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Portola resident Lynn Desjardin, representing the citizen group Rural Advocates, presents a revised draft general plan to the Board of Supervisors during the public comment portion of its meeting Sept. 10. Photo by Debra Moore
Deciding that “anyone can complain, but the real solution is to find a solution,” Portola resident Lynn Desjardin and a group of citizens known as the Rural Advocates wrote their own general plan.
Speaking in front of a full room during the Board of Supervisors’ Sept. 10 meeting, Desjardin said the new plan represented “hundreds of hours of work” and “thousands of dollars on land-use attorneys.”
Desjardin’s presentation came during the public comment portion of the board meeting. She passed out binders, which included the group’s proposed general plan, as well as the current revised general plan that is still in the environmental review process.
As Supervisor Jon Kennedy thumbed through the binder, he asked Desjardin about the section devoted to agriculture.
“We eliminated it,” she responded and added that the group had deleted all three optional elements included in the county’s draft general plan: economics, agriculture, and forestry and water.
Desjardin said that areas that needed to be discussed, such as water, were moved into one of the six state-required elements.
Since the new plan was presented during public comment, the Brown Act precluded the supervisors from discussing its merits, but they could ask some clarifying questions. For example, who wrote it?
Desjardin said that Rural Advocates represents hundreds of people, but a core group worked on the document.
Desjardin said that the group decided to take action, because their attempts to be heard — everything from writing letters to the editor, to addressing the supervisors in public forums — didn’t receive a response.
“Part of the problem is there is no discussion,” she said.
Board chairman Terry Swofford said that there had been a lot of discussion during the general plan process.
“I had a lot of people in my area work on the agriculture part of it,” Swofford said. “This won’t sit well with them.”
During an interview following the meeting Desjardin said her group just wants an opportunity to sit down with the supervisors and discuss their proposed plan.
“Our hope is that they’ll read it and then we can discuss it in front of the public,” Desjardin said.
But that’s not likely to happen since the supervisors are bound by a process that is already underway.
“How much can be done without triggering the whole process again?” Supervisor Sherrie Thrall asked during a conversation following the meeting.
She said she encouraged her constituents in the Lake Almanor area to become involved when the process first got underway. And many did, but not all.
Some of those individuals were in the audience Sept. 10, including Faye Almond, who presented the supervisors with a petition that she said included “over 300 signatures of Plumas County residents and voters.”
The six-paragraph petition begins: “The Draft General Plan currently under consideration by the Board of Supervisors appears to be an effort by special interest groups to increase the County’s dependence on grant moneys in order to provide services and amenities that are unreasonable for a county of this population size, anticipated growth rate, and financial capabilities.”
It goes on to say: “So much of this plan is spelled out in minute detail that the Board will not have the flexibility down the road to exclude activities and required actions that may not be appropriate at the time.”
The petition says that the proposed revision “eliminates much of the extraneous jargon and commitments the Draft Plan contains.”
The county’s draft general plan can be reviewed on the county’s website: countyofplumas.com; and the proposed general plan can be found at ruraladvocates.net.
The next step in the general plan process is for the planning department to finish responding to comments on the county’s draft plan and present the results to the planning commission for action.
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