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Posted by xaviervir on September 6, 2010

The following e-mails are by concerned California residents wanting to form a regional movement to fight RDA’s:

Your Turn: Treat Boulevard bridge to nowhere exposes what is wrong with redevelopment

By Ken Hambrick
Guest Commentary

I rarely read Tom Barnidge’s column in the Times but his Aug. 4 column lauding the $12 million bridge over Treat Boulevard caught my eye. Unfortunately, Barnidge missed the real story about this unneeded bridge.

The real story is that the bridge was built with county Redevelopment Agency funds. Where does that agency get its money? It siphons off property tax dollars that should be going to schools, fire, police and other necessary government agencies.

Redevelopment Agencies (RDAs) control about 30 percent of urbanized land in California. And 12 percent of all property taxes are seized by these agencies. Statewide that amounts to $65 billion annually in funds diverted from counties, cities, school, fire and police districts.

Now let’s go back to the Treat bridge. I was a member of the 2002-03 grand jury where we did an investigation of the Pleasant Hill BART station county redevelopment area. Please take time to read that report at

Among the conclusions was: “The expenditure of some $4 million for a bridge over Treat Boulevard is improper. Whatever the increase in pedestrian or bicycle traffic, the building of the bridge is not an appropriate use of redevelopment dollars.” And, of course, the grand jury recommendation was, “Do not proceed further with plans to build the bridge over Treat Boulevard.”

The stated reason for the bridge back in 2003 was that it would increase bicycle and pedestrian traffic into the BART station and increase BART ridership. The agency admitted that it had a consultant’s report that said the bridge would not do that. When queried why they were building the bridge in the face of that report, the response was, “because we can.”

That comment illustrates the arrogance of RDAs. They are largely unsupervised and can do whatever they want with impunity.

According to Barnidge, the final cost of the “bridge to nowhere” is $12 million. Just think what schools or fire or police districts could do with that.

Unfortunately there is Proposition 22 on the November ballot masquerading as a “protect local revenues” measure. If passed, the only thing Prop. 22 does is codify RDA protection into the state Constitution (preventing the state from taking RDA money for other things like schools). The county Board of Supervisors voted in July to oppose it.

With the miserable performance of RDAs and their seizing of billions of property tax dollars that should be used for essential services, we can’t let that happen. Those dollars should be available for those essential services, not unnecessary and expensive bridges.

Barnidge closed his column with this comment about the bridge, “A government project that the public likes.” Too bad he didn’t follow Paul Harvey’s lead and tell the rest of the story.

Ken Hambrick is chairman Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers and a resident of Walnut Creek.

At 03:11 PM 9/6/2010, you wrote:
To All: Start at bottom

—– Forwarded Message —-
From: shelby chapel
To: Phillip Ciaramitaro

Sent: Mon, September 6, 2010 1:56:38 PM
Subject: Re: Orinda Downtown Development-from Kent Hagen

Thanks for keeping in touch. I  am in complete agreement that if people from various cities can be brought together, we can leverage relevant information helpful to all. I see on the ‘saveorinda’ site there will be ‘workshops’.  This was suggested here.  The people must be ‘educated’ as to the ‘benefits’ of development, adding population, etc. They are always told there will be ‘more revenue and jobs’.

Hogwash ! According to the Public Policy Institute of Ca  “There is no economic benefit to RDA activity”, see Subsidizing Redevelopment in California..” and “Public Power, Private Gain”, Castle Coalition.  Planning/zoning is a type of social agenda to shift people and voting patterns with ‘smart growth’. google: sustainable growth or sustainable freedom.
So why this push for development (and putting it in the General Plan) when the population of California has decreased, numerous commercial banks are going belly-up, foreclosures are at an all-time high, people are cutting back on discretionary spending, unemployment is through the roof, etc? And how is it the modus operandi of the perpetrators seems  so similar in all cities, all states? The pattern seems too pervasive to be just developers and local politicians who want to grow bigger government.
My latest theory is this Agenda 21. google: You Tube: UN-Agenda 21-Sustainable Development. (10 minutes) Essentially it’s stack and pack people into compact areas, destroy the middle class, dumb down the kids, put 50% of US off limits to people, etc. And private property is not compatible with ‘sustainability’.  Sound fantastic? This video was done by Santa Cruz.  They have a highly educated and feisty population that has successfully fought development. (google:The Leftmost City Santa Cruz. …”stopped every major development they didn’t like..” And go to original Agenda 21 docs:
“Generally, more highly educated people, who have higher incomes, consume more resources…In this case, more education increases the threat to sustainability.” (Education for Sustainability)
So how do we cut the head off this snake?  Somewhere is the docs it says directives have been sent to all counties………?.
Sending your email to group. Will request it be put on San Pablo Talk Back. Keep in touch.                    Regards,Shelby PS: If  ‘saveorinda’ opened its site for feed-in, i.e. community space, I think it would benefit their cause.  You must get the populace behind you. That’s how we succeeded here squashing eminent domain.  That and a lot of work. Also people in county, state could feed in research.  This plague we are fighting has taken hold everywhere.  It would be wise to join forces.

From: Phillip Ciaramitaro
To: keh6444
Sent: Sat, September 4, 2010 1:18:10 PM
Subject: Re: Orinda Downtown Development-from Kent Hagen


Yes, it was good talking with you as well. Thanks for letting me soap box a bit ~ I get excited when others contact me about their plight in their town and what they’ve done and how they’re fighting to save their way of living and our fundamental rights and privileges.

I would like very much like to call a summit meeting with the many, many neighborhood assns, alliances and other individuals and enttities that are fighting excessive urbanization, high density housing, redevelopment agencies, eminent domain abuse and big government interference in local concerns. I have copied this to organizations local, state & nationwide. In the past I’ve been in contact with Kathy Gleason and her CNWSNA – fighting the excesses at the Concord Naval Weapons Station development & the folks in San Pablo fighting eminent domain; Chris Norby, Assemblyman, Christina Walsh, Castle Coalition and many others.We must find a way to unite because I’m afraid that if we don’t we will never, ever be able to stem the tide of this ruthlessness and corruption.
There is a Conference on Redevelopment Abuse being held in Sacramento on Oct 1st. Strongly suggest attending.

In the meantime, I hope that we keep the idea hot and move it forward. If we can organize countywide and establish ourselves, we will have a much, much better chance at organizing statewide. But we and our efforts here come first. It would be great to have at least one representative from every city or town in Contra Costa.

I can obtain a meeting place in Martinez that is generally always available with plenty of room, chairs, tables and kitchen. Those in the county that have received this email please send it along to your networks and associates within the county and ask them to do the same. Let’s see if we can stir up some interest and put a meeting together as soon as possible. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to begin!

So, thank you, Kent for contacting me. And please thank the person that contacted you. Be sure to invite them to our first Countywide Neighborhood Alliance meeting. Date, time and place to be determined.

Phillip Ciaramitaro
Community Initiatives of Martinez
& Sustainable Martinez

— On Sat, 9/4/10, keh6444  wrote:

From: keh6444
Subject: Orinda Downtown Development-from Kent Hagen
To: “Phillip Ciaramitaro”
Date: Saturday, September 4, 2010, 11:57 AM

Phillip, it was great, and very enlightening, talking with you. If you’d send me URLs for the sites we spoke of I’d appreciate it. Let’s proceed with the idea of a regional movement forward. If there some way to get a county association web site and publicize it.
Please look at: and the adversary: Orinda Vision is a 501[3]C, and here is the web site of Scott Zeller,  the candidate who is a member of our group.
My contact information is:
Kent Hagen
P.O. Box 2143
Orinda, CA 94563
I’ll look forward to speaking with you more. Thanks very much for your time and advice.
Kent Hagen
,33 yr. Orinda resident

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