"(I)n 1982, Danville citizens (voted) to incorporate their community, allowing themselves to shape future changes more directly." -- Danville Town website
Thirty years after Danville's incorporation vote, hundreds of the town's citizens have attended five Planning Commission meetings and then a March 5 Town Council hearing to insist they still want "to shape future changes" themselves.
But the Association of Bay Area Government's unelected, vastly overcompensated bureaucrats have other ideas. As in other area jurisdictions, they demand land set-asides for high-density housing -- in Danville's case, 583 units now (with 56 percent of those for low-income and very low-income tenants), and another 555 units in the next few years.
Danville residents are rightly concerned about impacts on schools, traffic and crime rates. Many have recommended following Corte Madera's lead in separating from ABAG, and joining the growing effort to form a new "council of governments," the state's term for such local agencies.
Population projections allegedly behind ABAG's "Regional Housing Needs Assessment" numbers have been inflated to nearly twice those of California's Department of Finance. But Danville officials ignored a September deadline even to get in line for appealing ABAG's extravagant current RHNA quotas.
Thanks to the Times database of public-agency salaries, we know that as of 2011, ABAG's executive director was compensated at a taxpayer cost exceeding $322,000, including $55,446 in pension contributions alone.
Overall in 2011, ABAG consumed more than $100,000 each in compensation costs for 65 of its 82 employees -- and averaged $22,387 in pension donations for all 82.
Since January, meanwhile, columnist Tom Barnidge has written three increasingly sarcastic editorial reports on Danville citizens' concerns. His March 4 piece belittled the assertion by some of housing-quota and "Sustainability Action Plan" connections with United Nations Agenda 21.
Barnidge correctly but derisively identified that scheme as "a multinational platform hatched in 1992 that encourages creeping governmental control under the guise of sustainable growth," ridiculing related citizen apprehensions as amped-up "conspiracy theories."
But there really is an Agenda 21. And the Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Communities -- including ABAG as one of its members -- noted in its 1997 "Compact for a Sustainable Bay Area" that BAASC "operates within an international context," and pointed to the "Earth Charter Initiative," an "outgrowth" of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit (which generated Agenda 21), as a major inspiration.
For genuine bay-at-the-moon lunacy, read up on the "Earth Charter." Devised in 1994 by socialists and watermelon environmentalists (green outside, red inside) Maurice Strong and Mikhail Gorbachev, the document now occupies its very own "Ark of Hope," complete with "unicorn horn" carrying poles "to render evil ineffective" (http://ark ofhope.org).
In a Feb. 27 community meeting sponsored by Friends of Danville, Save Open Space, and Danville Town Hall -- and in an Orinda meeting on March 13 -- Marin County affordable housing activist and environmentalist Bob Silvestri spoke about findings in his book, "Best Laid Plans." He condemned ABAG's "affordable housing" mandates as devastatingly counterproductive to the announced objective of environmental sustainability.
Danville officials claim that low-income housing likely won't be built, even if the 9.6 acres at issue are rezoned to include that purpose. I've answered that subsidies will follow the set-asides, and that it's a strange housing plan indeed when its best feature is that the structures involved supposedly won't be built.
Citizen disquiet is having beneficial effects, meanwhile, including the removal of "Priority Development Area" language from Danville's 2030 General Plan.
Stay tuned. The next Danville Town Council meeting is Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the town's community center in front of the library.
Michael Arata is a Danville resident.