Dec 4 2010

Opinion: The Opportunity to Build Community Consensus on Blair Park

A letter from Kathleen Quenneville, a Piedmont resident, on good governance and gifts:

I am writing to ask that the Council not certify the Environmental Impact Report for Moraga Canyon at its December 6 meeting. Regrettably, what should be an adult conversation has been turned into a circus by the proponents. Children, t-shirts and hot chocolate have no place at meetings at which the Council is being asked to consider a very expensive project with extensive negative impact on our community.  All the yard signs in the world do not overbear the Council’s obligation to exercise its fiduciary responsibilities and ask hard questions at this juncture.

This entire process has been done in a backwards fashion, due to a group of people dangling a so-called gift in front of the Council.  The process should have consisted of:

1) Determining whether there is a need for developing Piedmont’s open spaces, considering the possible uses of such developed spaces, and considering all the alternatives. This should have been done through the governance structure in place for the City (Planning, Park and Recreation Commissions), and then taking this to the Council. Following the City’s governance structure would have allowed for a public consensus to have been arrived at regarding the project.

2) Only after that process was complete, should the City have drawn up plans and done an environmental impact report.

The Council jumped in the middle of the process, with a predetermined outcome, and proceeded to an EIR. Our community is sharply divided, our Oakland neighbors are up in arms, and litigation is likely. Already the City has expended significant funds on paying for this so-called gift, even though the City’s finances are stressed. If the EIR is certified, the City could be on the hook for significant litigation costs. Moreover, this project has the potential to repeat the disastrous undergrounding overruns, unless the City engages in adequate risk management up front and limits the City’s potential liability.

The Council has an opportunity to step back from the precipice. DO NOT let the proponents stampede you into certifying the EIR on December 6. At this point, developing Moraga Canyon is a gift the City cannot afford. Allow the Commissions to do their work before the Council considers certifying the EIR. Allow our community to arrive at a consensus about developing our open spaces. Have an acceptable risk management process in place before proceeding down this path.

Kathleen Quenneville

(This letter expresses the personal opinions of the author. All statements made are the opinion of the writer and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.)

One Response to “Opinion: The Opportunity to Build Community Consensus on Blair Park”

  1. Kathleen, very well put! I couldn’t agree more, particularly about the unknown level of financial risk to the city for both construction and maintenance of the sports complex. Although PFRO flyers consistently claim that the complex will be built and maintained “at no cost to taxpayers,” to my knowledge there is not even so much as a memorandum of understanding between the sports complex advocates and the City, let alone a financial agreement that would allow them to make this claim truthfully.

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