I sent this “Letter to the Editor” re: ESA and Wed Meeting at City Hall

I sent this “Letter to the Editor”

 

Letter to the Editor: ESA

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Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) = Uncompensated Expropriation.
The City held an Open House Wed. June 27 in Council Chambers to a SRO crowd of Richmond stakeholders, many of whom have an “ESA ” designation on their private properties.
With few exceptions, the ESA designations applied by the City to private Richmond lands are almost exclusive to Richmond ALR property owners.
The reports are available on line, but in summary the ALR land is deemed either “farmed”, or it is categorized as “ESA “if one has not farmed nor landscaped. 
Or,  more to the point, if such land has not been farmed , and left to grow wild and not maintained ie contains birch trees, unpruned blueberry bushes , blackberries etc.etc.  it will likely have an ESA designation.
It appears that whether the area deemed ESA contains indigenous or invasive species is irrelevant.
Can such ESA designated land in the ALR be cleared and farmed ?
Yes..but the operative word submitted by the  City was only by a  “Legitimate” Farmer.
In other words, if one can prove that farming is one’s primary occupation, once can clear the ESA portions of the given land . However the question was submitted re: smaller ALR- ESA designated parcels that can NOT be farmed profitably . Such properties form the majority of Richmond’s ALR.
Now it gets very interesting.
In such scenarios, the landowner would only be permitted to clear enough land to build a home as per City ALR residential guidelines. However,under the City’s proposed plan, the remaining ESA designation on one’s private ALR property may be frozen by the City from any further encroachment by the owner. 
Once the ESA designation is applied, it appears the onus will be placed on the owner to prove otherwise and only then can pursue traditonal property rights.
To remedy this City ESA designation may require permits, the  owners may have to pay for private consultant reports, etc. and/or  penalties/fines  may be imposed by the City if one tries to pursue ones traditional property rights re :any/all impact on the City’s ESA designation on one’s private property.
The Executive Summary of this City plan  is that another red tape attack on the property rights of Richmond’s private ALR land and an uncompensated expropriation of such rights.
RAH
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COMMENT :
I sent this letter yesterday.
You had to be there Wed. Nite….
This issue may start a civil revolt in Richmond.
If you can access a map of the City ESA zones….the vast majority of the ESA lands are owned by various Gov’t agencies. The remaining Richmond ESA lands are privately – owned and in the ALR.
This study ,which cost approx $  150,000 so far, is aimed at a specific group of Private Property Owners.
ESA sounds like real sexy label, a benefit for the public. No, it is not it is OUTRIGHT THEFT of Property Rights.
This study is a sign of bureaucracy gone wild, ie out of control , fiscally irresponsible and a cancer that is focussed on  self – preservation. In essence,  the majority of Richmonds ALR lands are less than 2 acres and cannot be farmed profitably. Leasing the land ? the market lease rate is approx. $300 acre/year = not worth the hassle.
Many of these parcels have no active farming and the land has simply gone wild…with various trees and shrubs .  Now….many of the species that are in the ESA are not natural, many are invasive species as Richmond was created by dykes and keeping out the Fraser River..aka “man -made”. This created an artificial environment for what exists NOW.
The consultant was present, and confirmed the aforementioned, but that these ” overgrown plants etc. serve many purposes that benefit nature……..blah blah blah “.
In addition, we have the Agricultural Advisory Committee ( AAC ), which is stacked with Richmond’s Professional Farmers which is simply ” what’s in it for ME ” ?.
Well…gee…if land has an ESA designation does that mean you can’t farm the land ?
Cutting to the Chase: The City Planner  stated if you are a “LEGITIMATE”  farmer the ESA designation can be ignored and the land cleared and farmed.
My radar went in overdrive, given I consider myself quite well -versed on these issues. LEGITIMATE  Farmer ? I asked the planner to define “legitimate” farmer. As I suspected,  he stated it would be a professional farmer, ie one would have to prove one makes a living farming…primary income(which implies the City would be party to ones personal Income Tax Returns.
Aha. As stated,  the majority of Richmond ALR properties are less than 2 acres. NO One can make a living farming these. Many of them have an ESA designation, which it appears to have been created by aerial photos and simply differentiated between “dark green shades”  which show tall tree growth, aka unused land.Simply trace over the borders to these areas.
I posed a “case scenario”  to the planner…a 2 acre parcel that has ESA designation. I want to build  a house….then what ?  Oh…I will be allowed to build a house , that’s a given, but  within the restrictions of the NEW City guidelines. (ie basically I can use the front 300 feet of my property for house ,driveway, septic field etc.
OK..now the clincher. What about the REST of the property?…now I had the City planner by the short hairs as I was carving my intials in his overpaid ASS.
He started to feel awkward and trying to chose his words carefully. He threw out words like permits, discuss it with City…..blah blah blah. 
 Cutting through this fog, I said…what if I want to clear the remaining wild growth and plan a lawn or landscape? . More fumbling on planners part to try an get a straight answer.
It became VERY clear that the City agenda was to take full control of small ALR parcels with wild overgrowth….a sacrifice to the GAIA “go green” cult. They made an ill – advised move to even create this designation 20+  years ago…and now they simply can’t drop it, but in fact, entrench it even more. I don’t think anyone in the General Public would care or even be aware. Thus the City has it own hidden agenda/s.
What appears to be unfolding is that the City is growing another bureaucracy. From the documents, they may “FINE”  people  if they clear the City ESA designation on their own private property…if they do not have a permit..if they are allowed by the City.   In addition, the landowner may also have to incurr the cost of a Private Consultant for any changes, as it appears the ESA designation is a given until proven otherwise.
I told the City planner in no uncertain terms these ESA properties are owned by private owners and this new draft on the ESA designation is  UNcompensated  Expropriation of private property. They want to further shackle a select sub -group of Richmond Property owners in AGENDA 21 fashion  with a subjective City “green” designation and deny them fair and equitable use of their own private property.
That is COMMUNISM and in a very sleazy and underhanded way
More treachery by this out – of – control City Hall
However, I think the City bit off far more than it can chew, and IMHO, the people who attended Wed Meeting are quite angry once the became aware of what is really going on.
Stay Tuned !!!
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