Our View: Community stepped up to LAFCo proposal, as it should
March 17, 2017
This was a perfect week to hold a crowded meeting of the Local Agency Formation Commission.
Community members waited almost a month to again appear before LAFCo about a proposal to slash Nevada City's sphere of influence. They didn't disappoint, filling the Eric Rood Administrative Center and delivering comments — a vast majority opposed to the proposal — for about two hours.
And it just happened to occur during Sunshine Week, the time when we celebrate public access to government information.
Access to our government will be a deciding factor in whether LAFCo reduces Nevada City's sphere of influence by half. One attorney nailed it at a February meeting when he said "the public has a huge influence. I can tell you if you weren't here, this thing would have gone right through."
Shame on us if we had access to LAFCo's agenda, failed to express our concerns and allowed this proposal to pass without the community giving its input.
But that didn't happen, and if Thursday's LAFCo meeting is any indication, it never will.
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LAFCo on Thursday opted to again kick its decision down the road, this time for a meeting six months from now. There's a few caveats this time, though.
LAFCo wants Nevada City officials to present an annexation plan at that meeting. Additionally, a LAFCo committee will examine its own annexation policies that city officials say stymie them.
What could be better? Understandably, opponents wanted the proposal quashed, but barring that perfect scenario for them, a time out to gather more information is a positive.
At February's meeting, Nevada City officials addressed concerns that the city hadn't annexed spots in its area of influence since LAFCo's 2008 sphere update. City Manager Mark Prestwich pointed to a LAFCo policy preventing annexation without a development plan.
Both of these issues should get addressed in the upcoming annexation plan from Nevada City and policy discussion on LAFCo's side. Hard feelings aside, both groups deserve the time and breathing space to hash out the details with their respective discussions. A cooling down period is good for everyone. Let's have the process play out. In the meantime, we'll mark our calendars for the anticipated September LAFCo meeting.
We know taking time off work to attend a government meeting is tedious. Doing it three times is asking a lot. But it's issues like these that demand our attention.
To borrow a phrase, conducting the business of government is like making sausage. It's not pretty to watch, but it must be done. At least in our nation, the factory where we do that work is filled with sunlight.
We can see what our government does. We have access to its agendas and its meetings. We can take our three minutes at the microphone and speak our minds.
All these things — the open meetings, the agendas, the microphones — are sitting in a well lighted room for us. We just must take the initiative and grab them.
And sometimes, not all times and not necessarily this time, government creates an idea that isn't good and shouldn't be implemented. It's at those times when we must stand our ground, have our say and make our government leaders listen to us — the people who put them there.
Sure, the government can push something through if it really wants.
But here in Nevada County, we tend to push back.
The weekly Our View column represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.