Introduction


Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fletcher Gets Board Consensus

[ed. - Fellowship of Friends political operative Nick Spaulding has for years been working on behalf of Fellowship landowners (and, some say, for Oregon House rancher Tom Richards) to loosen development restrictions in Oregon House. Now, with 5th District Supervisor Randy Fletcher's sympathetic ear, prospects for the Fellowship's development plans appear brighter.]

"Nick Spaulding wrote in a letter to eTerritorial Dispatch, July 29, 2015:
Fletcher Gets Board Consensus

Background

After the 1996 General Plan’s adoption, policy 16LUP became Yuba Ordinance 12:80:060 et al, and balanced rural property rights against Calif. Dept. of Fish & Game deer herd restrictions. Without 16LUP, the density for residences outside rural community boundaries was 1 single-family home per 20 or 40 acre parcel. With 16LUP, the density could be 1 residence per 5 acres IF half of the total parcel acreage was dedicated to open space. So, if you had 40 acres, with 16LUP you could create 8 residential lots, IF the home sites were “clustered” together and thereby leaving the rest to open space use.

The consensus of agricultural professionals then, was that 16LUP clustered housing is superior to checker boarding the foothills with big 20 and 40 acre parcels with a single house in the middle.

Rural property rights policy “16LUP” is soon to receive a public hearing promised over 4 years ago.

Just as this political football was about to be kicked down the road for another few years, Yuba County’s 5th District Supervisor, Randy Fletcher differed with Planning Director, Wendy Hartman’s version of recent events. Hartman’s staff Report stated that the Board and Planning Commission’s decision on handling 16LUP was that it would mean an Amendment to the General Plan, and it was too late to review it now, but could do so in the next General Plan Update,” still years away.


Fletcher stated at the July 21st Board meeting that the Board’s June 4th decision was actually to handle the 16LUP issue separately, so as not to slow down approval of the rest of the Draft Development Code’s provisions. The official audio recordings from Board and Planning Commission meetings appear to support Fletcher’s recollection. Both Planning Commission Chair Alyssa Lindman and Warner Phillips noted Hartman’s Staff report version of events differed from theirs.

Consensus was reached when Fletcher proposed a comprehensive review and hearing on 16LUP be scheduled before the Planning Commission in the coming months. The Commission would report back to the Board. If the Commission finds some version of 16LUP to be consistent with the 2030 General Plan, it could be presented to the Board for inclusion into the new Development Code and Ordinances. After the 1996 General Plan’s adoption, policy 16LUP became Yuba Ordinance 12:80:060 et al, and balanced rural property rights against Calif. Dept. of Fish & Game deer herd restrictions.

Without 16LUP, the density for residences outside rural community boundaries was 1 single-family home per 20 or 40 acre parcel. With 16LUP, the density could be 1 residence per 5 acres IF half of the total parcel acreage was dedicated to open space. So, if you had 40 acres, with 16LUP you could create 8 residential lots, IF the home sites were “clustered” together and thereby leaving the rest to open space use.

The consensus of agricultural professionals then, was that 16LUP clustered housing is superior to checker boarding the foothills with big 20 and 40 acre parcels with a single house in the middle.

The current controversy began when, in 2011, Planner Hartman told the Board, and the public, that 16 LUP would not be discussed during the General Plan update process, but rather later, in the structuring of the new Draft Development Code. Then there would be public input, along with Board and Commission input and review.

Now, 4 years later, the Development Code is being crafted Community Development Director Kevin Mallen stated that 16LUP is a General Plan issue, not a Development Code issue. So, the chance to get it recognized in this round of General Plan and Development Code had passed.

[ed. - Further background on the story:]


"Nick Spaulding wrote in a letter to eTerritorial Dispatch, February 9, 2015:
Deceptive Development Code from Yuba County Staff?

Deceptive politicians can be (and have been) voted out of office. But what about un-elected county staff, when they create politically motivated, utopian ordinances like those in the 500-page Draft Yuba County Development Code?

Staff’s words are deceptive when saying new policies reflect “best practices.” Best practices really means practices that the urban-slanted American Planning Association and their consultant members have decided are “best” for the rest of us, regardless of any true economic impacts on local farmers, industries, businesses, families, property owners and taxpayers.

After three years, Staff and their consultants finally presented the draft of ordinances to Supervisors. Staff’s “best practices” promoted concepts like “Number of Livestock Per Animal Unit (AU),” where Staff attempted to regulate the numbers and types of animals allowed per acre of rural property, regardless of the of property’s topography or grazing capacity. Their chart showed a formula where 20 chickens are equal to 4 goats, or 2 pigs, or 1 cow, etc., when thinking of how many AU’s would be allowed on your acreage.

Deceptive, because this level of political engineering was never mentioned in any of staff’s “public input” sessions, but when finally brought to light just two weeks ago, Supervisors acknowledged extremely negative public feedback and directed staff to eliminate the concept. Finally, real, practical public input was being considered by staff.

Oddly, back in August, 2010, Planning Dir. Wendy Hartman stated “Currently, the County does not have sufficient funding to prepare these two essential implementation measures of our 2030 General Plan.” Hartman wrote those words on the County’s application to Sacramento for the $378,000 Sustainable Communities Grant in order to pay for this Development Code and a yet-to-come Climate Action Plan.

How is it possible that Yuba County did not have sufficient funding for this “once every 25 years” update for these most basic land use authority documents? And, over the previous 25 years, was there no budget set-asides for any funding for the General Plans update that is required by law? So, our $1.25 Million General Plan was primarily paid for with liberal policy grant money, and now our new Development Code and Climate Action Plan are also being paid for with mostly grant money?

Question: When conservative Yuba County goes to liberal Sacramento and begs for a liberal “Sustainable Communities Planning Grant” what will Sacramento be expecting for their money? Answer: Something
very green?

Seems that’s how Yuba got a grant when 164 other applicants didn’t. Yuba did give Sacramento something very green. Yuba’s new General Plan recently won a green award from the Sacramento Area Assoc. of Environmental Professionals. But, Yuba County historically votes 60% conservative, while the State of California goes opposite with 60% liberal. It’s a rural versus urban situation. Supervisors had directed Staff to create a minimally green plan that would follow, but not go beyond state law. That’s not what Staff has delivered.

So, Yuba County’s Billion Dollar rural, agricultural and related industrial economy is in danger of being controlled by staff level urban designers more suited to Marin or San Francisco area counties. Deception comes in handy when trying to get a conservative county to swallow a big, liberal land use development code.

Planning and development directors are un-elected employees, and they are making north of $130,000 a year. Also, grant money not only paid for consultants, it also covered much of staff’s time to work on the code. Would less grant money have also meant less staff paid hours, and less green in the code?

Nick Spaulding
Oregon House, Ca.

Letter to eTerritorial Dispatch, March 23, 2015:
Spaulding Is On Your Side

I and many other residents of Yuba County have been interacting with Nick Spaulding, for several years now regarding the 2030 General Plan and its implementation now, through the new proposed code ordinances that are being challenged by many residents. Nick is a tireless advocate for personal liberties and property rights. We appreciate that he researches proposed local land use issues and updates concerned citizens of the codes ramifications to their property rights. Nick looks through a prism that sets aside all the nice sounding, honey- coated words, like “sustainable growth” and “environmentally friendly”. Nick will tell you what they really mean to the eroding of your property rights and freedom to use your own property. If you want an advocate, call Nick Spaulding.

Frank & Marcia Cecil
Browns Valley, Ca.

[ed. - A surprising rift between Fellowship members Steven Dambeck and Nick Spaulding?]

"Steven Dambeck" wrote in a letter to eTerritorial Dispatch, on March 9, 2015:
Doesn't Agree with Spaulding letter

To address the recent reckless and inappropriate attacks leveled by Nick Spaulding against the Yuba County Planning Director, Wendy Hartman, both in these pages and at County meetings: Mr. Spaulding paints Ms. Hartman as a woman with vast powers and evil intentions. In fact, her role is primarily that of information facilitator and problem solver; a role she plays with great professionalism. He should know that land use policy comes not from staff, but from the community's elected leadership.

Zoning ordinances are currently being revised. This is tricky business. It involves implementing local, state and federal policy, while balancing the directives of County leadership and the diverse needs of County residents. Ms. Hartman has guided this process well, actively soliciting involvement from stakeholders throughout the County, and effectively incorporating their feedback. Those of us who are actively involved in the process see that our land use needs will be more effectively met under the revised codes than they are being currently. And we see a County staff that is committed -- as never before -- to helping build a vibrant and prosperous community.

If instead of slinging mud from the sidelines, Mr. Spaulding would take the trouble to attend these events in a constructive way and to help find viable solutions to some of the thorny issues that confront us, he would find Ms. Hartman to be, as the rest of us do, a positive and collaborative partner in the process; one who is attentive and responsive to our needs, and focused on helping us find the best solutions possible.

Steven Dambeck
Oregon House, Ca.

Former Yuba County 5th District Supervisor Hal Stocker's letter published in the Appeal-Democrat, October 20, 2015:
A while back, Tom Richards complained in the local papers about rough treatment he got from Yuba County in terms of refusal to re-zone 5,000 acres in south Oregon House into smaller acres...so he could put in a big subdivision...and cash in big.

Now we have Nick Spaulding, on much the same kick, going along with Richards (as usual), with letters in the papers.

The lands they want to develop are outside the community boundary and therefore restricted to larger parcels (such as 20, or 40, or 60 aces, whereas smaller 5-acre parcels are allowed only within the community boundary).

The policy here, which has always been popular with the locals, is to build most of the new houses within the established communities, on smaller parcels (5 acres), while maintaining the rest of the area as "open space"...of larger parcels.

Through the years, a few locals have been preoccupied with development of the Dobbins-Oregon House area, such as condominiums east of Collins Lake and, later, a community water-sewer system along Rices Crossing Road. Fortunately, the community organized — with a vengeance — and shot down both items.

With our horrendous drought, it would foolhardy to consider new subdivisions in Dobbins-Oregon House, when there is not enough water to go around. And some rainy years would not solve the problem. We need to plan for, and mitigate, future water shortages.

And we must not forget the extreme danger of fires in Dobbins-Oregon House, demonstrated by catastrophic fires in 1997 and 1999 (Williams and Pendola).

And as patiently explained to me a few times by long-term fire tower manager and guru, Greg Crompton, housing projects on one-way-out roads, such as Rices Crossing Road and Dixon Hill Road, are a particularly bad idea, since residents are likely to get trapped, with no ready way out, by a north wind-driven fire. Talk about more catastrophes.

Hopefully, Spaulding's subdivision schemes fail with the county, with our new foothill supervisor leading the way. If not, it may be up to the community to put things right (such as with DOACT, in the past) and make sure Mr. Spaulding and the Fellowship are responsible community members...with all of us having a chance to enjoy, and even luxuriate in, our natural, hard to beat foothill country.

Hal Stocker
Challenge

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