Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Draft report leaked to PD: "Implementation Committee" completed CTS strategy in April

The big question has been whether the Santa Rosa Plain Conservation Strategy Team will deliver for the developers and local officials who created and funded it. Now it appears the officials themselves have actively guided the process--and drafted the strategy they intend to implement.

The Team’s draft report was completed before April 6, for presentation to federal authorities in December. City Hall, three other cities, and the county are sitting on it, but The Press Democrat obtained a copy Monday. Spencer Soper’s Tuesday story reported,

Santa Rosa City Manager Jeff Kolin said a draft report that includes a more detailed implementation plan will be released this summer, kicking off a series of public hearings. Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Windsor, the county and state and federal agencies hope to have an agreement by the end of the year on how the salamander will be protected, he said.

The panel of government officials and other stakeholders began meeting last year to find ways to protect the salamander and make room for growth. Its April 6 report was not made public because it is in draft form and still being reviewed, said Ed Brauner, a consultant facilitating the conservation team meetings.” (5/24/05, “Preserves could cut costs, land needed for salamander”)

The Strategy Team has a page at the City website: . The most recent entry there is for the meeting notes of a “Joint Meeting of the Santa Rosa Plain Conservation Strategy Team and Implementation Committee” on 3/17/05--more than two months ago.

The March 17 meeting notes may be the first public reference to the existence of that “Implementation Committee”--which presumably plans to implement the draft strategy in the report it's sitting on. The Team was to meet five times in March and April, including another Joint Meeting with the Committee 4/27. But no further notes have been posted at the City’s website.

The meeting notes report that:

USFWS intends to publish CTS critical habitat designation in the Federal Register on December 5, 2005. … In order to meet the December 5 date, the administrative draft conservation strategy needs to be complete and ready for final review by the various constituents by April 6. [emphasis added]

This draft would be reviewed by the Committee, and the implementation section would be completed by the Committee and ready for review by the Team by the end of May. If this schedule is maintained, the final draft would be ready for public review in June."

The Committee was to review and complete the draft, and return it to the Team. The Team itself would review it, and was scheduled to meet once in June. Only then might the public see what the Committee had already sent to Washington, for publication in December.

The Committee provided a letter to be sent to a Fish & Wildlife official:

The Implementation Committee presented a draft letter to be sent to Julie MacDonald, Deputy Assistant Director for Fish & Wildlife, which included an outline for the conservation strategy and a work plan for the completion of the conservation strategy. The Committee asked for any comments from the Team on these documents before they were sent out. The Team agreed to review these and get comments back to the Committee as soon as possible. This letter is scheduled to be sent on April 8.”

The participants “briefly discussed” informing the public:

How the draft conservation strategy will be presented to the public was briefly discussed. There was general discussion of the possibility of holding several public workshops in the various communities. It was also stated that the public agencies would hold hearings during their process of implementing the strategy once it is complete. It was agreed that this subject would be discussed at a future joint meeting of the Committee and Team.”

The Joint Meeting participants included 16 Implementation Committee Members:

Wayne White, USFWS
Susan Moore, USFWS
Robert Floerke, CDFG
Pete Parkinson, County of Sonoma
Steve Shupe, County of Sonoma
Lisa Moore, City of Cotati
Terry Stubbings, City of Cotati
Veronica A. F. Nebb, City of Cotati
Jake MacKenzie, City of Rohnert Park
Carl Leivo, City of Rohnert Park
Steve Donley, City of Rohnert Park
Mike Martini, City of Santa Rosa
Jeff Kolin, City of Santa Rosa
Chuck Regalia, City of Santa Rosa
Elizabeth Gunther, City of Santa Rosa
Marc Ebbin, City of Santa Rosa

And seven Strategy Team Members:

Cay Goude, USFWS
Carl Wilcox, CDFG
Mike Monroe, USEPA
Colleen Ferguson, County/Cities
Keith Kaulum, Environmental Community
Dan Schurman, Laguna Foundation
Carolyn Wasem, Private Landowner Community

It’s notable that Santa Rosa had five of the 16 Implementation Committee members present. Rohnert Park and Cotati had three each, and the County two. Windsor had no representative. Two members represented the federal Fish & Wildlife Service, and one was from California Fish & Game.

Ed Brauner, of Brauner Consulting & Mediation, was Facilitator. Brauner was formerly Santa Rosa’s Deputy City Manager; and like retired City Manager Ken Blackman, he’s now a private consultant.

Someone--perhaps Brauner--asked whether the participants wanted the meeting notes made public:

It was brought up to the group that the notes of the Conservation Strategy Team are posted on the City of Santa Rosa web-site for review by the public. The question was posed as to whether there was any objection to posting the notes of this joint meeting on the web-site. No objections were voiced.”

The notes say that as the Joint Meeting began,

the Implementation Committee handed its written comments to the Strategy Team on the November 16, 2004 peer review draft of the conservation strategy. The Strategy Team indicated its intent to review and incorporate these comments, as appropriate into the draft conservation strategy by the end of March, and to have a new administrative draft working copy to the Implementation Committee by April 6.

It was agreed that there needs to be ongoing information sharing between the Committee and the Team as the conservation strategy process is completed. It was also mentioned that a joint subcommittee of the Team and Committee may be a good way of addressing issues that involve both biology and implementation.”

The Team’s meeting notes called for seven more meetings between March and August--two more in March, three in April, and one each in June and August. And the Joint Meeting notes say,

It was agreed that the Committee and Team need to meet jointly from time to time through this process. The next joint meeting will be held on April 27, from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM, at the Santa Rosa Municipal Services Center – South, 69 Stony Circle, Room 5.

If the Team met again in March and April--including the scheduled meeting with the Implementation Committee April 27--no one bothered to post the meeting notes.