Editor: This is a response by Seth Connolly to Danny Morales’ “Ragster Rant: the OB Planning Board In Crisis”. Seth currently sits on the Board representing District 4.
by Seth Connolly
Danny Morales, I noticed that you were able to portray the Board as a bunch of 420-unfriendly, anti-environmentalist, corrupt, anti-local business yet somehow still rubber-stamping folks who frequent Starbucks. Well done. Kinda wish I had thought of that first, as it is no doubt a strong platform in OB.
Anyhow, I do in fact serve on the Board as a rep for District 4, and I do not speak on their behalf or in that capacity here. No idea what district you guys are going for, but glad to hear you and Mr. Sparling are running. I know that you personally are a fighter for OB, and that you would have a strong focus on using existing policy and code. So I wish you good luck, as you would be a strong addition.
As a private citizen who knows that many people get their information through social media outlets, I feel compelled to address/clarify some of your points in this (hit) piece, however. I’m not the Chair, and am not charged with keeping order out of the chaos that is OB, so I don’t get all these rules of order protocols and whatnot. There’s no question that the two Chairs I have served with are both more capable than myself in this regard. But personally, I probably would have let a community member speak at a sparsely-attended community meeting without a speaker slip. Agree with you there.
Anyhow… since the public has a right to know about those protocols, let us draw a distinction here between Action Items and Information Items during Board meetings for those reading along. Action Items are those in which the Board forms a position and votes on a recommended action. Information Items are those in which the community and Board are informed about local land use issues, and generally, no positions or recommended actions are formed. This is important in light of your piece, as the Tsunami signage and OB Library extension were Information Items. In the case of the library extension, it was stated on record that the architect requested to update the community and Board on their activities, and that they will be seeking a LEED-Silver certification of the project (which is on the very high end of being environmentally-friendly).
As to medicinal marijuana, I personally support it. I have had friends with cancer who have benefited from its use per their doctors’ recommendations, and I know that it is a more desirable way to relieve pain than addicting people to synthetic opiates. But as you know, the legality of medicinal marijuana is not determined by community planning groups, who are more likely to be concerned with the land use impacts of local dispensaries. These dispensaries are not being very regulated right now, and in other communities in California, this has in many cases led to what are essentially drug operations exploiting a loophole and bringing crime to neighborhoods (they tend to get robbed a lot, and again, they may not even exist for the purpose of helping to aid cancer patients with their pain). Even when well done, they may result in storefronts that are protected by barbed wire, dogs and armed guards. Bottom line is that there are many dispensaries now in operation in OB, in both commercial and residential areas, and that the community currently has very little say in how they operate. This is of concern to many, even within District 4, an area with several head shops and even a new hydroponics store.
As to one of the Action Items in which a local business owner and Board member applied for a license to sell beer and wine… well… when we refer to the “community” in OB, it most certainly includes local business owners and commercial property owners, as well as homeowners and renters and other various stakeholders. A community planning group should in my personal opinion absolutely reflect the full scope of community stakeholders, and will likely be more informed and more fair because of it. But it is inevitable that this will sometimes result in a board member applying for a permit that their own board visits and forms a position on. That in itself is nothing nefarious. All one can ask is that people recuse themselves when they have an obvious conflict of interest, and that their requests are viewed by the same standards that anyone else’s would be, in a clear and transparent manner. The public record shows that this Action Item was approved by the Board unanimously, and that other entities will now make their decisions on whether this permit will be granted.
Won’t go too far into some of the innuendo you put out there, but the idea that a current District 4 rep (and I assume you meant the other one) would not support OB Surf & Skate specifically is, in my own opinion, completely baseless and inaccurate. My private citizen version of events is that there was some on-the-record discussion (on a purely informational, non-agenda item basis) about the recent changes and activities taking place around the old Rock, Paper, Scissors building and the adjacent lot — and specifically as they related to existing laws/codes and a potential loss of parking. No positions formed, no actions recommended.
Lastly, “wield power and influence” is a bit strong, don’t you think? The public record shows that Board recommendations to the City are routinely ignored. In my personal opinion, an updated Precise Plan and greater community involvement would go a long way to changing that.
But again, good luck. Glad to see people’s interest in OB.