“The Delta Stewardship Council is the Coastal Commission on steroids.”
- Assemblyman Bill Berryhill
The natives, as they say, are getting restless.
And it is all due to a growing uneasiness about a mutant super-strain of government that the California Legislature created because they lack the ability, desire, and temperament to address issues of how 70 percent of the state’s water supply passes through the Delta and where it will end up.
The Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) was established as an autonomous form of overlay government much like the California Coastal Commission and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. The DSC is mandated by the California Legislature to reach goals that are described as “co-equal.” It supposedly will balance protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem with the pressing need to establish a manageable and reliable water supply for California.
It sounds enticing until you realize the DSC was given broad guidelines to devise its governance plan. The draft 2,200-page governance plan would give the DSC control in various degrees apparently that they see fit on land use issues in the primary and secondary Delta zones but also on tributaries that flow into the Delta.
The DSC may say that is a broad and sweeping statement but it is no more so than the document that they have created that only opposing armies of lawyers could love.
It wasn’t too many moons ago that a then State Senator Mike Machado repeatedly voiced his frustration that he couldn’t get anyone on San Joaquin County to agree on anything about water issues. Today the DSC has accomplished what Machado could never build - a completely united consensus of agencies within the county gearing up to battle the DSC.
What accomplished such a feat were the DSC comments on a street plan modification in Mountain House, a recycling center proposed for Stockton, and an intersection study in Thornton.
The DSC staff responded to environmental studies on the three. They determined only the Mountain House proposal would have an impact on the Delta so therefore they could ultimately squash it if they so desired.
The uproar has been growing like a grass fire fanned by the Santa Ana winds.
The DSC has responded by saying they meant only to use the three instances of examples. For an agency that likes to brag on its website about its commitment to “transparency” they need to drop the Great Wizard of Oz charade.
True transparency would have been taking the three projects together as an example, say why they do or don’t come under the DSC’s purview and then send a cover letter to agencies they ultimately could possibly usurp land use decisions and explain how they intend the process to work.
That, of course, would be too transparent as it would have triggered a healthy debate and pushed back from local agencies in the process that is creating the governance plan.
By proceeding as they have, the DSC has helped fan the flames of distrust even higher than if they had practiced their vow of transparency.
But why should that bother them? After all, they are a mutated strain of government that will one day govern the lives of people in the secondary Delta zone without the people they govern having any say in who governs them.
Berryhill is right. The Delta Stewardship Commission is the California Coastal Commission on steroids. It is being delivered Trojan Horse-style to enslave much of San Joaquin County to the whims of a chosen few who no doubt will act with all the sensitivity to local property concerns as Sherman marching through the South.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-249-3519.