Better planning

To the Editor:

The Board of Supervisors disbanded community Citizen Review Committees. Thus the current developer’s proposed Columbia project had limited local input, inviting conflict.

What do the citizens of Columbia or any Tuolumne town want future development of their community to look like? If our towns don’t have a plan, they should. Following our gross county plan, anything zoned applicably is fair game. The drawback is that developers offer finished plans assuming the community will support the Planning Commission’s recommendations. The Columbia Dollar Store fiasco demonstrates that the public doesn’t support that approach, which frustrates everyone involved. So again, a developer working without local citizens’ vision and guidance produces a mess. Without understanding what the citizen’s want, how can developers hope to get support? Citizen’s review is necessary, wise and efficient.

Building denser towns supports local businesses. Following the Los Angeles business strip model discourages lively desirable town centers. Let’s consider the economic value of tourism when we build. Let’s build deliberately to attract tourists into town centers. We have small towns that most travelers long to visit. What tourist travels to visit a shopping mall?

Also, we should require economic impact studies of businesses coming to our communities to insure that they will support living wages rather that paying sub-poverty wages that make our communities poorer. Perhaps we should favor smaller projects using a community-architect-designed growth plans built by local contractors and workers—striving for beautiful towns.

Our Board of Supervisors seems committed to pushing aside local common sense and clearing all opposition to developer’s projects, assuming somehow the developer knows what’s best for us. Upcoming revisions of the County General Plan reflect that developer bias; we need to fashion a General Plan that reflects and assures our communities’ visions and our relationship to mountain environs. Time to get involved!

Robert Carabas


Community content

To the Editor:

I too am very disappointed in the current content of this newspaper.

After all the ads are taken out there is very little local/national news. So I usually enjoy the "community" section. But on Dec. 31, the story was about an animal shelter in Bend, Oregon. Those community pages could have reported on the many animal services here in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. Sonora has the Humane Society, Animal Control, FOAC (Friends of Animal Community) and Sonora Cat Rescue. These four groups work and give countless volunteer hours to facilitate adoptions for hundreds of homeless animals year after year. And with each adoption comes a wonderful heartfelt story, purrfect for your end of year "community" pages.

Martha Rosenbaum