Shell-Exxon Tries End-Run Around Wildlife Habitat Protection Laws in Chino Hills
News from http://www.hillsforeveryone.org/
Shell-Exxon Development on East L.A. County Pinch-point Enrages CommunityIf you missed the Notice of Preparation meeting held by the City of Diamond Bar on Wednesday May 16, 2007 -- boy, did you miss out!
Who knew there would be so much opposition in Diamond Bar? Only now are the residents learning about the decisions their City Council has been quietly making for nearly a year. Those decisions have set a path to relocate the County-owned golf course from Grand and Golden Springs to Rowland Heights. The new golf facility would be adjacent to, and facilitated by, the development of Shell's 3,600 houses along the 57 freeway. EDAW, the consultant firm hired by the City of Diamond Bar to prepare the Environmental Impact Report for the 3,600 unit Shell-Aera project, ran the Notice of Preparation meeting. Participants saw essentially the same plan for 3,600 housing units (and 40,000 more vehicle trips a day) that Shell-Aera has been touting for four years.
Two Diamond Bar Council members and representatives from Shell-Aera attended the meeting as well as several hundred residents from all over the region.
When one audience member asked those who opposed the project to please stand, nearly the entire audience rose to their feet. As you can see below it was a very visual thumbs down!
Other points of interest from the meeting:
As the formal presentation concluded, the audience was told only a few questions would be allowed and all further comments were to be directed to the court reporters who would type them out on a one on one basis. The crowd responded with a spontaneous and very loud "NO" insisting that a "Public meeting should have public comments." Organizers relented and fielded more questions from the aggravated crowd.
When an audience member asked questions about the pre-annexation and pre-development agreement between the City of Diamond Bar and Shell-Aera the public Q&A session was shut down. (As you may recall this agreement was approved just days before Christmas and strongly favors Shell-Aera interests. For example, the City agreed to freeze developer fees for 25 years. ) Many attendees thanked Hills For Everyone for mailing out the meeting notification postcard. It was certainly frustrating to Diamond Bar residents that their own City chose not to robustly inform them of this important meeting.
Development draws fire in diamond bar
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
By Caroline An, Staff Writer 5/17/07
DIAMOND BAR - Aera Energy officials and local residents clashed at a meeting Wednesday over a proposed 3,600 residential and mixed-use development. The meeting at Diamond Bar Center was about what areas an environmental study should analyze, with residents wanting to know about the effects on wildlife and open space. Aera Energy is proposing to build a maximum of 3,600 homes, with nearly 2,800 homes to be developed on 1,940 acres that could be annexed into Diamond Bar. The proposed development calls for restoring 1,600 acres that was home to cattle grazing and oil wells to open space.
More than 150 residents from Rowland Heights, Hacienda Heights, Diamond Bar and Brea became frustrated after the public comment segment ended, and they were told to submit their questions in writing or verbally to the nearby staff. Residents then began shouting "it's a public meeting."
"With 55 minutes to go, they stopped the questioning," said John Martin, a Diamond Bar resident since 1973. "The meeting was just fragmented."
David Doyle, Diamond Bar's assistant city manager, said residents with specific project questions could talk to city and Aera officials in the room.
Diamond Bar Councilman Jack Tanaka said he was surprised by the abrupt ending. "It is obvious that more town hall meetings are needed," Tanaka said, adding that he would ask Mayor Steve Tye for his input.
George Basye, Aera vice-president, said that the meeting was the first in a long process. Aera officials said they believe it was a good project and with the growing job market in southern Los Angeles and northern Orange counties, building new homes is necessary.
In the more than three decades as a Diamond Bar resident, Martin said the city has gone from "country living" to the traffic-congested community that it is today. Martin said that he trusts the City Council will act in good faith, but was skeptical of Aera's intentions. "I'm not sure they understand that this is the biggest development. There should be numerous town hall meetings," he said.
Traffic remained the No. 1 concern of residents. Mike Hughes, president of the Hacienda Heights Improvement Association, believes the project - if it moves forward - will drive long-time residents out of the area. "We should leave that area as open space," he said.
Another Diamond Bar resident, Don Sutton, said the city's Pantera Park was the location for regular deer sightings, but with more development in the area, the sightings have decreased over the year. "No matter how you look at it any development will impact the animals," he said.
A draft of the study will be completed this summer, with a final version for the Diamond Bar City Council's review by the end of the year, officials said.