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Out for Sole Control

August 31, 1993

A substantial difference exists between the type of information being made available by the opponents of the Port Hueneme RV Resort and the city.

Perhaps this is because the city is in the unusual position of being the project proponent as well as the primary reviewing agency. This obvious conflict of interest renders meaningless the normal environmental review and public hearings process. The City Council has broad powers to accept or reject information as it sees fit. Naturally, its inclination has been to confirm that all of its previous suppositions and decisions were correct. The city is then in the position of being able to "buy" whatever opinion it wants from consultants. There is little need for accuracy or objectivity, as the ultimate approval by the City Council is a forgone conclusion.

A previous disagreement over the truth relating to impacts on biological resources caused by the proposed project ended with a recognition by many responsible agencies that the city had supplied false information. In that dispute a number of expert witnesses, mostly biologists, came forward to refute the city's position that sensitive wildlife did not exist in Port Hueneme and would not be affected. None of these people were paid.

The city spent a lot of money to get the kind of biological information it wanted, but in the end it all fell apart. The same scenario is being repeated with the city's market feasibility report. It may be that as other issues related to this project are subjected to public scrutiny, they will all suffer a similar fate.

R. LESLYE STERN

Port Hueneme

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