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Phony Information

August 14, 1993

The dispute involving conflicting financial feasibility reports on the proposed Port Hueneme RV resort is merely a continuation of the way in which the city has attempted to gain approval of this project by fabricating phony or misleading information.

The city initially tried to complete a memorandum of understanding with the State Lands Commission. The city had represented that no significant issues existed and was so confident of approval that it sent a large delegation to Sacramento, including the mayor, to participate in the formal ratification. The lands commission belatedly learned that indeed numerous significant issues, including possible violation of state and federal law, were associated with this project. The city was then offered a face-saving opportunity to withdraw the agreement.

Later the city suffered additional setbacks as the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service re-evaluated its assessment of the project as did the California Department of Fish and Game and thr State Resources Agency. Again, the primary factor was related to acquiring information which showed that the city had substantially misinformed the agencies.

The project next suffered a severe setback when the official staff report for the California Coastal Commission recommended denial. The report relied on new information, once again, which refuted what the city had submitted. Still, the city thought it might gain approval of the project by using its unusual power in the political realm of the commission (Councilman Dorill Wright is also a member of the Coastal Commission). When it became apparent that the city would be short on votes, it was again able to maneuver a face-saving withdrawal of the project.

During this process the Sierra Club and Surfside 3 filed a lawsuit against the city for abusing its discretionary powers by certifying an EIR which failed to honestly evaluate significant impacts. The city initially defended the document but has now abandoned its original position. The city now has to go back and do a new EIR. Incredibly, the city has now admitted that "we were naive" regarding impacts on biological resources.

Whether they are indeed naive, mistaken or intentionally providing false information, one thread runs true: Each time the city has attempted to achieve an independent confirmation of the project from an agency outside of the city, they have been rebuffed. The city's reliance on a phonied-up feasibility report is, therefore, to be expected.

ALAN SANDERS

Port Hueneme

Alan Sanders is conservation chairman of the Sierra Club's Sespe Group of the Los Padres Chapter.

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