In the new clubby world of government, formal written legal agreements are no longer required for significant land use approvals. When a city and developer want to know if they can encroach and build on another government entity’s land they meet for coffee, shoot the breeze, make some jokes and all agree what will happen. One of the reasons this historically has not been allowed in the U.S. is that this type of treatment rarely applies to approvals that are needed for projects supported by what in olden times was called the hoi polloi but now is called the 99%. What happened to government of the people, by the people, for the people? Sadly when government officials make light of their social responsibility banana republics are the end result. Welcome to the Banana Republic of Redwood City.
Think I am making
a big deal about nothing? At the Pete’s Harbor “Town Hall”, an attendee asked Redwood City’s Planning Manager Blake
Lyon whether the City had received approval from US Fish and Wildlife Service
for the developer to pave over federally protected refuge land what the Uccelli family has been calling “Uccelli Boulevard." His response was that this
was under discussion and was essentially “the developer’s
responsibility”. When members of SFBMFA (full disclosure I am a member), a non-profit looking
to preserve public access to marinas on San Francisco Bay and the discoverers
of the federal ownership, inquired here is the text of what they received via
“Please find attached our recent correspondence with the City of Redwood City staff in which we confirmed that we are not opposed to the proposed improvements within the subject easement area.
We have met with Mr. Paul Powers on several occasions over the past few months, and we confirmed to Mr. Powers that their proposed trail for pedestrians and bicycles are consistent with our interests to provide passive public access to the shoreline; therefore we verbally consented to the use of the easement area. ……..”
Based on this it appears Redwood City’s Planning Commission will tomorrow approve a new development for the former Pete’s Harbor area. But there is no land swap for federal taxpayers, there is no City Attorney opinion that this passive, verbal agreement is sufficient under applicable federal law governing the refuge. Where are the local refuge supervisors? Sacramento? Washington, D.C.? No deed, no confirmation that they have been notified and have obtained legal counsel and approval to allow this. Does this even conform to applicable law? Is this the way public servants should be making and communicating asset decisions? If it was your land would you make, approve and communicate decisions that way?