Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A momentous day

Yesterday was a remarkable day.

In Amador County, the Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to oppose the proposed expansion of Pardee Reservoir. They even said they'd oppose any other variation on a Pardee expansion if it had the same impacts as East Bay MUD's current proposal.

I think it's the first time in the nearly 30 years I've lived here that our board of supervisors has actually voted in favor of protecting the Mokelumne River. I may be wrong, but I can't think of any other examples.

In making their decision, the supervisors resisted a full-court press from EBMUD, whose senior staff and board vice-president came to town last week to convince our local agencies to support their project.

At the same time yesterday, over in San Andreas, the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors passed a motion that should lead to rejection of the proposed Trinitas project.

If you live in Amador, you may not have heard of Trinitas, but it's something else. The developer built a golf course illegally on Williamson Act ag land, destroying important habitat in the process. Then he came back with a request to operate the course commercially and add houses and other development.

Trinitas has been hugely controversial. And the proponents have done everything possible to win, from threatening lawsuits to hiring a PR firm to round up local supporters to using Christian graphics to give their project some sort of righteous air. Their law firm, by the way, is the same one representing the Gold Rush Ranch developers.

What do these votes have in common? First, they demonstrate that our supervisors can make good decisions that break with their history. Second, they show what people can do to help bring those good decisions about. Had there not been huge public outcry and organization around both of these bad projects -- Pardee expansion and Trinitas -- the outcome might well have been different.

So stand up and be proud, Amador and Calaveras citizens! Because you stood up, made an impassioned case based on strong facts, and didn't quit, we're just a bit closer to truly protecting our special natural places, communities, and quality of life.

Of course the Pardee fight's not over yet. EBMUD's board still has the final say. But step by step, we're getting there. And finally, the story's made the Bay Area press. Stay tuned!

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