Just for fun, let’s talk about the facts | TheUnion.com

Just for fun, let’s talk about the facts

So, now Grass Valley Mayor Patti Ingram is the “fall gal” for not allowing a city staffer to attend a political rally … I mean informational meeting … in Nevada City.

Yes, my soon-to-be-swallowed-up-by-a-population-explosion fellow residents, it’s true. There’s a meeting in Nevada City this week to discuss Grass Valley’s plans to add a gazillion more people to its city limits by the end of the month, and the mayor won’t let the city’s chief planner attend.

Why? Because the mayor doesn’t want the chief planner to tell anyone about the plan to destroy the city she grew up in. It’s all hush-hush. Top secret. Classified, even. I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

OK … I’ll tell you.

According to some concerned citizens who want their candidates to win in November, Grass Valley is planning to rubber stamp four major developments that would add several thousand homes to the city, and if we don’t elect their candidates, we’ll be standing in long lines at the movie theaters and public restrooms.

Never mind that none of those four developments have even been to the Planning Commission yet. That’s just a formality. It’s a giant conspiracy designed to keep carpenters and plumbers employed – that and a chance for us to sell more newspapers, of course.

For those of you who can’t make it to Wednesday’s political rally … I mean informational meeting … let’s review. Grass Valley Planning Commissioner Jim Bair sent a letter out a few weeks ago inviting friends and others to a meeting in a Nevada City church to make sure they clearly understand that there are evil forces at work down at Grass Valley City Hall, where Mayor Ingram and a few of her “cronies” are plotting to destroy the city.

That’s what friends are for.

In that invitation, Bair indicated that the four proposed developments will be decided on this year and will “change our lives” forever. They say the same thing about tummy tucks.

Residents in Grass Valley are so concerned with those developments that only three of them stepped forward to run for three empty seats on the City Council. Why run for office when you can sit home with a hot toddy and write critical letters to the editor during commercial breaks of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”

If Bair is so concerned about the future of Grass Valley, maybe he should have filed election paperwork instead of planning political events in Nevada City.

Bair said he planned the meeting because he’d spoken with many people who “don’t know what’s happening” with the proposed developments.

I suppose they could have gone down to Grass Valley City Hall to find out, but that takes gasoline and it’s much more fun to attend a political rally … I mean informational meeting … in Nevada City.

But that’s probably why Mayor Ingram didn’t want the city’s chief planner to go to Nevada City. I know Grass Valley Community Development Director Joe Heckel, and he’s a good guy. Always open and willing to talk to anyone who calls or visits. In fact, if anyone really wants to know the particulars of any of the four proposed annexations, there is a mountain of paperwork down at City Hall, and it’s all available to the public under the freedom of information rules.

The city’s own Web site (www.cityofgrassvalley.com) is also a wonderful source for information on the four projects.

Besides, Joe reports to City Manager Gene Haroldsen, who reports to the City Council. Joe doesn’t set policy and he won’t be the one deciding the fate of the developments.

If Joe wanted to go to the meeting as a private citizen, he certainly could. If I know Joe, however, he’d rather go for a good run on a dirt trail.

Just for the fun of it, let’s talk about facts for a minute. You know … those stupid things that always get in the way of a good argument.

The first fact has to do with this population explosion we’ve been hearing so much about. As one letter-writer pointed out last week, we’re hardly “exploding.” Our growth rate is a little more than 1 percent per year, which is below the state average. In fact, Nevada City has lost 10 people in the past couple of years, and some of us can even name them. Fred, Martha, Justin, Bill, Bob, Tammy, Jill, Moonbeam and Sunflower all moved to Mendocino last year to start a frog farm and haven’t been replaced by the City Council yet. It’s the only city in America where newcomers need to audition for residency.

Grass Valley has added just 300 new residents in the last three years. The unincorporated parts of Nevada County grew by 0.8 percent in the past year.

In her letter to Bair, Mayor Ingram reminded him that the odds of all four proposals being approved in the next year are about as good as G.W. Bush winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

“Though development interests have been working on proposals with greater intensity than is provided for, such applications require amending the General Plan, which involves the preparation of an EIR (environmental impact report) and an extensive public participation process before being ready for public hearings and consideration by the Planning Commission and City Council,” wrote Ingram. “Of course, any proposal involving annexation is subject to processing and hearing by LAFCo (Local Agency Formation Commission) of Nevada County.

“In addition,” the mayor continued, “Council commissioned a study to analyze the Special Development Areas (SDA) in terms of land use demand, job-housing balance and fiscal implications. This SDA study, which should be completed toward the end of the year, will provide the City and public crucial information to use in determining which, if any, of these proposals and associated General Plan amendments can be supported.”

In other words, these projects still face an ocean of government acronyms before we start talking End of The World scenarios for Nevada County, as much as we enjoy such talk.


Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears each Tuesday.

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Geraldine Kothe: Thank you, first responders


From all the residents of Grass Valley Senior Apartments, thank you to the firefighters, police department air support and everyone who responded to the Bennett Fire. God bless you all. You are all heroes.

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