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Let’s Work To Eliminate Obstacles

The recent Grand Jury recommendation to reinstate the Southern Tuolumne County Planning Commission is not a progressive decision. Doing so would actually be a move in the wrong direction. Tuolumne County was the only county in the state to have multiple, recognized planning commissions and that structure was creating duplicate work for county staff, increasing costs for  tax payers and unnecessarily delaying General Plan updates and the project review process. The seven members on the existing Planning Commission are all appointed by our elected County Supervisors and represent the five Districts in the county that include Southern Tuolumne County.

I appreciate the work the grand jury does. The group makes a valuable contribution however, increased costs and unnecessary delays are something we should be working to minimize and eliminating duplicate Planning Commissions did just that. Tuolumne County’s economy is still struggling from the recession, Rim Fire and government shutdown. Our schools continue to experience declining student enrollment as families move to other areas to find work. None of which is beneficial to our economy. The solution is job retention and job creation.

I appreciate and agree with the Grand Jury belief that county residents want to provide input and be a part of the process. In fact, I would like to see more public involvement and participation in decision making. However, the Grand Jury discounted that the opportunity for public involvement already exists and has for some time. We need to encourage expansion by our existing employers and create an attractive environment for potential startups and businesses considering relocation. I’m in no way advocating a “development at all cost” approach. The reality is our current process provides for an extremely thorough vetting of potential projects and throughout the entire process citizens have the opportunity to communicate concerns to their area Supervisor, provide public comment, both written and verbal, at Planning Commission and Board of Supervisor meetings to have their voices heard. When our elected Board of Supervisors disbanded the additional design review committees, Planning Commissions and planning advisory boards, the project review process for Tuolumne County was made more in step with the rest of California. Reversing that decision, in any way, would be a significant step backward. We should be doing all we can to eliminate and streamline unnecessary barriers, hurdles, obstacles and road blocks needed for our County economic vitality and to maintain and enhance the quality of life we all want in this County.

Written by Darrell Slocum