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Fearing that Plumas County’s new general plan could lead to a loss of private property rights, a group of concerned citizens wants to trash the document and begin again.
With the Plumas County supervisors just weeks away from approving the updated general plan, the Indian Valley Citizens for Private Property Rights appeared before the Planning Commission on Jan. 17 and laid out their arguments.
About 60 people packed the small conference room at the planning department with most standing, and some spilling into the hallway.
Their spokeswoman, Carol Viscarra, gave a PowerPoint presentation outlining the group’s concerns and highlighting why the new general plan is Agenda 21 in disguise.
Agenda 21 is a 300-page document adopted in 1992 at United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The document is designed to be a blueprint of how jurisdictions worldwide should move toward sustainable economic growth that simultaneously protects and renews environmental resources.
Explaining that she was not a political activist, but rather an emergency room nurse and third-generation rancher, Viscarra was nervous. But “I believe it’s my civic duty” to come forward, she said.
After several months of page-by-page review, she said it’s her conclusion that the general plan “seems to mirror almost verbatim Agenda 21.”
There has been a growing theory that Agenda 21 is a conspiracy to take away individual property rights and move people off the land to urban centers.
During her presentation, Viscarra presented a map that showed vast expanses of California as off-limits to the public, wide swaths that were treated as buffer zones to be heavily regulated, with only zones around San Francisco, Los Angeles and Fresno that remained unrestricted. “Eighty-six percent of the land will be set aside as wildlife corridors,” Viscarra said.
Because 71 percent of Plumas County’s land mass is already in the public domain, Viscarra said Plumas County is an ideal locale for Agenda 21 to take root. “Be informed. Be courageous. Read about Agenda 21 and study it for yourselves,” Viscarra told those gathered. “The stealth of this organization is upon us in Plumas County.”
She said that the local planning commission members and supervisors “emphatically deny” any relationship with Agenda 21, and she believes them. She attributes the inclusion of Agenda 21 language in the general plan to the consultants that help jurisdictions write planning documents and organizations that provide grants.
She said the words “Agenda 21” never appear in such documents, but words such as “sustainability,” “open space,” “mixed-use housing” and “sustainable development,” which she describes as the “most egregious,” are all indicators of its influence.
“They will never, ever call it Agenda 21,” she said.
Viscarra said that the process began in Plumas County back in 2002 as local leaders embarked upon Vision 2020, with the aid of outside grants. There were meetings and scoping sessions and language terms such as sustained growth and development became more common.
She said that in the county’s general plan update, the words “open space” are used 121 times, “sustainable” 77 times and “the county shall” is used 430 times. She said that the general plan also has “a lot of references to climate change” another popular theme in Agenda 21.
Viscarra said that timber regulations, which restrict forestry practices in the county, are a good example of how Agenda 21 is already being implemented without people being aware.
Addressing the ranchers in the room, she said, “If you’re not worried, it’s because you’re not paying attention.”
She added, “I looked at the general plan through the prism of a rancher, but this should be a concern to all businesses.”
Applause greeted the conclusion of her presentation.
B.J. Pearson, a former county supervisor and developer in the eastern portion of the county, said, “This is one of the best presentations I have ever seen,” and suggested that she should make the presentation in each district.
Sheriff Greg Hagwood agreed and described the presentation as “one of the most succinct and accurate” that he had seen.
“I thought I would spend the bulk of my time protecting people against burglars,” Hagwood said. Instead, he said he found himself protecting people “from their own government. I encourage the Board of Supervisors to put strong language in the general plan regarding private property rights.”
Many in the audience echoed Viscarra’s concerns about private property rights and the new general plan.
“My understanding is that this plan doesn’t need to be approved until 2015,” Sheila Groethe said. “I ask you to trash this and write a new general plan appropriate to Plumas County.”
As some of the comments began to degenerate and one man said implementing Agenda 21 to was tantamount to treason, County Counsel Craig Settlemire, who had attended the meeting, stepped in.
“Everyone here is working to uphold our oaths and the Constitution,” he said.
Senior Planner Becky Herrin, who represented the planning department at the meeting, thanked everyone for attending, but added that she wished they had been “here for the last seven years.”
The planning department had held multiple meetings throughout the process including meetings in each community. She said that when the meeting was held in Indian Valley no members of the public attended.
Her department is now in the process of writing responses to all of the comments that have been submitted for the environmental document associated with the general plan. She said many accuse the general plan of going too far, while others believe that it isn’t restrictive enough. When the document is complete, a hearing will be scheduled before the Board of Supervisors.
How this latest protest impacts the process is unclear. The deadline for filing comments has passed, but during the Jan. 17 meeting, Planning Commission Chairwoman Betsy Schramel invited those present to put their concerns in writing.
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