"Agenda 21" Foes Stage Protest at Workshop

At last week's "Plan Bay Area" workshop in Napa, visiting protesters loudly opposed the process, while county residents appeared divided—when their voices could be heard.

For more than two hours Jan. 19, officials and residents of Napa County and other North Bay communities gathered at the for a , one in a series held throughout the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties in recent months.

The meeting, which began with an informal buffet, also drew a group of sign-carrying demonstrators who challenged the process, saying officials had already determined the outcome. A videographer followed the protest group.

Among the more prominent people on hand were Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd, the county's representative to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission; Upvalley supervisor Diane Dillon; Solano County Supervisor and former Suisun City mayor Jim Spering; American Canyon Mayor Leon Garcia; Sonoma Mayor Joanne Sanders and Napa City Council member and county supervisorial candidate .

Unhappy Upvalley

Tempers were already on the rise before the formal proceedings got under way. Napa County Planning Director Hilary Gitelman ate her supper to the sound of a critical Upvalley voice: Sitting across the table with vintner Volker Eisele, Angwin resident Kellie Anderson angrily accused Gitelman and other county officials of predetermining the outcome of public meetings.

Anderson, who also spoke during a public comment period, was not the only dissenter at the Elks: As at several other workshops in the series, a vocal group of protesters came to town for the event, carrying signs and making statements opposing the effort to coordinate a regional plan for housing and transportation over the next 25 years.

The "One Bay Area" regional planning initiative is mandated by a state law, S.B. 375, requiring metropolitan regions including the San Francisco Bay Area to create strategies for growth that will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

A secret plan to take away our cars?

About a dozen of those attending Thursday's workshop were demonstrators from outside Napa County who have been present at earlier workshops to protest the regional planning effort, which they say is secretly driven by Agenda 21, a non-binding 1992 United Nations agreement on sustainable development.

"ONE BAY AREA is UN AGENDA 21" read a flyer distributed by the group Democrats Against UN Agenda 21.

The plan for regional development is "faceless, nameless, empty tyranny," said the group's James Bennett during public comment.

Many of those in the protest group appeared to be senior citizens, several of whom said in public comment they were afraid the regional plan would force them out of their cars and into high-density residential areas.

Occasionally shouting down other voices, protesters also alluded to living conditions in the Soviet Union, read from The Communist Manifesto and derided bicycling and what one woman repeatedly called "silly little green cars."

Not everyone can afford to drive

Noting the evidently white, affluent and older crowd at the workshop, both worker Cara Mae McGarry and Tony Norris urged officials to consider the many county residents who can't afford automobiles and were not represented at the workshop.

Speaking in favor of alternative transportation, Napa residents Chuck McMinn of the and , Genji Schmeder of Napa and Sandy Elles of the all encouraged regional officials to continue seeking sustainable solutions.

Both the workshop audience and the protest crowd were smaller in Napa than they were reported to have been in other cities on the Plan Bay Area tour.

Fewer than 100 people attended, not including organizers, officials and a half-dozen or so police and private security officers who kept a close eye on the movements of workshop participants.

The final workshop in the series is scheduled for Wednesday evening in Fairfield.

Clarification: Schmeder, while a member of the as indicated in the original posted version of this article, did not refer to the club or to population growth in his public comments. Elles, asked after the workshop whether her comments were on her own behalf or on behalf of the Farm Bureau, answered in the affirmative to both.

Louisa Hufstader January 25, 2012 at 10:38 PM
"CaSunset," we don't allow posts from people who seek to conceal their identities through the use of "screen names." The general rule of thumb is that if you wouldn't introduce yourself to someone face-to-face by that name, then you're not being up-front enough to take part in our discussions. I've kept a copy of your comment in case you did not, so if you wish to re-post with an actual name I can provide it to you, just email me at napa@patch.com. Thanks for understanding that we are all about transparency here.
Genji Schmeder January 26, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Good to see that Napa Patch doesn't tolerate posting with concealed identity. This is a problem with the Napa Register where effective anonymity seems to encourage taunting and irresponsible posts. Having been unable to persuade Register management to require actual names, I no longer post to their discussions except to correct mistaken attributions to myself in articles.
Louisa Hufstader January 26, 2012 at 02:29 PM
I know what you mean, Genji. Not every Patch site's editor is as strict about the policy as I tend to be over here, but not everyone's community has such a glaring example of what can happen when anyone is allowed to comment under any screen name. Patch is a gathering where we speak to one another as community members; I'm the host, and my least favorite part of that is asking people to leave when they insist on wearing masks instead of engaging face to face. But somebody has to do it. I appreciate your taking part in the conversations. Thanks.
CaSunset January 27, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Dear Louisa and other commentators: I have sent an e-mail and the explanation of why I use a common screen name known by many in my community of Newark. I take umbrage at the accusation that I "sought to conceal my identity through the use of a screen name" subterfuge. Just because you and the others do not know me, any more than you would know me by my 'other' name (Mary Shambaugh) does not imply I am a bad, sneaky person. I doubt that this would have happened had I agreed with the status quo commentary prevalent for this topic. This is the name I choose to be known as in the internet realm where privacy concerns are also of big concern these days. Should I be willing to submit to a background check if I disagree with someone's opinion? Knowing my name will mean nothing to anyone on Napa, I am not active there. I believe in staying active in my own community. Watch what you 'assume' about others Genji, is the moral here. You know what they say about that... yet I will not be deterred. Shall we compare which types of cars we drive next and who is more concerned about the environment? What is this, the locker room? Really, accept that people will not all agree with you. If I was attempting subterfuge, I could just as easily make up a name. This was a juvenile approach to an adult situation.
CaSunset January 27, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Re-posting my "opinion" that was originally judged not 'inappropriate' but rather - inappropriately: "Sustainable Development" places human beings lower on the rung of importance. If we gain the whole world, but lose our freedom to choose "who, what, where, when and why" we live here, how happy will we truly be? We already pay 54% more in electricity costs than neighboring states, and 29% more than the national average, just so we can 'invest' in renewable energy (which isn't cost-effective as its been touted) plus, there are laws against where we can place those types, such as windmills, etc. Personally, I don't care for rude protesting, but after following this Agenda, I see these folks not having many options as effective (though I still believe rational debate is best served politely). Will we grow so dependent on "Commune Planners" b/c their tactics price us out of choices in every aspect of our lives, that we become like China, where the people living in those mandated buildings are commiting suicide for lack of hope in a personally chosen future? Facts are facts, The Plan is for 9 metropolitan areas in the country, where everything else is off limits, based on their own maps I've seen. No more states' rights, no more personal freedoms. Is this what we want? Can you see why these protesters are getting a little rude? I can.


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