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I enjoyed reading the editorial comments published in the Jan. 30 edition of the local newspapers. They begged the question “Where were the present critiques of the general plan during the last seven years?” which apparently represents the timeframe editors identify under which this document has been in development. I would respectfully correct that timeframe, as it appears the process actually started in 2002.
Regardless, the question posed is really quite easy to answer: Citizens did participate in the “Your town 20/20 meetings” held in various communities in 2002. Note that these “visioning sessions” were conducted by out-of-county facilitators paid for with grant monies. It was never crystal clear to participants in these “townhall style meetings” that the input collected at these visioning sessions was actually laying the foundation for a county general plan update.
These sessions were never billed as “your county general plan 2020.” I don’t recall the community members indicating or having been given an option during those visioning meetings about whether they were in favor of having the Plumas County General Plan reflect the concepts, vision, language and ideology of Agenda 21/sustainable development, albeit in 2002 those words would have meant little even if they had been presented as an option.
Three years elapsed after these “your town 20/20 meetings” took place, before a Plumas County Planning Commission was even reinstated (2005). The general plan prologue recounts that the planning commission used mail-out surveys during 2006 and 2007 to solicit concerns and opinions of the citizens of the county. All fine and dandy. I think by this time most residents were aware that their responses were in fact being tabulated as an effort to solicit “community buy-in” in development of the general plan.
Yet a full seven years had elapsed since the “your town 20/20” meetings and two years since the mail-in surveys were distributed before the “kick-off” of the general plan update officially began (2009). During that seven-year hiatus one cannot dispute that our local economy and many other basic factors that contribute to the well-being and “future vision” of local citizens had changed dramatically in Plumas County. Regardless, basic planning goals were established and the Board of Supervisors unanimously accepted these general goals.
The recent editorial cites the statistic that 86 total public meetings have been held in the development of this plan. I assume that number encompasses meetings held over the 11 years the general plan has conceptually been in development. That is about 7.5 meetings per year spread across various county agencies. One need look no further than the Plumas County government website to note that in 2012 the planning commission scheduled 23 meetings and ultimately went on to cancel 11 of those meetings … nearly 50 percent. It seems inconceivable that during the heart of the development of the general plan the planning commission had nothing pressing to discuss, no worthy agenda items and elected to cancel 50 percent of scheduled meetings.
But perhaps the most cogent answer to “Where were you the last seven years?” goes right to the basis of our form of government as Americans: We are a republic and have a representative form of government. We do not individually converge on Washington, D.C., or Sacramento every time there is an issue on the table; we rely on our congressional delegates and senators or assemblymen/women to advocate on our behalf. We likewise assumed that the average Plumas County citizen was being adequately represented in the general plan update process by those fellow citizens that had been appointed to serve on the Plumas County Planning Commission. Of note is that none of these planning commission meetings are held during hours that those of us still fortunate enough to have a job in Plumas County are reasonably able to attend.
Only in August 2012 did Indian Valley Citizens for Private Property Rights become aware of what Agenda 21 was and how it was infiltrating county and municipality planning processes clear across our nation via a non-governmental organization known as ICLEI that serves as the local implementation arm of Agenda 21. You will find ICLEI listed as a contributor to the Plumas County greenhouse gas emissions report.
We learned that many states, counties and municipalities across our great nation had passed resolutions condemning the policies of Agenda 21 and forbidding their inclusion in their own local planning processes. The locales closest to us that found it necessary to pass such resolutions and ordinances include Amador County and the city of Colfax. In January 2013 the Republican National Committee included such a resolution in their party platform.
So is this a conspiracy theory? Hardly! This newfound knowledge about Agenda 21 provoked us, mostly out of curiosity, to take a close look at the local document that would guide the planning, zoning and land use in Plumas County for the ensuing 25 – 35 years. Imagine, if you will, our horror to find that this Plumas County General Plan Update was riddled with Agenda 21 language and concepts.
When this was brought to the attention of different public servants of our local Plumas County government the only discussion they want to engage in was about the “process” (we have six years and $600,000 invested). They wanted to avoid discussing the content and quality of the “general plan product” that was ultimately delivered by the contracted planning firms.
The general plan was not written by local Plumas County government. It was “outsourced” to out-of-county firms who specialize in writing general plans … and it is while this document was being written by these contracted firms that we believe the Agenda 21/sustainable development language and concepts were inserted. I do not feel that the Board of Supervisors or the citizen members of the planning commission were in any way complicit or nefarious in infiltrating the general plan with Agenda 21/sustainable development language or policy, and find that they are as surprised and disturbed as they explore the implications of these inclusions as we are.
I also believe that once the document was returned to Plumas County, unless one had a heightened awareness of the “new-speak” words that represent Agenda 21, this language and these concepts would likely passed unnoticed. But none of that changes the fact that we have a document that supports many of the visions and planning goals of Agenda 21/sustainable development. And there is no dispute that these policies erode private property rights.
This is an issue that will affect every citizen in Plumas County — and is a completely non-partisan concern. So are we late coming to the table? Are we too late to have our voices and concerns heard? No, in fact, I think we are just in the nick of time. When our elected county representatives only want to address the process and want to silence our voices on the flawed product that was delivered, it only serves to strengthen our resolve in insisting that the Plumas County General Plan must be scrubbed of every footprint of Agenda 21.