Badlands is declaring the coming days a Sunshine Week to post a number of documents submitted to Merced County government in the last few months. Some of these documents have been included in the official packets of information for Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission meetings. Others have been suppressed.
This material is best understood by reference to the audio or video archives of supervisors’ and planning commission meetings and we encourage readers seriously interested in understanding their local government to go to the Merced County webpage, http://www.co.merced.ca.us/CountyWeb/, to seek out these hearings, particularly the two board of supervisors meetings on July 1 and July 8.
The following correspondence is a brief diversion from the July 1 and July 8, 2008 Merced County Board of Supervisors’ public hearings. However, since it involves the issue of the wholesale parcelization of agricultural land Merced County’s Williamson Act Preserve it relates to the minor subdivision in the previous postings.
Mr. Robert Lewis, Planning Director
Mr. James Fincher, Merced County Counsel
Merced County Administration Building
2222 “M” Street, 2nd and 3rd Floors
Merced, Ca 95340
April 25, 2008
Re: PRAR for Williamson Act Preserve Approvals conferred from 2000 -2008
Via: E-mail and Hand Delivered, April 25, 2008
Dear Mr. Lewis,
Pursuant to public rights under the California Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.) and the California Constitution, as amended by passage of Prop 59 on November 3, 2004, we request to review the documents in possession of the Merced County Planning Department regarding:
· All minor subdivision applications – including, but not limited to plot line adjustments, convey or combines or any other land division approved via administrative or discretionary review and conferred to landowners/applicants with land designated as part of the Williamson Act Agricultural Preserve, 2000-2008; this request is not limited to those lands under the Williamson Act Contract;
· We request to review approvals of the division of land in the preserve up to 80 acres.
We request the right to review the original records at a time to be arranged at the Merced County Planning Department prior to any copying taking place. As provided by the Public Records Act, you have ten days to determine whether you have records subject to the Act. If we can provide any clarification that will help expedite your attention to this request, please contact us at (415) 816-8872.
Finally, should you deny part or all of this request, you are required to provide a written response describing the legal authority or authorities on which you rely.
Thank you for your time and courtesy. We look forward to your response.
Maureen McCorry et al., and on
behalf of Valley Land Alliance
P.O. Box 158
Planada, CA 95365
cc: Interested parties
James N. Fincher, County Counsel
2222 M Street
Merced CA 95340
May 19, 2008
P.O. Box 158
Planada CA 95365
RE: Public Records Act Request dated 4/25/08 for Williamson Act Preserve Approvals conferred from 2000-2008
Dear Ms. McCorry:
The planning department has located the above information you are requesting and will need to know whether you are wanting a disc or a physical file. The disc typically does not disclose acreage or zoning, which are two components you are requesting and it only goes back to 2002. All acreage in A-1 and A-2 zones were included in the Williamson Act Preserve since adoption by the County in 2000 and not all minor-subdivisions involve A-1 and A-1 (sic) zoned property.
If you wish to inspect the files Planning will need to know whether you will want to view them year by year or month by month. Also, please note that if you choose to view the files we will be able to set aside 2 hours per day for you to do so. Therefore, please contact the planning department to make arrangements.
If you have any questions regarding the above, please to do not hesitate to contact me.
JAMES N. FINCHER
DEPUTY COUNTY COUNSEL
(Signed by Robert Gabriele)
cc. Merced County Planning Department
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
CC: email@example.com, Valleyland2, MCCORRYM
Sent: 6/9/2008 8:44:27 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: PRAR for the Williamson Act Preserve 2000-2008/April 25, 2008
Mr. Fincher, Mr. Lewis, and Mr. Khiek,
We reviewed your response to our above referenced request. Our goal is to review these files in the most comprehensive manner possible; therefore, we request to view these in person as opposed to receiving a CD.
Since we are not familiar with your system, we are not clear on the implications involved (or the difference) in viewing these files by month or year. We will require additional clarification regarding the difference from staff, before determining which method would allow us access to the information we are requesting. Finally, we also seek clarification regarding the meaning of the statement: "and not all minor-subdivisions involve A-1 and A-2 property" in that the focus of our request is to look at preserve properties -- that are both Ag zoned, and are minor subdivisions.
We look forward to your response.
Maureen McCorry, et al
P.O. Box 158
Planada, CA 95365
To: MCCORRYM@aol.com, PKhiek@co.merced.ca.us
CC: BNicholson@co.merced.ca.us, JFincher@co.merced.ca.us, RGabriele@co.merced.ca.us, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: 7/10/2008 5:24:31 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: Re: Fwd: PRAR for the Williamson Act Preserve 2000-2008/April 25, 2008
Good afternoon Maureen,
I understand that the County has provided you with a CD having a database showing 456 minor subdivisions created in an excel spreadsheet from year 2002 to present. I would conclude from your email today that this is not satisfactory to you.
According to our County Counsel's office, you will be able to view our physical files for 2 hours per day. You are permitted to view our files under staff supervision. You are not allowed to remove any document or change the order in the record file. You will be provided with post-it notes to mark each letter size page you wish to have copied and will be charged 50 cents per page. The practice of bringing your own copy paper and equipment to save copying charges can continue, however, you and any associate shall not be permitted to handle and make copies of our County files. This is to be performed by a County staff person with your consent to use your paper and equipment. You and any associate are not permitted to remove or scramble documents in the file or change the order of records within it. This has been a problem in the past and must stop immediately as the logical order of the documentation has been changed or misplaced and/or even possibly missing.
On average we estimate that file review takes approximately 20 minutes for "the most comprehensive manner" and may take longer for copying any desired pages. This can be calculated to allow you to view a total of 6 project files per visit to the department. Also, it can be estimated to take up to 76 visits to the department to review all minor subdivision files from 2002 to present.
Please note that our older project files are stored at an off-site location and staff time is required (approximately 1 hour) to retrieve those files. My question for you is, How do you want to view all 456 files? Do you want to start from 2002? I will require a logical order to avoid any possible misfiling.
To clarify the meaning of the statement: "and not all minor-subdivisions involve A-1 and A-2 property" Minor subdivisions are allowed to occur in all zoning districts. The definition of a minor subdivision is creating 4 or fewer parcels on a piece of land. It is our understanding that your focus of study are those minor subdivisions occurring in A-1 and A-2 zoned properties. The Ag Preserve is only found in the A-1 and A-2 zones.
Please let me or Peou know how you would like to proceed from here. I suggest a comprehensive schedule of proposed dates and times. I think this would be a great start to meet your desired expectations.
Have a glorious day.
Robert A. (Bobby) Lewis, Development Services Director
Planning and Community Development Department
County of Merced
2222 M Street
Merced, CA 95340
(209) 385-7654, Ex 4400
(209) 726-1710 Fax
(209) 233-1481 Cell