Patch was cc'd on a letter from a citizen to Town Manager Jill Keimach:
I have several issues with your communications with the community on the Town website and the Patch regarding yet another new plan for a fenced dog park at Rancho Laguna. Both imply that receipt of input through these outlets will help the Town make a decision on this new fenced dog park plan. Both fail to disclose that the Town can’t legally act on a fenced dog park until after the referendum election at the earliest. They also fail to disclose that the Town has received input on many similar plans from numerous people over four years who made the effort to participate in workshops, citizens committees and town meetings.
By implying that this new dog park proposal will somehow solve the Rancho Laguna issue, you are misleading the community and violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the referendum law. By law, the Town must respond to the referendum in one of two ways: (1) it can repeal the ordinance in which case it cannot enact the same ordinance or anything similar for one year after the repeal, or (2) it can submit the ordinance to the voters in the November general election or at a special election. Any action by the Town to approve or implement a fenced dog park at Rancho Laguna before that time would be in clear violation of the referendum statute. It is unclear whether the Council can even discuss a specific fenced plan at this point without violating the law. The only possible use of the so-called input from these outlets would be to begin implementation of a plan sometime after the election assuming that the referendum is defeated. If that is the purpose, seeking the input now is deceptive and a further waste of staff time and resources. It also insures that the “acrimony” will continue at least until November, in spite of the disingenuous Patch lead-in stating that “town leaders are looking for a way around the acrimony.”
Moreover, this so-called “conversation with the community” is an insult to the 1800+ people who signed the referendum petition and to the referendum process itself. The over 100 people who circulated the petitions actually did have conversations with the community, in person, actual dialogue, discussion, questions and answers. To ignore the referendum input and describe these internet surveys as “conversations” is insulting and just plain wrong.
It is a further insult that you actually state that this input will be used to help the Town Council make a decision on Rancho Laguna Park. The signatures on the referendum petition were legally verified by the County Elections office to be registered Moraga voters. Why don’t you use that input? Who are the people who will be responding to these internet questions? You will have no way of knowing whether they live in Moraga, are registered to vote in Moraga, or even exist.
The effect, if not the goal, of these “outreach” efforts is to confuse the community and give the impression that the inevitable and only desirable resolution of this issue is a fenced dog park. Your submission to the community of this new proposal while a fenced park at Rancho Laguna is the subject of a referendum without any explanation of when and how such a plan could legally be implemented does a disservice to the community. It also appears to be a blatant attempt to circumvent the referendum process.