DANVILLE -- Opponents of the general plan claim Danville is bowing to outside forces that want to set its future goals.

The main speaker at a Thursday town hall meeting claimed local government is being usurped by regional bureaucracies and that changes being made for Danville's 2030 general plan implement the policies of Agenda 21--a United Nations sustainable development action plan signed by 172 countries in 1992.

About 100 people attended the meeting at the Veterans Memorial Building that was planned by opponents of the town plan to guide future zoning.

Heather Gass, a real estate agent and member of Citizens Town Hall, was the main speaker.

"Power and money and control are being taken to a higher and higher level and to these unelected boards and bodies that are making the decisions," Gass said during her 30-minute presentation.

Save Open Space-Danville member Maryann Cella, Friends of Danville member Mike Arata and former Congressman Bill Baker also spoke.

Mayor Newell Arnerich, council members Robert Storer, Renee Morgan, and Karen Stepper and Town Manager Joe Calabrigo were in the audience but did not speak.

The meeting came one week after the Planning Commission recommended approval of the 2030 general plan and the associated Sustainability Action Plan.


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The commission recommended approval of both plans after five well-attended meetings where speakers overwhelmingly opposed aspects of both plans, especially increases in zoning for low-income, high density housing and allowing for more residential development on agricultural land.

Save Open Space-Danville, Citizens Town Hall, and Friends of Danville organized Thursday's meeting to inform residents of their opposition to the plans that will go to the Town Council on March 5.

Gass said sustainable development goals of Agenda 21, such as walkable communities and high-density housing, are being implemented at the local level by the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, as well as nongovernmental organizations, by doling out taxpayer-funded grants to local governments for compliance.

"Danville is a sustainable community already," she said. "What's wrong with single-family residential homes? What's wrong with having a yard? What's wrong with having your children outside where you can watch them? Nothing is wrong with that."

Cella spoke to the crowd about Measure S, a growth-control measure Danville voters passed in 2000. Cella's group is gathering signatures for a voter initiative to extend and strengthen Measure S. The group is demanding a public vote on whether 70 homes can be built on agricultural land on Magee Ranch on Diablo Road.

Arata passed out sheets with annual salaries of ABAG and MTC workers, many of which were above $100,000. He called them overpaid bureaucrats dictating Bay Area policies.

"We're not anti-government, but we want the government in Danville to be controlling our destiny and that's what this war is all about," Baker said in concluding remarks.

"I moved to Danville so I could be closer to our local government," Danville resident Brian Cameron said after the meeting. "They seem now to be giving up control to unelected bodies to get our tax money back."

Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at Twitter.com/Jason_Sweeney.

UPCOMING MEETINGS
Opponents to Danville general plan changes will hold another town hall meeting, 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Veterans Memorial Building, 400 Hartz Ave.
The Town Council will discuss general plan changes at 7:30 p.m. March 5 at the Danville Community Center, 420 Front St.