News: 1999-AntiochLetters

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T: Letters to the Editor of the Contra Costa Times
A: Various
D: Letters cited with Publication Dates.
C: (c) 1999 Contra-Costa Times

S: Consider all the facts before judging fair


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

S: 100 percent backing for Renaissance fair

D: June 9, 1999


We would like to address an issue that is currently plaguing the city of Antioch. The Renaissance Pleasure Faire has been the topic of many heated discussions the past few months, and we would like to make our opinion known.

We support the fair 100 percent. The fair is exactly what this town needs; something cultural, something entertaining, something to do other than just hang out. We feel this event will benefit the city by allowing teen-agers and other citizens to experience the cultural and entertaining events that are not otherwise available in this community.

We understand the concerns of the opponents, but we come to you asking to just give the fair a chance.

Julie Shier, Jason Hickman, Colette DeFalco - Antioch

S: Renaissance fair can't work in Antioch
D: June 8, 1999


It only takes common sense to know that the Renaissance Pleasure Faire will not work here in Antioch, period. The homes that are being built and the roads that are in dire need of repair will not handle the crowds that this event brings. It is against the law to have a fair ground in the city limits. To make it worse, our three council members and one mayor want to bring fair traffic through our residential and city streets. No mayor in her right mind would ever do this to the citizens, and would not even consider such an event to bring catastrophe on our highway and byways.

The REC proposes the following events on the Antioch site:

1) The annual fair up to 19 days with average total attendance of 175,000. Average daily attendance based on eight weekends: 10,500. That means Saturday and Sunday (not including Fridays). That's 21,000 more people in Antioch and driving on our streets during the weekend. 2) What about their school programs? They say three Fridays per year for 3,000 to 8,000 per day! That's 3,000 to 8,000 per weekend more people, not counting how many school buses that will come! 3) Then there are spring and summer special events for up to 12 days per year, estimated attendance 3,000 to 8,000 per day. REC doesn't indicate on which days of the week these events would occur, so I wonder if it would include weekends, too! 4) Local and community cultural events: yet to be designated, four days per year, estimated attendance of 3,000 to 8,000 per day. 5) Corporate and private events: on-going, based on demand. Average attendance 200 per party. Maximum attendance of 3,000.

Now, it is my opinion that more people will attend the fair if it's in Antioch because it's closer to San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and surrounding areas! This fair will not work here in Antioch! The people do not want the Renaissance Pleasure faire here! We are looking at more gridlock, crime and possible fires! Renaissance Pleasure Faire, look for another home, you are not welcome here!

Planning Commissioner Nead is the person who invited the Renaissance Pleasure Faire here. I kind of find it ironic that he is on the Planning Commission, which votes to have this thing here. Isn't that called a conflict of interest! The same with our mayor; you would think fair operators would just put in an application and then the mayor would take a vote or get the people's response, but no!

Each spring, the mayor delivers the State of the City address. Following is an excerpt from this year's speech, given by Mayor Rocha:

"We are also pleased to announce that we have just received a conditional use permit application from the Renaissance Entertainment Corp. The Renaissance fair, which has called Novato home for the past many years, has signed a 10-year lease for over 100 acres in southeast Antioch and wants to open in late August of this year. We will hear more details about the fair in the upcoming Planning Commission meeting."

If she welcomes REC in her spring address, is she really for the people of Antioch? Her three council members do, too. Councilman Donald Freitas stated at one meeting that he supports whatever is good for the council. Great! What happened to whatever is good for the people?

Planning Commission Chairman Petersen expressed concern at the April 21 meeting that there probably would be some events at the fair that unsupervised children should not be a part of.

You can find that statement in the April 21 Antioch Planning Commission minutes. This statement really concerns me.

Deborah Anderson

S: Get facts on Faire first

D: June 7, 1999

Please correct me if I am wrong, I have always thought that the Antioch City Council as well as Mayor Mary Rocha were public servants, and that they were to look out for the best interests of our community.

This seems to be far from the case with the mayor and the majority of the City Council members (not Angel Sudario) being in favor of the Renaissance Faire making it's home in Antioch.

With all the facts present, it seems to be a no brainer that the Faire would turn our quiet community into a community deluged with public intoxication, rape, sexual assault, auto theft and grand theft, just to mention a few.

Our City Council members and the mayor should be doing all they can to give the residents of Antioch the facts. They are clearly not doing their job. What happens to you or me when we don't do our jobs?

Tim Light - Antioch

S: Faire draws crime
D: June 4, 1999

This is in response to Jonathan Boden's April 27 letter, titled "Renaissance Faire would boost Antioch."

As a 16-year old, Boden is just now learning about life. Judging by his letter, it appears he is enthralled with Shakespeare and Elizabethan English. Bravo! Unfortunately, Boden confuses the brilliant works of Shakespeare with that of the vulgar and loud nature that is Renaissance Faire.

The crime issue is a proven problem. As a student of Deer Valley High, I feel certain Boden has been taught to gather facts before venturing out into public. His comments are out of kilter.

The Novato police responded at least 84 times to Renaissance Faire North. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office responded at least 55 times to Renaissance Faire South.

Here is a sampling of the documented crimes associated with the Renaissance Faire: drunk in public, rape, sexual assault, assault with a deadly weapon, auto theft, grand theft, petty theft. By all appearances, crime accompanies the Renaissance Faire, which should seek asylum elsewhere.

Devin Russel - Antioch

S: Residents deserve vote on Renaissance fair
D: May 21, 1999

Editor, Well it looks like the council majority doesn't care about the residents of Antioch. I thought things would be different with having new members on board, but things haven't changed at all.

The decision on whether the Renaissance Pleasure Faire should come to Antioch or not should be decided by the residents of Antioch, not five council members, four of which only care about the all-mighty dollar and not whether the residents are happy.

The reason the majority council members rejected letting us vote on whether the fair should come to Antioch is because they are afraid the community will vote no, and that will mean that they won't get their way. If they weren't afraid, then they would let us vote on this issue.

Diane Hanus was right when she said that we elected officials to make this community, but something this important should be put to a vote since it will affect us all.

The roads are already overcrowded; why bring more traffic to Antioch? Why not have a trial period of one year and see how things go, instead of making the fair permanent and realizing a mistake was made bringing it here. It could work to the advantage of either side and show that it will work or won't work.

I think the majority of the residents are against having the fair in Antioch and that frightens the majority council members. If I'm wrong then prove it . . . put it to a vote!

Donna Tucker - Antioch

S: More than one way to get to land eyed for fair
D: May 12, 1999


The likelihood of my ever going to The Renaissance Pleasure Faire is very slim, as large group things are not my bag. But I feel having the fair in Antioch is a very good thing.

As a second-generation resident I can say, where are these southeast Antioch people coming from?

There are at least four ways to get to Higgins Ranch. Only one is Lone Tree to Deer Valley Road. Not one goes through Dallas Ranch.

Higgins Ranch is so far away from homes you would need a donkey to get there from the last sub-division.

I will also add: 1. The ferry did not work because fire safety would not approve it. 2. Novato has always been known as "Novato, Home of the Renaissance Faire." What is Antioch known for? It's about time it was something other than the "Armpit of the Delta."

Do not let these newcomers in southeast Antioch bully you into thinking the way they think. They are not giving you the facts. Check it out yourself.

Lorrie Grimes - Antioch

T: Renaissance Faire would enrich Antioch
D: May 10, 1999


I feel I must write a letter on behalf of the Renaissance Faire as I've seen the plethora of letters condemning it.

First off, I've heard complaints about the traffic, crime and wanton drunkenness. How is this different than a fair at the Antioch Fairgrounds or 1950s Bash on Bethel Island?

I think people see this as some Sodom and Gomorra, which shows how conservative Antioch people are.

The fair is a well-orchestrated event. Most of the people enter the fair in the morning and stay hours.

Parking is organized, the security inside is a crew of men reminding one of McGuyver, assisting people when needed, may it be heat exposure, a lost child or drunken person.

With 10,000 people visiting the fair daily, it's amazing nothing happens, and the crowd is kept under control.

At the gate, you are surrounded by Shakespeare's world. The fair essentially is broken down to shops, food and entertainment.

It's a family experience, definitely enriching and Antioch needs culture on this side of the hill.

Approve the fair and there will be jobs for youths and something to look forward to this summer.

Linda Ballard - Oakley

T: Antioch lacks vision
D: May 10, 1999

A lot has been written lately about the Renaissance Faire coming to Antioch.

Traffic, unruly mobs, undesirables all have been put forward as reasons by some residents. Antioch doesn't need the Faire, they say, so what does Antioch need?

Let's see and compare it with Pittsburg. Pittsburg has a thriving marina area and a developed waterfront; Antioch has a fishing pier. Pittsburg is developing its downtown and is encouraging new business; Antioch would just as soon forget its downtown for strip malls.

Pittsburg is courting industry with resultant new jobs; Antioch is building new homes, overextending its roads and public services, thereby increasing our taxes.

Pittsburg has boats; Antioch has buses. Pittsburg has the statewide known Seafood Festival; Antioch has the county fair. Pittsburg has commercial development inside Antioch's sphere of influence; Antioch has no influence.

Antioch doesn't need the Renaissance Faire; let Pittsburg have it.

Then Pittsburg can move forward into the 21st Century, and Antioch can stay what it is and always will be as long as the city government has no vision; a third-rate, backward-looking town with more people than brains.

Howard Helton - Antioch

S: Don't let Renaissance fair slip away
D: May 8, 1999


I have been reading a lot of negative feedback about the Renaissance Pleasure Faire proposal for an Antioch location.

These unfounded accusations from opponents seem really "out there."

We have an existing Contra Costa County Fair every year and this not bring excess burglarizing or generate additional homeless people or massive drunken- driving attendees.

I am a homeowner in Antioch for 11 years now. I attend the county fair (no matter how boring it is) each year to support my city and county! Hopefully to have some entertainment as well. I have gone to the Renaissance fair five times. Every time, it was exciting and new. It is a "living history" adventure and I would be proud for it to reside in Antioch. It would be a shot in the arm for our city, especially since Pittsburg gets most of our Antioch shopping dollars with the Target/Brenden Theater shopping center.

The Renaissance fair in Antioch is a very good thing and it should happen!

What the heck is all this rubbish talk about the fair being full of "witchcraft" and its influence on the young people in attendance? What a crock! Sounds to me like some people have a lot of time on their hands and are dreaming up ways to spread fear into the community. What a bunch of bull! This fair is a great trip back into time. It's very educational!

Most local folks I have spoken with are happy with the idea of it coming to our town! If the Antioch City Council lets it slip away, many fellow residents will be screaming "off with their heads" I'm sure!

Harold Montgomery, Antioch

S: Renaissance Faire would boost Antioch
D: April 27, 1999


I am a junior at Deer Valley High School in Antioch. I am an active thespian there. When I first heard that the Renaissance Faire was coming to Antioch I was overjoyed.

People get misconceptions of what the fair is really all about. It's Shakespeare! I've read articles that say the Renaissance Faire is going to bring crime. I am 16, and that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. If anything, it will bring business, something Antioch desperately needs.

During spring break I went to Ashland, Ore. That is the biggest Shakespeare Festival I have ever seen, and I did not see any crime there.

I have done numerous Shakespeare plays such as, "As You Like It," "Midsummer's Night Dream," and 'Much Ado About Nothing. '

I know from experience that Elizabethan English is difficult to memorize and understand, so imagine how much people could learn from the fair.

Just to see activities like jousting would be awesome. If the Renaissance Faire wants to come to Antioch I welcome it.

Let's face it, Antioch can be a pretty boring place, and I think we need something to liven it up. I think I write for all the actors in the DVHS Drama Department.

Jonathan Boden: Antioch

S: Antioch status quo wants fair
D: April 20, 1999

Editor, I am amused but not surprised by the spin that Councilman Don Freitas put on the opposition to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire shown at the City Council meeting last Tuesday by C.A.R.E. and other concerned citizens. He claims that "right now we don't have all the answers," and carefully did not commit himself to saying whether he was for or against the fair.

During the recent election for council, as a council candidate, I was in a debate with Mr. Freitas where I pointedly criticized Laura Sainz, our economic development director, and her boss, City Manager Mike Ramsey, for spending too much time on the fair, that the fair was not the kind of economic development that we need to generate decent jobs and a sound tax base in Antioch. At the time, Mr. Freitas, among other candidates, roundly criticized me, saying that he thought the fair was a good idea and we should pursue it. I guess at the time of the debate with that particular audience, it didn't matter whether all the facts were in or not. &, &,

Lawrence A. Howard - Antioch

S: Fair would be a mistake for Antioch
D: April 20, 1999

Editor, Here we go again. Antioch is being plunged into another mindless, ill-conceived get-rich-quick plan by the City Council. It's a good thing they don't watch late-night infomercials or there would be an ordinance that all Antioch residents must purchase a Tony Robbins video collection before they are allowed to buy homes here. But I digress. The Renaissance Pleasure Faire is the subject of this letter .

Do you think it might be a mistake to bring a fair that will bring 10,000 cars a day down Lone Tree Way ? Now I have a personal interest in this, seeing as how my street will be directly impacted by this fair; I live off of Golf Course Road. You know, that nifty little shortcut up to Empire Mine Road, which just so happens to grant you direct access to the fair.

The fair would have you believe that this will be good for us. Hey, if it's so good, how come Novato didn't find a way to keep it there? Or why aren't there cities lining up and begging the fair to come to their towns? I wonder if we could call the office of the mayor of Novato and ask them how much money they ended up with after all was said and done. All was said and done meaning additional police and fire department hours, additional hours spent by the parks and recreation department cleaning the city up after 10,000 or so drunken partyers come through our neighborhoods each Saturday and Sunday that the fair is open.

You know what I look forward to the most about the fair coming to Antioch is the inevitable day when my 4-year-old asks me that question we as parents all yearn to hear: "Daddy, why are the those people making pee-pee on our street?"

Wise up, people of Antioch. This is a tragedy in the making. If this goes through we will have to live with it for the next 10 to 12 years. And I solemnly vow that if the Antioch City Council passes this, I will devote all my waking hours to leading a recall of all members who voted in favor of this debacle. You council members seem to forget that you work for us, and we don't want this!

Jay Eisenstadt - Antioch

S: Not everyone is against the fair
D: April 20, 1999

Editor, I would like to address a subject discussed at the April 13 Antioch City Council meeting: the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. I feel that the opinions expressed by those citizens present and speaking during public comments are not those of all Antioch city residents.

I, for one, have attended the event since 1967. I wonder how many residents that spoke last Tuesday evening have attended a Renaissance fair. Evidently, not many have attended. All the years I have attended the fair, I have never seen any violence, had my vehicle vandalized, seen graffiti anywhere near the site, seen any outside police agency on the site, or any of the negative things that were mentioned at the meeting.

I have been very choosy about the places that I have taken my children during their formative years and never hesitated to take them to the fair, where they experienced events that cannot be seen anywhere else. They learned about an era in history: the types of foods eaten, the types of entertainment practiced, the guilds that existed and what they produced, the clothing worn and a feeling of what it would be like to be a part of that time in history.

I guess I am "one of those people" that were described during the comments. I have a college degree, have been a resident in Antioch since 1962, and have worked and been active in this community for many years. I have watched Antioch go from approximately 25,000 to 80,000 people during that time. Changes have occurred and I have tried to be tolerant and understanding of the new residents in southeast Antioch.

But my patience is beginning to wane! I guess instead of calling the group C.A.R.E. (Citizens Against Renaissance Event) I will rename the group NISEA (Not In Southeast Antioch). I realize growing pains are difficult, because at one time I lived in a "new" neighborhood. We had no access to schools, nearby shopping or services. Students in this "new" area were sent to schools on the other side of town (20 minutes away) and were always last on the list for amenities that those in older parts of town took for granted. This is called growth.

Let's discuss traffic. Every morning my neighbors fight to get on to Delta Fair Boulevard because everyone from southeast Antioch is using our neighborhood streets as a shortcut to get to their places of employment. This problem is not seven weekends a year, this is 365 days a year. During the Loveridge flood it took 20 minutes to get on to Delta Fair because everyone used my neighborhood streets and did not bother to stop at stop signs and clogged intersections with no regard for fellow residents.

All of the NISEA folks need to look at an extra 2,000 cars a weekend as small potatoes. The number of cars that will be on those same streets when the total number of homes are built in southeast Antioch will far outnumber those attending the fair. None of us like to be inconvenienced, but it is a fact of life.

Jean Melton - Antioch