My Turn: Information blackout on the Summit
Blackouts are not an unknown occurrence on Donner Summit. Normally, though, the outages are of brief duration, and annoying blinking clocks on appliances are the only indication power was ever out. It takes a substantial storm, or full cabin occupancy on a busy weekend, such as the Fourth of July, to kick the power off for more than an hour or so.Lately though, Donner Summit has been subject to a prolonged blackout, and curiously enough, this lengthy blackout has also extended to the Placer County Planning Department. This blackout, of information instead of power, is disturbing in that it seems to have been planned in advance, but no one thought to alert the customers to the anticipated outage.In late November Royal Gorge LLC submitted multiple documents to Placer County related to its proposed development. At about the same time, Royal Gorge LLC also told the public on their What’s New section of their Web page, Royal Gorge continues to prepare its development application to Placer County and anticipates a submittal after the first of the year.The multiple documents, including a new specific plan for the proposed Lake Camp, and a very thick Water Supply Alternative that carries the notation that it was to be simultaneously transmitted to the Serene Lakes County Water District (SLCWD), and the public, are of great interest to the public, as they detail Royal Gorge LLC’s latest plans for development at the Summit. Not only are these documents of public interest, once submitted to the county they are public records, and must be made available for the public to view and copy. There is no tenable argument that these documents are covered by any exemption in the California Public Records Act.So why won’t Placer County turn on the lights and allow the public state mandated access to these records? What is their rationale for studying them in secret, and going along with Royal Gorge, who made the dubious assurance that they’d submit an application after the first of the year on their Web page? Good question. When lead planner Crystal Jacobsen was asked why the county was keeping the documents secret, she said the county needed to check for completeness and authenticity. Gosh, wouldn’t you think that the SLCWD board, who had been told at their October board meeting by Mike Livak that they would receive the water study at the same time as the county, would be the most appropriate to check completeness and authenticity?Head planner Michael Johnson said the county was justified in keeping quiet while studying these documents to make sure Royal Gorge’s application was complete.Livak, when questioned why the water study did not go to the water board, as he had promised, expressed concerns that previously released drafts had been misinterpreted by the public.Anybody about to blow a fuse about what’s going on here? To an unbiased observer, this could just perhaps maybe look like a concerted effort to keep the public in the dark about all kinds of things that are very much their business. Anybody know where we can find an auxiliary generator, so we can shine some light on the blackout at Donner Summit?Kathryn Gray is a Serene Lakes homeowner.