This responds to posts by a couple of individuals criticizing the lawsuit we filed on behalf of long-time Moraga resident, Steve Smith.
Rancho Laguna Park is valuable to all those who use it regularly. That includes more than just those people who use it during limited hours in the morning and evening to socialize, and exercise themselves and their dogs, as they walk and run off-leash. It also includes people who use the picnic and BBQ area on the north side of the park. Yet, the current plan by Moraga’s recreation director would eliminate the picnic and BBQ area on the north and east sides and create an all-day, fenced “dog park” that few people want. The plan thus hurts at least two groups that currently want the park to remain as is.
Moraga’s recreation director wants to transform the park from a rural oasis into a sports field and large playground more like parks in wide-open space such as in San Ramon. Assuming that is what the people of Moraga want – and there’s strong evidence that they do not - then the Town still must ensure compliance with the law. That includes the California Environmental Quality Act (called CEQA) and other laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. Right now, the recreation director has claimed that no vegetation will be cleared, but that’s not what he said in the past. He did no research and consulted with no biologists or other experts to see what impact concentrating dogs and people in the north and east sides of the park would have on the ecosystem, including the tributary that runs on the east side and leads into the San Leandro reservoir.
Instead, the Town claimed it was exempt from complying with CEQA and that was wrong. The Town’s plan also has unspecified and amorphous “phases” that will make changes to the park piecemeal, which is improper under CEQA if the phases together require CEQA review. The lawsuit challenges the lack of due process that threatens the environment at Rancho Laguna Park.
There are over 200 people who have signed petitions telling the Moraga Town Council that they do not want to change Rancho Laguna Park. On the other side of the issue is a small group of people who want to eliminate what has worked well for 25 years. This wasn’t an issue that was carefully considered by the Town; the decision steamrolled the “process,” and ignored the Town’s legal responsibility.
I suggest that the posters stop the ad hominem attacks on those who legitimately challenge the process, and consider the issues.