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Oakley’s General Plan Charette a Charade?

Tuesday, November 11th
The Oakley City Council held its work session last eventing to discuss its General Plan. While many stated that this is a fine beginning, it is unfortunate that the City Manager and Council consistently cut folks off in the apparent attempt to stave off disconcerting feedback. The City Manager, employee of the City Council, stole the floor on several occasions to launch into a series of inflexible talking points. A couple of times he rambled off four or five consecutive tired cliches to reiterate his previous statements, fully discreditting feedback or concerns voiced by community members.
For more information visit www.oakleyinfo.com

Press Release

Who is OCRG?

We are a grassroots group of Oakley citizens who appreciate Oakley for its many positive qualities, but are concerned that the City Council has planned a future for our Oakley that will degrade and destroy many of these qualities. We have grown weary of the City Council ignoring citizen opposition to their plans. The citizens of Oakley need to coordinate energies now in order to keep our city the kind of place that makes us want to live here. Employing our First Amendment right to petition our government, we will fight for a better Oakley.Oakley's population has nearly tripled (12,000 to 35,000) in just 15 years and is scheduled to nearly double again in the next 10. The projected General Plan build-out (so-called) for 2020 is over 68,000 people, but of course that won't be the end of it. Oakley will be transformed from a good place to live and raise children into a cheek-by-jowl cookie-cutter suburb.As if this breakneck pace of development wasn't enough, this year the City Council greased the wheels even more for development by abolishing the Oakley Planning Commission. This power grab, justified as a cost-saving measure although little money was saved, has allowed the city to stifle citizen-driven opposition to many City Council's pet projects. Amazingly, Oakley is now the only city of any size in the entire Bay Area to lack a planning commission! OCRG demands that Oakley's process for approving development reflect both good planning practices and the values of the residents, including, but not limited, to reinstatement of the commission.Find below a first draft of OCRG principles:

  • OCRG will serve as an interface between Oakley citizens and regional organizations such as Greenbelt Alliance, Brentwood Agriculture Land Trust, American Independent Business Alliance, and act as an independent check on the city government. Membership will be based on general agreement with these principles. There will be democratic governance via an elected steering board and periodic membership meetings, with bylaws adopted ASAP.

  • Work toward a sustainable Oakley, sustainable being defined as first not worsening and then reducing existing impacts on the environment. Revise General Plan and implementing ordinances to reflect sustainability. Educate Oakley citizens about the benefits of restrained development and sustainability.

  • Reduce the footprint of remaining development as much as possible by requiring a 2:1 open space mitigation within/internal to Oakley. Pass a "right to farm" ordinance to ensure an adequate economic return on agriculture conducted on small fragmented parcels in addition to large ones such as the Hotchkiss Tract. Continue support for existing referenda and further ones as needed, and move forward ASAP with an initiative for a development moratorium (partial) followed by one for a General Plan re-write. Take needed steps to maximize retention of open space outside the city limits. Oppose unnecessary infrastructure development in those ares, including schools.

  • Oppose non-agricultural development on land subject to inundation by global warming through 2050. At present the best science on this indicates about 1 meter (40"). Allow for upland retreat of wetlands as sea level rise progresses. Development requiring levees must indemnify the city and purchasers against sea level rise; foisting the financial responsibility for this onto the state government is irresponsible and risky.

  • Examine the long-term effects of redevelopment and other city economic policy consistent with the above, and consider changes to benefit small and unionized businesses over big boxes. (City implementation of Big-Box ordinance).

  • Reinstate the Planning Commission and add specific procedural safeguards for citizen participation at both the Commission and Council levels. Examine whether the present rules for governing the city are best. Consider campaign finance requirements, some form of term limits, proportional voting, reduction of term lengths, district voting, the size of the Council, an elected Mayor, and establishment of other commissions in appropriate policy areas (noting that many of these will require adoption of a charter first).

November 10th, Oakley’s General Plan Charette
Tuesday, November 10th, 6:30 pm
City Council Chambers
3231 Main Street
Oakley, California

The City Council will be holding a work session to discuss its General Plan, which is the blueprint for the future development of Oakley
For more information visit www.oakleyinfo.com
CalHCN & OCRG 9/17/09
November 4, Independent Business: Strength In Numbers
How Oakley can help independent businesses thrive, strengthen our local economy and maintain a vital, sustainable community
Wednesday, November 4
7 pm, Scheer Security
3460 Main Street, Oakley

Wal-Mart and other big box retailers still have their eyes on Oakley, but that doesn’t mean we must succumb to the homogenization and losing local businesses. Join us for a provocative and practical presentation and discussion that will highlight the cultural, economic and environmental benefits provided by maintaining a strong base of locally-owned business and dangers that accompany dependence on outside corporations.

We’ll learn about a wide range of tools our community can use to support local entrepreneurs and successful examples used by dozens of cities and towns to help local independents thrive.

Jeff Milchen founded and directed the nation’s first Independent Business Alliance in Boulder, CO before co-founding the American Independent Business Alliance to help other communities to organize successfully. AMIBA has since helped more than 100 communities across the continent implement related programs. Milchen is a highly-sought speaker, nationally-published writer and leading voice for community self-determination. Don’t miss it.
The event is free and open to the public. To learn more contact Paul at 925-308-4354.
Samie Hartley 10/29/09 thepress.net
East Contra Forum: Citizens campaign to save open space
Oakley citizens are rallying together in preparation for the General Plan workshop scheduled for next month.

The leader in the fight to challenge the city’s current General Plan, the grassroots organization Oakley Citizens for Responsible Growth – formerly known as Oakley Citizens for Responsive Government – met last weekend for its third East Contra forum – this time focusing on promoting sustainable growth.

The City of Oakley recently lost a lawsuit in a case brought earlier this year by Greenbelt Alliance, a Bay Area-based environmental activist group, which challenged the environmental impact report for the East Cypress Corridor Specific Plan. A county judge ruled earlier this month that the document didn’t do enough to protect farmland, and the East Cypress project was halted until further notice.

Melissa Hippard, campaign director for Greenbelt Alliance, spoke at the forum and encouraged the audience of about 10 to continue the fight to protect not only Oakley’s farmland, but farmland throughout the Bay Area.

“The Greenbelt Alliance doesn’t run around suing everyone – in fact, that is our last choice … but Ag land in the Bay Area is dramatically disappearing and it is under a lot of threat,” Hippard said. “The housing bubble was a big driver of that … and every county in the Bay Area has faced the same kind of dilemma with Ag land.”

Hippard said city growth is a lot like hair growth. When you’re hair gets too long, you cut it before it gets out of control. You want your hair to reflect your style so you maintain it to grow at the rate that suits you.

The same goes for city growth, Hippard said. The city needs to know when it’s time to cut growth to match the style of community the people want to live in. Growth needs to reflect what people want, and as demonstrated at recent City Council meetings, the citizens don’t want to see more housing – they’re ready for a haircut.

Hippard said Greenbelt Alliance would keep a close eye on Oakley to see how the city proceeds following the recent lawsuit ruling and will react accordingly, whether the city appeals the decision or drafts a third EIR for the project.

Tom Powers, chairman of Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust, told the assembly that the Oakley City Council appears more interested in promoting housing developments than farming because the developments bring in more revenue. He emphasized the need to protect farmland so that far East County can maintain its agricultural heritage through campaigns such as Buy Fresh, Buy Local. “We see it on a national and even international level – people don’t know where their food is coming from,” Powers said. “What we (BALT) are trying to do is make people aware that food can come from their local area. It’s fresher, has a better carbon footprint, and you can see that it’s safe because you know the farmer and you know how they’re farming.”

Environmental activist Steve Bloom, who has more than 30 years of experience challenging authorities to protect the environment, has been helping OCRG draft petitions to shut down Discovery Builders’ housing projects along Knox Lane and Laurel Road and said the docile approach isn’t working. The citizens’ attempts with “pretty-please” petitions have failed to gain attention at council meetings, and now the citizens have no choice but to take the more hard-hitting approach of formal petitions. If that doesn’t work, there is an endgame strategy.

“The other tool that is available is the meat ax of politics – the recall. If you have a city council that has run amuck and is really doing the wrong thing, it’s possible to recall them via petition process. … If worse comes to worse, it’s something that’s available.”

Hippard said she hopes the citizens of Oakley can find a way to engage in a civil, open discussion with city officials about the future of the city and make a recall unnecessary.

“Growth is going to happen, so if Oakley Citizens For Responsible Growth could act as a neutral environment – a place to bring people together who share a concern for the direction of their community – you can build a leadership in your group to act as a counter voice to the leadership of the City Council.”

Paul Seger, co-founder of OCRG, emceed the event and encouraged the audience to mobilize in preparation for the General Plan workshop, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Oakley City Council Chambers. “The council – because of all this action we’ve been shaking the boat a little bit – they’re actually providing a General Plan workshop where they’re going to allow us to come in and speak our minds and apparently, we’re going to be listened to. But I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.

“OCRG needs to be ready for that meeting and have a strategy proposed to make it known that we want to move forward. This is not a one-time meeting and they’re not going to brush us off that easily. They need to know that we’re going to be a part of this process all the way through.”

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Carol Rios said she is looking forward to the General Plan workshop and is excited to hear ideas from the public.

To get involved in OCRG, contact Seger at 925-308-4354 or Eve Diamond at 415-309-0611.
Press Release 9/17/09
Oakley Citizens tired of Sprawl
Residents of Knox and Michelle Lane announce our filing September 16,2009, of a petition signed by more than 10% of Oakley's registered voters with the Oakley City Clerk. This petition authorized by the state Election Code, requires that the City Council of Oakley either repeal its decision of July 11, 2009 approving the Cedar Wood subdivision or put the matter up to a vote of the City’s voters. The County registrar has 30 days to check the validity of each voter’s signature. Thereafter the City Council will choose its option. We ask the Council if it chooses to put the matter up to the voters, to require as it can, that the developer seeking this project, Discovery Builders, pay the costs of the election, not the taxpayers.

Archived Media
[OP: Oakley Press, CCT: Contra Costa Times, SFC: SF Chronicle]

December 2009
City: Anderson (re)takes City Council helm (OP:12/10/09)

November 2009
Rosewood: Unwilling to settle for council’s vision (OP:11/27/09)
Rosewood: Rosewood petition filed (OP:11/19/09)
City "Forum": General Plan on the table (OP:11/12/09)
OCRG Forum: Citizens campaign to save open space (OP:10/29/09)

October 2009
Rosewood: The railroading of Rosewood (OP:10/29/09)
Knox: Referendum petition to stop Oakley development fails to qualify (CCT:10/27/09)
Rosewood: Oakley residents seek referendum to stop proposed development (CCT:10/15/09)
Rosewood: Oakley council seeks, and delays, input (OP:10/15/09)
Hotchkiss: Long delay likely for East Cypress corridor plan (CCT:10/11/09)
Rosewood: Council caving to high-density slam (OP:10/09/09)
Hotchkiss: Judge puts brakes on Oakley development (OP:10/08/09)
Hotchkiss: Judge stops subdivision near delta levees (SFC:10/03/09)

September 2009
Rosewood: Another development draws opposition in Oakley (CCT:09/28/09)
Rosewood: Residents rally against project (OP:9/24/09)
Knox: Knox Lane project not wanted (OP:9/24/09)
Knox: Development gets angry opposition in Oakley (CCT:09/23/09)
Knox: Action, not ‘answers’ (OP:09/17/09)
Knox: Against the grain of green (OP:09/17/09)
Knox: Knox Lane project continued to October (OP:09/10/09)
Knox: Make council listen to citizens (OP:09/03/09)

August 2009 & earlier
OCRG: Citizens to challenge council’s responsiveness (OP:08/27/09)
Hotchkiss: Alliance sues Oakley over farmland (OP:07/30/09)
Hotchkiss: Oakley defends position (OP:07/30/09)
Knox: Tree removal penalty considered in Oakley (OP:07/16/09)
Hotchkiss: East Cypress plan gets environmental OK (OP:03/19/09)
Hotchkiss: Cypress plan gets back on track (OP:09/25/08)
Hotchkiss: Suit filed to stop Cypress development (OP:09/10/06)

Protests filed against proposed Oakley, Antioch power plants (CCT:12/07/09)
Discounts for energy hogs, new power plants in poor communities, and the CEO’s incredible expanding pension (SFBG:11/09)
Public invited to weigh in on proposed Oakley power plant(CCT:11/04/09)
Bay Area Public Interest Groups Protest PG&E's Power Plant Proposals (CD:11/03/09)

Oakley economic plan aims to create jobs (CCT:12/02/09)
OCGR Forum: Milchen to speak to entrepreneurs in Oakley (CCT:10/13/09)
Resident cheerleader flips over Oakley (OP:02/15/08)

2006 Economic Development
Oakley makes big retail plans (OP:09/25/06)
Council puts econ task force on hold (OP:09/15/06)
City may form an economic strategic plan: OAKLEY: Council considers task force to further development of local business, industry. (CCT:09/19/06)
Byline: Paula King
Sep. 19--With an ongoing focus on economic development and bringing valuable sales tax and jobs to Oakley, the city is contemplating the formation of a future economic development task force and strategic plan. First, the city will hold an all-day workshop for Oakley officials on economic development goals. A majority of the Oakley City Council saw the need for a community task force and economic development plan, but offered differing opinions on the timing of it. Originally, city staff proposed that task force members be appointed by early October, hold four meetings over the next few months and make a presentation to the council by ...

Current Media

PG&E: Protested (CCT:11/07/09)
Sprawl: ECC (SFC:10/03/09)
Density: Rosewood (CCT:9/28)
Density: Knox (OP:9/10)
Citizens: "Action, not ‘answers'"
(Media Archive)


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