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Has Sanger been conditioned to expect a different "normal"?

I sincerely meant the compliment I paid to the city at the March 21 city council meeting when I told the council what a good job I thought the city did with its March 14 planning commission workshop. 

The workshop was attended by about 200 residents who wanted to learn more about the state ordered rezoning of about 63 acres in Sanger to accommodate affordable housing. 

In my opinion, at that time, the city attorney Hilda Cantu Montoy, the development director Tom Navarro and the senior planner David Breletic did about as good a job as possible explaining the complex situation and answering questions about it.

I came away from the workshop convinced that other communities in California were probably struggling just as hard with the state's unreasonable demands as Sanger.

I came away from the workshop convinced that Sanger residents had every reason to be upset with the state and no really good reason to be upset with the City of Sanger for simply trying to comply with those unreasonable demands by the state. That was before I reached out to city managers in Reedley and Dinuba to find out how much trouble they were having dealing with those doggone downright unreasonable state demands. 

I chose Dinuba and Reedley because they're about the same size as Sanger and because the Herald has sister newspapers in both towns, the Dinuba Sentinel and the Reedley Exponent.

The responses from Nicole Zieba in Reedley and from Luis Patlan in Dinuba were very similar. To paraphrase their comments only slightly, "What unreasonable demands? What problems?" 

To my surprise not all communities in California are going through what Sanger is going through.

That's a myth that, in my new opinion, is being repeated at city council and planning commission meetings and workshops to try to hide the fact that Sanger just flat out dropped the ball and its clumsy attempt to catch up is just "normal."

Maybe it's only normal for Sanger. 

Without paraphrasing, here's what the Reedley city manager told the Herald by email, "Reedley did all of this zoning several years ago.  We are very conscientious about getting out early on issues, making sure our public is thoroughly aware of what we are doing, holding as many meetings as we need to ..."

The Dinuba city manager said by email, "The City of Dinuba included sufficient land in its adopted General Plan to accommodate the RHNA (Regional Housing Need Allocation) numbers for very low, low, moderate and above moderate income housing. Thus, the city [Dinuba] does not have to rezone any property to meet state housing requirements." 

So Reedley and Dinuba, with good planning and timely action, got out in front of the zoning situation and avoided the problem now facing Sanger.

How did Sanger wind up squarely behind the zoning eight ball? Seems like it might have a lot to do with a lack of good planning and timely action, no matter what smoke and mirrors are used to distract you at city council and planning commission meetings and workshops. 

So yes, in my most recent opinion, Sanger residents do have really good reasons - 63 of them in fact - to be upset with the city. I'm no longer feeling sorry for the city, just for its residents. 

The long incomprehensible delay in getting around to dealing with the state's often repeated requests has created a situation where it's no longer possible to come up with a good solution to the problem. 

It makes me wonder how many other situations like this are being ignored? It makes me wonder if Sanger has been conditioned to expect a different "normal" when it comes to municipal governance than Reedley or Dinuba? 

•••

I planted zinnia flower seeds Tuesday morning in the cracks, crevices, craters and potholes in the street in front of the Sanger Herald.

There are already weeds growing in the rutted and cracked pavement in the 700 block of N street, so I know the ground is fertile. I was hoping a little rain shower would give the seeds a good watering. 

I believe the Herald may soon be in line to win a downtown Sanger beautification award.

•••

Congratulationsto everyone involved in the more than decade long, sometimes rocky process of getting the Sanger Veterans Park's  first phase at the corner of Jensen and Indianola avenues ready for its ceremonial groundbreaking last week. 

•••

So there is no misunderstanding, I am not a big fan of Dolores Huerta. I think she sometimes takes credit for the accomplishments of others. However, I have become a fan of the small local group called Vecinos Unidos or Neighbors United that operates under the umbrella of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.  

I admire the way the group seeks to educate and involve its members in community activities. It moved a meeting from this Thursday to this Friday when it found out the planning commission was going to meet on Thursday.

Instead, many of the members will attend the planning commission meeting.

If you'd like to check out the Friday Neighbors United get together, it will be from 6-8 p.m. at the Vecinos Hall, corner of 7th and O streets in downtown Sanger. There'll be food and raffle prizes and maybe even some speculation about Sanger's curious zoning problems. 

Please direct your questions or comments to sangerherald@gmail.com

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