The South County Housing Project was a good example that the county does what it wants while pretending to be serving the people. The project began with county decision-makers from the old county Redevelopment Agency, the well-paid executives of South County Housing and Mark Stone. The decision to build Felton’s first high-density housing project was made behind closed doors. You can almost picture these guys lighting up cigars in back rooms to talk money, except for the fact that the county building is a “smoke-free environment.”
The first funding was approved before the community knew anything about the proposal. Faced with an overwhelming community protest, the county went to work funding a series of community outreach workshops with facilitated meetings where the project planners pretended to demonstrate community support. The efforts were contrived and pathetic, except to say that they did bring us cookies. When the popular protest became clear, supporters had to bring in out-of-the-area residents to pose as local citizens in support.
The project died from the crash in real estate prices in the years after 2006. Absent those conditions, the county was set to run over us and impose its rezoning will. After it became evident the project was dead, South County Housing entered a closed-session hearing with a threat of a lawsuit for damages. The board of supervisors caved in and cut loose with $1.2 million to settle the matter. Those funds could have been used to improve what we already have. Such is politics and the power of money.
If you think your elected representative serve the residents of their districts, think again. You’re still driving over potholes while the county government subsidizes housing executives making six figures, who then abscond with generous settlements.
David Smith, Mount Hermon