecting locally owned mom-and-pop retailers.
• Creating low-paying retail jobs now vs. the hope of creating higher-paying industrial-type jobs later.
• The urgent need for economic development vs. the glacial pace of local planning.
But the central issue in the Ukiah Valley is this: How does Mendocino County want to decide on its major developments, through the traditional county planning process or through the ballot box?
We strongly believe in the importance of a local review process and, for that reason, encourage voters to reject Measure A on the Nov. 3 ballot.
This initiative seeks direct voter approval of the Mendocino Crossroads project, a massive mixed-used development targeted for the site of the former Masonite wood-processing plant just north of Ukiah. The project could include up to 800,000 square feet of retail space and 150 residential units.
We use words like “could” and “up to” because there are so many unknowns about what voters would be approving. The wording of the ballot measure and specific plan are fuzzy, and there are no real guarantees, other than the fact that the project, if approved, would be exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act.
The petitioner, Ohio-based Developers Diversified Realty, never had its project officially rejected by the county.
Jeff Adams, the project manager, says DDR had no choice but to go directly to the voters because the project was getting bogged down in process, including having to wait for completion of the Ukiah Valley Area Plan, still a work in progress.
“It’s a process with no end,” Adams told The Press Democrat Editorial Board. “There is no process.”
It’s true that local governments, including Mendocino County’s, need to do a better job of reviewing development proposals in a consistent and timely fashion.
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