A failure to communicate on Donner Summit
August 21, 2007
Donner Summit stakeholder meetings have become the latest point of contention over the proposed Royal Gorge development.Foster & Syme, the proponent of a 950-unit planned community, proposed a series of informal meetings with stakeholders including both Donner Summit community and environmental groups.But the groups rejected the invitation. While the development team sees the snub as a step backward in its effort to maintain open dialogue, the stakeholder groups said they felt the meetings would have limited the scope of discussion.Instead, the groups want to create a unified vision for the summit before agreeing to come to the table.I think there are elements in the community acting in a polarizing fashion by declining the meetings; thats not a step that encourages dialogue, said Mike Livak, the Royal Gorge project manager. But our door remains open if those groups reconsider dialogue outside the formal process; wed like to talk to them.But President Bill Oudegeest of the Serene Lakes Property Owners Association said the decision to decline was not adversarial, that he had first proposed meetings which the developers had rebuffed.When they came back with their proposed meetings, it sounded like they wanted to talk about peripheral issues, not the real details, Oudegeest said. They also proposed a facilitated discussion rather than face-to-face.Livak said the letter sent to the community and environmental organizations was a draft, intended to be open and flexible in how, and what, the meetings would discuss.He said the development team was surprised that the stakeholder groups declined meeting rather than proposing alternative meetings, which he said the developers would be open to.Oudegeest said the Donner Summit groups, led by the Donner Summit Area Association, want to create a Donner Summit Community Plan that outlines a vision for the area, detailing what is and what isnt appropriate development for the environment and the existing community.California is going to continue to grow, so we want to find out how to deal with growth in the most rational way, Oudegeest said. Were not NIMBYs (not in my back yard), we arent against development.Livak said the development team is not prepared to delay the project while a community plan is developed.I have attended virtually every meeting in the Summit Summit process and as the (Donner Summit Area Association) pointed out this is a long-term, expensive process for the whole area, not for specific upcoming developments, Livak said.While Oudegeest said the summit groups would still like to reach an amicable solution, Sierra Watch, Sierra Club and the Serene Lakes Property Owners Association have retained legal counsel.We think litigation is the very last thing we should be involved in; we would like to talk, Oudegeest said.