A Sad Night in Brentwood

Vice Mayor Bryant calls for police assistance as Councilwoman Rarey explains her support of Measure L in response to angry residents.  Almost everyone in attendance pleaded for the city council NOT to vote in favor of holding a special election one full year early as requested by housing developers.  The crowd wasn't sure who might be escorted out of the building . . . Meanwhile, a frequently asked question I get is:  As a community activist and city council member, how did you successfully argue against and lead a grassroots group against urban sprawl, and change the county urban limit line (ULL)? The answer is: it was accomplished by the residents of Brentwood in the timeframe of 1998-99. In those days, without social media, it was a lot more work than defeating recent Measure L, which would have allowed development outside that same growth border. It's a great memory knowing a fantastic grassroots citizens group, well organized, could defeat sprawl development. It started with educating the electorate. I conducted community meetings, and organized volunteers who distributed “door hangers” throughout all of Brentwood. The door hangers were designed to encourage our county supervisors to do the right thing in voting. It was widely recognized that the swing vote was our supervisor, Joe Canciamilla. Joe's reputation was as a no nonsense man who almost always voted in a manner that would get him re-elected. All indications were that he was somewhat okay with the established growth pattern. So our strategy was: Brentwood residents were encouraged to tear off a postcard-sized portion of the door hanger; sign it as a protest against changing the ULL; put a stamp on it, and mail to Steve Young. Hundreds of these (signed by residents) were returned to me. One day, I drove to Martinez, and literally dropped off a large cloth bag, nearly 1000 full . . . on the desk of County Supervisor, Joe Canciamilla. It was very similar to the movie, “Miracle On 34th Street” in which all the letters written to Santa Claus proved (to the court) there really was a Santa Claus! This action apparently caused Joe to change his mind, and he voted in favor of the ULL! We won!  However, as you know from Measure L, certain developers will almost certainly try again! It can't be changed without voter approval.

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