(This letter was written by San Lorenzo resident and Eden Area activist Keith Barros and circulated via email. It is reprinted here with permission. Barros opposes part of a notion advanced by Castro Valley resident Michael Kusiak. He wants CV to have a separate Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA). Barros offers no opinion here on the other part of Kusiak's idea, which calls for electing the Municipal Advisory Committee.)
The CV MAC obtaining it's own Board of Zoning Adjustments and/or Planning Commission powers is contrary to the purpose, mission, goals, and objectives stated in the pages of the Eden Area Livability Initiative
EALI cannot support this divisive proposal. It would make a sham of the EALI project, its documents and its authors.
It would be disastrous to the flatlands and detrimental to Castro Valley as the problems in Ashland and Cherryland get worse, spread and spill over.
None of us wants any of the Eden Area to be a place we are afraid to even drive through.
The formation of the Board of Zoning Adjustments to displace the singe-person Zoning Administrator was the one thing that united the entire Eden Area.
And we would have never gotten the BZA if it had not been for San Lorenzo's "Tacogate" movement and the exposing of the Zoning Administrator/Code Enforcement Officer's rented and sub-let San Lorenzo county-owned house violating the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance, which he was employed to enforce.
If the CV MAC gets BZA powers, we will probably get a Zoning Administrator back in place for us. That would be a painful injustice.
Here in the flatlands, we struggle to fill a couple of seats on the BZA. We need Castro Valley to help us lift the ENTIRE Eden Area to a higher quality of life. It's in their own best interest and it's their civic responsibility. The population and demographics in Castro Valley are able to provide more board-qualified citizens who are willing and able to sustain a Municipal Advisory Council.
Many people in the flatlands are struggling to just to make ends meet or find employment. I wish it were possible to have a MAC that covered the entire Eden Area instead of just Castro Valley. The non-CV members of this MAC could be brought up to speed very quickly following the lead of their CV counterparts.
As the Blue Ribbon Steering Committee's priorities state, "We must determine a process for indentifying community members who are willing to sustain committed participation in civic involvement."
I know our current system is far from perfect. But we've made headway:
- We displaced the Zoning Administrator with a Board of Zoning Adjustments.
- We increased the representation of majority of Eden Area in the county Planning Commission.
- We created a public process and involvement in Board of Supervisor's recruitment of appointees to the Board of Zoning Adjustments and Planning Commission.
- We implemented the "Soft Remand" between the Board of Supervisors, Board of Zoning Adjustments, and Planning Commission, yielding more accountability, better decisions, and less cost.
What do you think about electing the MAC? (Have you read the Pro argument?)
Should Castro Valley have its own BZA?
Leave a comment or attend the meeting at the Castro Valley Library from 6-9 pm tonight where these issues will be aired.