Former OBcean Happy to Hear that 35 Years After Fight With Developers and City Hall, Planning Board Still Operating
Editor: We liked the comment to a recent post about Jane and Tom Gawronski so much that we decided to post it – not as a ‘Reader Rant’ but as a ‘Reader Rave’. So, here it is, by Doug Card, a former OBcean who was instrumental in the early days of organizing for the first OB Planning Board back in the mid-1970′s. Doug was a member of the OB Community Planning Group(CPG) – an activist organization that pushed the City to establish a democratically-elected planning committee for the community.
CPG worked with other groups like the OB Town Council and the merchants’ association to indeed set up the framework for such a urban planning committee and the first election – which involved thousands of local voters. Doug was part of the CPG slate of candidates for the very first Board membership elections and was elected to that first Board in 1976. Doug – a college professor by profession – ended up in Oregon, and recently retired. He celebrates his 77th birthday this week. There have been minor edits to the following.
By Doug Card
It was refreshing to hear the old Red House has been saved and revitalized, for we have many a memory of happy days there organizing to save the community or just hanging out with Frank Gormlie, Tom Kozden, and the rest of those incredible folks who made OB the dynamic community that it was.
I also appreciated the update on the OB Planning Board, and was happy to know that some 35 years after we fought the developers and City Hall to create it , it’s still operating. While it was reassuring to read that there are still folks like the Gawronskis working to keep the OB Planning Board viable after all these years, it was distressing, if not surprising, to hear of the continual problems of community apathy and City Hall obstructionism.
Thinking of the work we put in to writing the Precise Plan, it’s sad to read how the “Development” department wants to mangle it. We were fortunate to have had Gary Weber, the best of the SD Planning Department’s professionals, to have helped us write and maintain that plan “back in the day.”
The OB Planning Board was the result of community passion, then itself helped to nurture and maintain that passion, and will only survive if enough folks remember that it is the only bulwark which stands between the healthy OB community and its becoming just another outpost of corporate, materialistic and wealthy Americans who care more for the buck than OB’s natural, sublime beauty.
On a related note, I just heard about the strange casino doings of former SD mayor Maureen O’Connor. Having left OB and the PB for Oregon in 1977, I never knew her as mayor or as millionaire spouse, but I vividly recall her work for OB when she was a city councilor. While she could be a little coy and quirky then, she was much more supportive of our efforts for democracy and livability than most of the other SD city councilors. Funny, the twists of fate life throws us.
So, all the best to all those of you who continue to uphold the values and institutions that make OB a very special place.