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Letters to the Editor:

Line in the Sand wants Stoaks added to steering committee

Dear Mayor Dixon,

We are writing this open letter to you, as the councilperson overseeing the General Plan Update process, to request that you consider taking the steps necessary to add Tim Stoaks to the General Plan Update Steering Committee. 

Our political action committee, Line in the Sand, was originally formed in 2014 to oppose Measure Y, the city’s last attempt to update its General Plan. You will recall that Measure Y was defeated in spectacular fashion, not only because voters did not want to add massive development capacity in Newport Center, but also because they saw through the false claim that the measure would reduce traffic. 

Three of the five people you have selected to serve on the Steering Committee for this new attempt to update the General Plan were deeply involved in crafting and promoting Measure Y. Nancy Gardner and Debbie Stevens opposed it. 

Why not seize this opportunity to create a balanced committee and ensure that the 70 percent of residents who rejected Measure Y will feel adequately represented? Tim’s appointment would achieve that goal.

Tim has decades of relevant experience, the ability to commit all the time necessary to the process, and a history of involvement in major developments (annexation of Santa Ana Heights, OASIS, etc.). He was also one of the residents leading the charge against the phenomenally unpopular Museum House project, further proof that he has his finger on the pulse of the community. Most importantly, the November 2018 election showed that Tim has the trust of at least 18,422 voters.

What better way to deliver on your promise of building more transparency and trust than to add Tim to the Steering Committee?

We look forward to reading your response and are hopeful that this will be an easy issue for us to agree on.

Sincerely,

Board of Directors

Line in the Sand

Not happy with the General Plan steering committee appointees

On Tuesday, the City Council will finalize the appointments to the General Plan Steering Committee. Mr. Ed Selich and Mr. Larry Tucker are recommended to be appointed to this committee.

If the General Plan update adds additional development, as I expect that it will, the Land Use Element of the General Plan will require a vote of the people to be implemented. After the Measure Y debacle in 2014, this is likely to be a difficult task as I believe that many residents still remember the duplicitous way that the city presented the last General Plan. Recall that 69 percent of the residents voted against the General Plan after it became widely known that the promise of improving traffic and density was a false promise.

Because of this, the appointments to the GP Steering Committee are especially important. Many people, myself included, have a deep skepticism that this process will proceed in a trustworthy and transparent manner. Multiple requests to the council to commit to a ballot statement that delineates added growth have been ignored, raising my concern level substantially that another end run around the voters is imminent.

If enough of us feel that the process is flawed or weighted against us, the General Plan will fail again at the ballot box. You may recall that in 2014, social media posts and viral emails readily trumped all the consultant money spent to pass this plan. These platforms are more powerful than ever. The recommendation of a trusted neighbor will almost always carry more weight than the glossy fliers in the mailbox and our residents are far more educated and aware politically than they were in 2014. 

In this context, the appointment of Ed Selich and to a lesser degree Larry Tucker are incomprehensible. I cannot imagine how you could subvert this process any more effectively than by appointing these two men. We need to build trust, not undermine it.

Mr. Selich and Mr. Tucker were instrumental in preparing the 2014 General Plan update and were front and center in repeating the mantra that it would reduce traffic and density. Mr. Selich wrote that “it is virtually impossible for the average voter to understand Measure Y” without reading every document he was reading, adding 

unfortunately, most residents do not have the time to do so and must defer to those they trust to interpret this information. Mr. Tucker claimed that the opponents were misrepresenting the impacts of Measure Y but then touted the money that the city would get from the upcoming development agreements he anticipated coming out of Measure Y. To my knowledge, neither man has acknowledged that the voters knew exactly what they wanted.

Character matters in this world. When Mr. Selich very purposefully added 3,700 pages to the Museum House petition, many believe he undermined both our democracy and the very people he had sworn to serve. It was one of the most unethical political actions I have ever witnessed. To include Mr. Selich on the Steering Committee is an absolute slap in the face to those of us who were hoping for a process that we could support.

You will make the decision that you feel is best. I will do the same. 

Thank you,

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach