Read property rights initiative for yourself and then decide |

Read property rights initiative for yourself and then decide

On Feb. 25, Mr. Don Rivenes, a member of the NH 2020 Forestry Working Group, wrote to the NH 2020 Community Advisory Committee, chastising the recommendations of the Recreation Working Group. Mr. Rivenes is president of the Audubon Society, and his wife, Barbara Rivenes, is president of the local chapter of the Sierra Club.

He says, “The original task given the Planning Department was for implementation of General Plan policies for: completing a country-(sic) wide biotic inventory; developing a habitat management plan; considering creation of an open-space district; and completing a vegetation ordinance. From this NH2020 emerged.

Somehow, out of that direction, working groups were formed … To focus on long-range goals … Although these are admirable … any recommendations developed … should keep in mind the original goals of NH2020 as stated above.” (Emphasis added.)

The working groups were always just a smokescreen to distract attention from implementation of the “original goals” of NH 2020; the biotic inventory, habitat management plan, vegetation ordinance, creation of an open-space district. They weren’t formed until after the uproar over the biotic inventory ensued and thousands of letters were sent to the supervisors and Planning Department, denying access to private properties throughout the county.

The biotic inventory has now been completed, and the maps, I’m sure, disseminated to every local, state and federal agency as soon as the ink was dry. As I’ve said since 1998, when the first biotic inventory grant was proposed, it’s not, and never has been, a matter of “if NH 2020 is defeated,” but “how soon will we feel the effects of NH 2020.”

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. There’s a graphic included with this column, of a parcel map as it was originally recorded in the county, and as recorded after the parcel was split in two.

According to the legend, the plain white area on both maps is where development is allowed. On the original map, with the exception of a riparian restriction along the creek, the whole 93 acres would have allowed development.

Notice it after it was split in two. The split was submitted in 1998, and finally recorded in December of 1999. 80 percent or more has been “taken” as non-disturbance space. No development allowed. The land absolutely cannot be disturbed.

The owners were not “greedy developers,” “good ‘old boys,” or any other of the invective so beloved by environmentalists. They were normal, everyday property owners, just like you and me. They continued to pay their property taxes, even though the county took 80 percent or more of their property.

And you know what’s really interesting? The Planning Department required them to record these restrictions on their deed in 1999, even though the zoning ordinance, the document authorizing these restrictions, making them legally enforceable, hadn’t yet been approved and didn’t go into effect until July 11, 2000!

And you think NH 2020 will be harmless.

It’s in hopes of correcting such abuses as these that Citizens for Fair & Balanced Land-use was formed. CFBL’s ballot initiative, the Property Owner’s Claims Reimbursement Process Initiative, (such a stuffy and pretentious title given by county counsel!) simply asks the county to make a process so that if private property is taken for public use, such as scenic viewsheds, open space, setbacks, public trails, etc., the property owner can be compensated. (The property owners of this parcel received nothing, yet look what the county took from them.) Read it for yourself at It’s fair. And simple.

(Unlike the hilarious claims of a recent columnist. It’s always so refreshing to see someone accuse someone else of ignorance, with absolutely no embarrassment whatsoever about exposing their own much greater ignorance. That’s what makes political discourse in Nevada County such a delight.)

Intelligent planning and protection of Nevada County’s beauty will, at some point or another, impact someone’s private property. It’s unavoidable. If the supervisors truly held your property rights first and foremost, as they claim, they would be urging you to sign this petition. They’d have proposed it themselves, instead of their worthless “Property Owner’s Bill of Rights.”

CFBL is publishing a petition on the back page of section 1 of The Union on Wednesday. Petitions have also gone out in the mail. Look for them, if you’re a registered voter sign them, and please, let’s restore some sanity, some fairness, and some balance to our privilege of protecting our county for future generations.

Melinda Monaghan, a resident of Rough and Ready, writes a monthly column.

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