T: Consider all the facts before judging fair A: Bill Hewitt D: June 10, 1999 C: Published in the Contra-Costa Times
How ironic of Mr. Devin Russel in his guest commentary of May 20! Buried in the last few sentences of his lengthy commentary in opposing the Renaissance fair is this: "I say, please, take as long as necessary so that we may have all of the facts." Yet, without those facts, he and the core opposition group long ago condemned the fair!
I present the following capsulated response, but also encourage you to follow my closer examination of what he put forth.
1. Less than one reported crime per weekend for the last nine years at Novato. Hardly "heartrending"! 2. Trespassing and lost property are not "sordid" crimes, though Mr. Russel inflates his count with them. 3. A use permit will be the defining document for activity on the property, not a corporate year-end report. 4. Only 60 new homes will generate more traffic and wear on the streets than the fair. 5. The Mitigated Negative Declaration is a very legal and frequently used process. 6. Will the opposition demand guarantees of no traffic impact, no criminal activity, and no driving under the influence from every developer and of every producer of an event in Antioch?
Crime, less than one call per weekend is the bottom line of the so-called "heartrending essentials" he tried to portray about crime reported in Novato. And this does not take into account whether a crime was actually committed, rather than just reported.
Let's do the analysis. For "crimes" we must disregard the following: three medical, one "dead body" (the natural death of an elderly gentleman during the week), six lost property, one runaway juvenile, one "report" of a human sacrifice, perhaps four of the six stolen vehicle reports (as Mr. Russel acknowledges, "some located, some mistakes"), two outstanding warrants (which could have been served anywhere) and one traffic accident with no DUI. I am tempted to disregard the two missing juveniles, but will not. That still totals some 19 non-crime calls. There are also 16 calls listed as "other." Since they were not significant enough to be categorized, perhaps half were non-criminal as well. Therefore, the total number of "reported crimes" is 57 to 65.
The report covers approximately eight and a half fair seasons. In that time there were some 68 weekends open to the public. So, the 57 to 65 reports for 68 weekends equals less than one call per weekend! For the fair in San Bernardino, Mr. Russel also inflates the list by including lost property and trespassing as "sordid" crimes.
Year-round traffic, Come now, Mr. Russel! Surely you and your attorney know better than to quote a corporate year-end report as to how the property will be used! The only document having any bearing will be the use permit. The application does outline the willingness to produce other, smaller events such as weekday educational programs for children, private weddings, and community cultural events in a 16th century setting. The number of days suggested is a small fraction of a year!
Street wear, A quick calculation reveals that for one full year, the traffic to and from a housing development of only 60 homes will exceed the traffic generated by fair attendance, and another 10 to match the other suggested activities! This is based on a conservative average of three trips per household per day.
EIR, The initial effort to conduct a Mitigated Negative Declaration is a frequently used and quite legal process, contrary to what he might imply! It is used when it is believed that reasonable measures can mitigate any issues that may arise. The law requires that it be "upgraded" to a full EIR when sufficient controversy arises. That process was followed as the situation warranted.
Other development, Why demand more of this "development" than of any other? Where will this opposition be as each developer comes forth over the next 10 years or more to build homes and businesses in Antioch? Will you demand of those developers the same that you are demanding of the Renaissance fair? Will you demand guarantees that there be no increased traffic on the streets, no crimes committed in those new areas and no driving "under the influence" to and from those new areas?
I encourage those who are leaning in opposition to the Renaissance fair to make your judgment based on clearer facts, not out of fear and on misleading information. Let us work together to rationally address any real issues that might arise from its operation.
For those in support of the Renaissance fair, I encourage you to come forward and be heard now, when the EIR is up for comment, and again when the public hearings are held by the Planning Commission and the City Council. You do not need to speak at the meetings, nor write a lengthy commentary. Short letters, phone calls, and your attendance are needed and welcomed.
Bill Hewitt - Antioch