Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Trinidad Property Transfer

That post title sounds a bit cold, and doesn't begin to hint at the strong emotions surrounding this proposal. Maybe that's helpful?


Recently, I've had some good talks with some good people of polar opposite views on this issue.

If we are finished with public input on compromise and solutions, and instead are relying on our elected Council to make representative decisions for our residents, this has been a waste of my time. I don't think that is the case, and I think there is definitely some room for improvement in our current, publicly presented course.

As leaders, we need to watch out even more for the minority

On Voting:

This decision effects so many more people than just our residents in Trinidad. Even with a city-wide vote, the vote itself is not enough. It is a tall order to fill. A tall, tough, and unsavory order, but not an impossible one.

Right-fighting and "my morality is better than yours", set aside, Steve, our City Manager, and Paul, our City Attorney, have done well casting this in a more apolitical and less emotional view-point. By looking at this action in a somewhat colder light, as a legal property transfer with open-space protection, trail access easements, cultural and natural resource protection, and possibly view and vegetation restoration and protection, they are leading us to a stronger solution we can all get behind. One which cares less about how we feel about the past, and more about what will work best in the future for us as a City. As a City elected official, I believe putting our "final" decision and direction to transfer any property to a vote is still the best step we haven't taken.

Right, wrong, or indifferent, including the current property owners in the decision to transfer their ownership and responsibility for protecting this asset is best accomplished by such a vote.


On Not Voting:

The reason to not have a City-wide vote on this, is because we as a Council, and our fellow residents, feel we have enough clear, fairly researched and proven information before us. We have an easy decision that insures all parties have been heard, their concerns have been addressed, and that the best compromise and plan for insuring the protected future of the land has been reached. I don't feel like the presented public "solution" is quite there yet. Closer than ever, but not comfortably there. After listening to people's concerns again, I think we can still do a bit better.


The simple fact that there is a minority of people that still have a strong reaction against the current presentation, still feel left out of the process, and some that may not yet even be a vocal part of the process, is the reason to reach out and engage them in the next scheduled Trinidad general election.

Yes, several public opportunities for comment have been presented. Talk I've heard like, "if they cared, they'd show up to public meetings", talk saying people should send in more letters, etc., is just that - talk. It is selfish reassurance that those of us who enjoy public meetings, debate, and dialogue are doing the right thing, and they are wrong for not participating the way we happen to enjoy participating. In my opinion, as leaders, we need to watch out even more for the minority. The more "quiet" views. We need to make absolutely sure they are represented and addressed. A city-wide vote is the answer to this elected responsibility. When we have a great solution, it will be an easy vote that we will confidently present to our fellow residents.

I don't buy the argument that this issue is too complex, too important, and needs to be completed yesterday because it's been x-number of years since the City of Trinidad has done anything. Nor do I pay any respect to fears that we need to transfer everything before the current Council make-up changes, and we might end up with a more politically divided group again. The adoption of the Tsurai Management Plan, financial expenditure by the City at the Sebring property to begin addressing bluff hydrology, and new trail signage attempts are representative of a new direction and a new commitment to honor City obligations.

One could arguably state that the City has already met it's agreed to obligations since signing on to the Final Tsurai Management Plan two years ago. By Sue's statements the other night ( I'm guessing for the moment), it appears that the City has already revised "the language of access and conservation easement held by Coastal Conservancy to more specifically address permitted and prohibited activities on the property ... " [1]

If we haven't revised any Conservancy language, we definitely need a review of what it is now, and what, if any, expanded role we would like to give the Conservancy in any future property transfer.

 


1. See final TMP, Implementation section 12.5 Ownership, page 78. Also note arguably meeting the requirement to take "steps to transfer allowable portions of the TSA to the Yurok Tribe and put that land into trust status through the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs." From what was said at the last meeting, I don't think we can put any land with an easement, open-space, access, view or otherwise, into trust status with our Federal Government.



Summary:

We will do well building on our current progress of coming together and publicly reaching consensus. This will create even more common ground. Retreating to our old arguments and fears will get us, at best, no-where.

The decision from a vote like this can be one of Trinidad's most healing and trust rebuilding actions ever. We have the opportunity to build faith in each other, and show our commitment to an environmentally sound direction that respects everyones culture and beliefs equally. Or, it can be bitterly forced down on some of our fellow residents by a 4/5 or better vote of our current Council - See final TMP section 10.6 Ownership, page 67: Government Code Section 37351 citation.

I want to pause and review everyone's concerns and solutions. If it hasn't been done, it'd be great to list all of these, and see where we address them with our current direction. Of course some people will be offended and feel left out right? Wrong. I believe there is a way to mitigate even that fear. I'll present my attempt at a better solution to vote on in my next post. If we as a Council are willing to celebrate all of our common ground, and work just a little harder to create just a little more, we will have a solution that works better for everyone involved.

When we have a great solution, it will be an easy vote that we will confidently present to our fellow residents.



Related Posts:



Related Links:

YurokTribe.org

1 comment:

  1. Well last nights Council meeting is another good reason to pause, and make sure we, and everyone involved, are on the same page, and up to speed on this complex issue. Specifically; Final TMP section 10.6 Ownership, page 67: Government Code Section 37351 - 4/5ths Council vote. While I think we need an unanimous Council vote - the right solution will have that - Paul, our attorney, clarified that because of the beach boundary conditions precedent, we will only need a simple majority Council vote.

    Here's the rub: Dean knew that's why the condition was added to the current draft. I asked Steve, he misunderstood as I had, and none of the other Council members understood either. We are moving too fast, and some of the people we represent still know more than we do about this. We'll get there. The statements of some Councilmembers that the general public cannot grasp this stuff, when we are having difficulty ourselves, clearly points to more work needed.

    It's up to our staff to really boil this down some more, keep watching out for the City's interests, and continue to help us understand and convey this to the rest of our fellow residents. We are lucky to have them to do it.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking time to read and respond to my Post. A quick sentence stating your opinion will be much appreciated - it's the reason I'm blogging, Mike