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Supervisors, can you hear this citizen now?


Editor's note: Ann Crosby, a resident of the eastern Goleta Valley, waited three hours Tuesday to testify before the county Board of Supervisors about land-use matters in her community.

How did the supervisors treat her?

Supervisors Salud Carbajal and Brooks Firestone left the room as she spoke, but later said they could hear her statement on the PA system. Supervisor Joni Gray left the dais to confer with someone in the audience.

A fourth supervisor, Susan Rose -- board chairwoman and Ms. Crosby's own supervisor -- left her chair to talk to a county employee.

Only Supervisor Joe Centeno gave this citizen his full attention.

If you receive similar treatment from the supervisors or members of city councils or school boards, let us know.

Here's Ms. Crosby's testimony:

We looked in vain in the (county Planning Department's) Work Program 2005-2008 for a community plan for unincorporated Goleta Valley. We cannot accept the tired logic that we currently have a current Goleta Community Plan, because more than half the land it pertained to is now the city of Goleta, and because it is 12 years old. Both reasons render it completely invalid as a guideline for planning in our area.

Concerned residents of the 2nd District want a meaningful community plan, whether that means starting over on writing the plan or updating the existing plan.

Just recently you, the board, made a statement to the state Housing & Community Development that you favor local control of communities over their land use. That is exactly what we want: local control of our neighborhoods, as outlined in our own community plan.

What is distressing to us is that the county has thrown away funds on ridiculous projects that could be spent on proper planning for our area.

The county wasted $10,000 on elaborate site and floor plans on the county campus for 150 workers earning up to $139,000; this frivolous expense had the goal, as described by HCD Director Ed Moses of "studying the financing tools; it's not a plan."

If this is an accurate description of its purpose, it is appalling that HCD spent this money on a housing proposal that the Board of Supervisors not only had not approved, but was completely unaware of its existence.

In another irresponsible example, the county wasted $16,000 on a marketing study to try to convince Noleta residents that unbridled growth is good. An HCD strategy memo stated that "the main obstacle that we will potentially face is neighborhood groups . . . " Here is a case of the taxpayers' money being used against taxpayers.

Most recently, the county literally threw away several thousand dollars in generating a meaningless report, presented recently by Ed Moses.

The report supposedly had the goal of enforcing affordable housing restrictive covenants, which is admirable. But through careless oversight of the investigation procedures, the lion's share of money was spent for an inexperienced intern who had no background in affordable housing investigation or enforcement.

So when the county wants to waste taxpayers' money in frivolous pursuit of plans to increase housing, there is money; when the county wants to fund growth, there's money; when the county wants to waste money on telling the community that they should accept growth, there's money; when the county wants to investigate fraud in the affordable housing program, there's money.

Yet, when the taxpayers ask for some of their own money back to adequately plan for this growth, we are told there is no money.

That is wrong. The taxpayers of Goleta Valley want back our share of the taxes we have paid to the county, to fund a meaningful Goleta Community Plan within the work period under discussion today.

Supervisor Rose, we ask you, as our elected representative of the citizens of Goleta Valley, to lead the effort in convincing your fellow supervisors to grant this important request by your constituents.

Ann Crosby lives in the unincorporated area of the Goleta Valley and is a board member of the Coalition for Sensible Planning.