To the Editor: Comments on Walmart obligations

The following was circulated to members of the Ridgecrest City Council, as well as city staff, regarding the obligations Walmart apparently agreed to as part of the citizens’ initiative that allowed development in lieu of an environmental impact study.

Open letter to the City Council:

Our big takeaway from last night’s meeting is [City Manager Ron] Strand’s reply to my request that the council think extremely carefully about what it is doing. As I understood it, he has been and is continuing to direct staff to prepare the previous list of amendments (actually augmented further by additional changes being submitted by Walmart) for submittal to the Planning Commission in January ... with a recommendation for approval.

I also understand that Mr. Strand, as he has said in the several meetings we have had together, is unflinching in representing the city position, regarding the items in contention as legal and made possible because there is no signed copy of the Walmart Development Agreement.

“No signed Development Agreement” is also the reason that some individual councilmembers are giving in to the inquiring public.

Does the city really want to hang out there with the admission that it has clearly broke the law? One example of this illegality follows as a direct quote from the “INITITIATIVE MEASURE TO BE SUBMITTED DIRECTLY TO VOTERS” that was indeed submitted to the voters in this form. The full document is contained in the Public Handout.


“A. Pursuant to Government Code Section 65867.5 and in order to implement the provisions of the initiative and the specific plan adopted therein, the development agreement, attached hereto as Exhibit 2 (including all of its exhibits) and incorporated herein by this reference, is adopted as an ordinance of the city.

“B. Not later than five (5) days following the effective date of the initiative measure, the city, by and through its city manager, shall complete and sign the development agreement (Exhibit 2) on behalf of the city and shall obtain the signature of the holder of the fee title to the property referenced in the development agreement.

“C. Upon complete execution of the development agreement (Exhibit 2), the city clerk shall record the development agreement pursuant to government code Section 65865.5.”

Are all of you really doubly sure you want your names associated with that kind of reasoning? Reasoning that will summarily do away with millions of dollars in public benefit infrastructure improvements lawfully due the citizens of Ridgecrest and specifically protected by law? Why would you?

The public handout, backed by documents on our website which I highly recommend you become conversant with (www.ridgecrestcitizens, once again presents, for your individual reasoning on this matter, the background of how, when and most importantly what was intended and what was promised by the development agreement and other legally binding documents such as the city ordinances changes referenced above.

Over the last several months I have come to the disturbing conclusion that most of you do not yet fully understand what you are supporting. I don’t know the reason for that. It is very important to the citizens of Ridgecrest that you do understand. It is important to remember that it was a previous city council and a previous planning commission and a previous General Plan Action Committee made up of scores of citizen volunteers that spent several years working on the specific plan and in the specified improvements called out in the development agreement that you are seemingly casually and illegally giving away.

It is also very important to the future of upcoming significant agreements, such as those involved with the Indian casino, that the citizens can trust you as their leaders. Last but not least, it is obviously important to your individual reputations.

I remain hopeful that councilmembers will make every effort to understand this action thoroughly before allowing staff to put this on the backs, once again, of the planning commission.

In conclusion I would like to once again quote Councilman Mike Mower, who has so ably served our city on and off for many years: “Perception is reality in government. What matters is how the public views the council’s actions. When you make decisions — whether they are right or wrong — you have to be able to explain them to the public. We have no reason to believe it is the right thing to do unless we understand what’s happening.”

A full copy of this e-mail will be posted on our website for your reference.

Jim Fallgatter

Ridgecrest Citizens for Accountable Government

Story First Published: 2017-12-15