The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Reversed their Previous Straw Vote and Voted 3-2 against Dutra’s Asphalt Plant Proposal!

Supervisors Zane, Carrillo & Brown voted against (Kerns & Kelly for)

June 9, 2009

The Dutra Asphalt Plant hearing before the Board of Supervisors went on until 7:00 p.m. into the evening.

Valerie Brown was the first to speak when it was time for the Board to express their opinions (following public testimony). I have notes on what each Supervisor said, but the short version of her response was that she had problems with the health issue implications and would not be supporting the proposal.

Shirlee Zane then spoke passionately about relatives who had died at an early age of cancer caused by chemicals/toxins due to living next to a golf course. She said she knew the importance of jobs, but could not support the threat to public health.

Efren Carrillo spoke at length, and then said he could not support the project going forward. He repeatedly mentioned his distress (for lack of a better word) that Petaluma, and the city council had come in late with objections to the proposal, mentioning Mayor Torliatt in specific (she has spoken at both of the last two hearings before the Board). He also said this reminded him of the water issue, and that the cities and county need to get along, and work together.

Mike Kerns said he understood the problems people were raising, but thinks it is a good project – and needed. He offered several changes to the Conditions of Approval including an enclosure that had been requested for the grinding (?) area, and several other items. I have the notes if you really want to know and the PD doesn’t cover it all. Sup. Kerns also thanked Jared Huffman, Mark Leno and Lynn Woolsey for the forum held in Petaluma a little over a week ago. He said he had watched the recording, and expressed gratitude to Assemblyman Huffman for holding the hearing/forum.

Most of the Supervisors took note that in terms of the transportation and GHG issues, it was an ideal site. (rail, 101, barges) Port Sonoma can’t be far behind. One of them noted the irony when they heard from opponents that the plant had negative environmental impacts but should be moved somewhere else.

Paul Kelley said he thought it was amusing that people who objected had various pieces of information wrong. He mentioned his amusement about various things several times. He was in favor of the project, and believed that the Dutra application had done a good job of mitigations. The plant they propose to use is the cleanest in the industry.

The public was terrific. Most were well informed, and focused on their issues. One man brought in a sound devise that played birds singing at a specific sound level, then played the sound of an asphalt plant at 65 dbls (the average) and then he cranked it up to the sound level that would be the “high” end of the average. It was very illuminating or whatever the auditory version of that might be.

My thinking is that the General Plan and zoning are the rules for our county. The General Plan is often referred to as the “Bible”. I think that goes too far, but you get the idea. We just adopted (after years negotiation) the new General Plan and hundreds of people were involved (make that thousands). The zoning is also something we all have agreed to and live by, although it is not always the perfect solution for many of us vis-à-vis our needs. It is the “contract” we/citizens have with the county. It was mentioned by an attorney for the Petaluma groups as part of his testimony. He made a good case as to why the proposal was not in compliance.

As to the next steps: staff was directed to incorporate the changes to the Conditions of Approval and return with them on July 21st when the final vote on the proposal will occur. Staff will also come back with a Resolution that denies the project. That way – no matter the final vote, they’ll have the final documents necessary to complete the process.

Thanks to everyone who showed up and participated. It made a difference, and it is wonderful that our community is so engaged. People were there from all over the county.

Rue Furch