Sunday, March 25, 2007

Community Building

While others may differ, much of the reason we are here, it seems to me, is about building human communities where the centrality of respect for human dignity prevails, and the embrace of the natural world surrounds us, and since we have moved way beyond the possibility of the ancient farm-based economy of the village, the various manifestations of California suburban life, realized most favorably in our valley and foothills, seems just about ideal.

It is the folks who actually do the work of creating that, the trades people, the builders, developers, public administrators, politicians, and of course the eager buyers who rush to buy out suburbs before they are finished, rather than those who prioritize humanity on the bottom of the scale of importance in our world, who need to be respected for their contribution to that effort, instead of being (in our often topsy-turvy public discussions) demonized.

In our 2006 Research Report on the Auburn Dam Policy Environment, available on our web site , we discuss the development of this demonizing way of thinking and how it impacts the necessary work of building community.

Angelo K. Tsakopoulos: Top of the agenda: Communities and homes
By Angelo K. Tsakopoulos -
Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, March 25, 2007

I am deeply concerned about the two editorials, two news stories and a cartoon printed over the last few weeks in regard to our company, AKT Development, and our proposal that the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors study 3,400 acres of land in the east county as part of the general plan update process.

Since some of what was written included attacks against me personally, I thought I should start by sharing with your readers the root of my perspective. My family spent part of World War II as evacuees from our village home, with no certainty of return.

That experience, of homelessness, is one that has never left me.

When my team and I begin the process of readying a piece of land for development, this is where my mindset is: Communities and homes for people. That's what we have provided families in this region for nearly 50 years. We are proud to have been the developer of such projects as Laguna West, the first pedestrian-oriented, smart-growth community in California since World War II.

When we asked that our 3,400 acres be added to the tens of thousands of acres that the county will evaluate for possible urbanization, we had a very simple expectation: that there would be a civil, informative dialogue that would better educate our community about the property.

This dialogue never had a chance.

The Environmental Council of Sacramento, and several of its extreme environmentalist leaders, had no intention of allowing anyone to hear the pros and cons of developing this property. Why? For years, they have been advocating a position that no property should be considered for development outside of the urban services boundary. Ever. It's their holy grail.

It seems to us that members of The Bee's editorial page and at least one reporter also are caught up in their quest.

This is wrong. Not just because we think that a portion of the property should develop, but because we do not believe it is the role of ECOS to make this decision, using scare tactics and misinformation. We believe the community deserves a chance to hear the facts.

So what are the facts? The property is adjacent to planned and existing development, with the closest existing homes being less than a half mile away. Because the existing development is on the other side of the county line, and because El Dorado didn't participate in the Blueprint project, it's not information that has been regularly seen by Sacramento County staff. But it is there.