November 25, 2019 - As a resident of Catheys Valley for over fifty years with property in both the Ag/Working Landscape and residential/mountain home classifications, I request that that the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors vote “no initiation of amendments to the Catheys Valley Community Plan”.
At the 24 October 2019 meeting of the Catheys Valley Community Planning Advisory Committee, Supervisor Long said he brought the idea of amendments to the Catheys Valley Community Planning Advisory Committee (CVCPAC) because he had heard from some in the ranching community that they wanted out of the current planning area. I do not believe that changes to the Catheys Valley Community Plan (CVCP) should not be based on the wants of a few; the plan should represent the wants of a majority of Catheys Valley residents and community.
Planning Director Sarah Williams stated at the 24 October 2019 meeting that, since the inception of the CVCP in 2012, only four projects have come up for review by the CVCPAC: two involving a subdivision, one a cell tower, and the other involving The Oasis Market & Cafe building. None of these involved the ranching community. There have not been any problems resulting from the CVCP; the requested changes do not solve any problems.
I thought that we lived in a democracy in which majority rules. Somehow, despite the fact that the majority of the letters (including mine), comments, and speakers at the 24 October meeting were in favor of keeping the CVCP as it was and making no changes, five of the CVCPAC members voted, not to represent the wishes of the community, but instead to represent their own point of view and personal feelings. The mission of the CVCPAC is to represent the community in a credible, conscientious, and fair manner. This did not happen.
- The CVCPAC Chair Charli McCord stated in correspondence included in the meeting packet: "There is expected to be one meeting, and one meeting only…." So apparently the end result was decided ahead of the meeting and gathering input from more of the community was not an option and neither welcomed, considered, or valued.
- The opinions of fourteen community members in the form of emails and letters were delivered to CVCPAC members prior to the meeting and the vast majority, eleven, of those stated concerns and requested “no change” to the plan.
- Close to twenty people spoke during public comment and the majority voiced concerns and requested “no change” to the plan.
- During discussion, the majority of the CVCPAC members expressed their personal opinions regarding the size of the plan. One member even said that he never believed in the CVCP.
- The result was that the majority of the CVCPAC did not vote based on what they were hearing from the majority of the community they are supposed to be representing, but on their own personal feelings. Regardless of what they were hearing from the majority of the community, the majority of the CVCPAC members voted to push through a drastic change to the CVCP based on their own feelings and opinions, not the community’s.
Now is not the time to direct the Planning Department to initiate making major revisions to the CVCP given that the current CVCP isn’t causing any problems. The CVCP should be scheduled to go through a longer and more thorough review process that involves the entire Catheys Valley community once some of the Planning Department’s other more pressing priorities have been addressed.
I ask the members of the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors that, if the Board of Supervisors cannot vote to keep the CVCP unchanged, then that they at least table the discussion to give the Catheys Valley Community more time to consider the options. Before changing or updating the CVCP, questionnaires should be sent out to every property owner in our zip code to do a survey of what the Catheys Valley Community wants, additional meetings should be held to iron out any needed changes and updates, and the CVCP should come back at a later time for Board discussion and direction. This should be a true community effort, not based on the demands of a few. I believe that any changes to a plan that affects every landowner in Catheys Valley should represent the vision, wants, and needs of the majority of Catheys Valley residents, not those of a few.
Once again, this issue is becoming divisive in the Catheys Valley community, just as it did prior to its adoption in 2012. I see from the agenda packet that the Chair of the Catheys Valley Community Planning Advisory Committee Charli McCord has submitted a letter that states the following “Recently the committee voted 5 to 4 to reduce the Catheys Valley Plan. This continues to be a point of contention in our community. If there is any possibility of reducing the contention or disruption in our community, I would like to make that effort. Therefore, I respectfully request that the Board of Supervisors postpone this agenda item to a later date and allow the committee time to approach the community again. I believe that there is a possibility that we, as a community and a committee, can do better.”
On this, I do agree with Chair McCord. The CVCP is a document that has been in place since 2012 and should go through a thorough formal review process that involves the entire community. This would include educating our current population, conducting a survey about what our current population wants in the immediate future as well as what we want as our community’s 10 and 20 year goals going forward.
I urge the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors to not vote to further undo the work of the people of Catheys Valley who spent fifteen years working on the CVCP.
- Please vote “no initiation of amendments to the Catheys Valley Community Plan,” and direct the Planning Department to schedule a more thoughtful and community-inclusive plan review, possible amendments, and discussion at a later time prior to any votes on the CVCP by the Board of Supervisors.