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Access committee could buy my house

Al Walker

Do you ever wonder why citizens are so cynical about their government and their elected officials? Do you ever wonder why conservatives are always looking for some way to control government? Do you ever wonder why some people get so frustrated with government that they join radical groups or simply drop out of participating?

Well, I never wonder either. The only people who wonder why are the national media and politicians. The reason is so simple – people do not trust the government, at any level. As I have written before, something happens to people when they are elected to public office. I guess that they get so inundated with do-good, feel- good ideas that they just wander off to the left and forget about right and wrong.

A perfect example was the discussion at the June 5 commission meeting on whether or not the county should help finance a parking lot in a residential area on Foothill Road. It was defeated by a vote of 3 to 2, but for the wrong reason. Yes, I strongly respect the argument of commissioners Kite and Curtis that the citizens had overwhelmingly rejected spending tax money for this purpose in the 1996 election. Quite honestly, I was shocked that two commissioners would vote to spend taxpayers’ money in an area that the voters had overwhelmingly rejected, especially the one who opposed it when he was a candidate. Feel- good can really get to you.

The sad thing is that money is not the issue. This is a residential area zoned for single family residences and not for parking lots and an uncontrolled park entrance. The proponents argue for access to the forest, which I favor, but the access already exists just up the road at the Job’s Peak development. The issue, to the proponents, is that the Job’s Peak location does not allow horses and they want a place to park their horse trailers. I have no idea why the commissioners did not make a strong stand to allow horses when they made their deal with the developer, but they didn’t. This county has a long history of ignoring the public good when it comes to the will of the developer.

The thing that really scared me, and should scare every home owner, was the final statement of Commission Chairman Etchegoyen. He stood in favor of the parking lot and said that a “not in my back yard” attitude of the home owners in the area is irrelevant. What that said to me, and should say to you, is that he feels that zoning and land use ordinances are meaningless and can be radically changed at any time on the whim of three commissioners. What was even worse was that not one of the five commissioners even mentioned the subject of zoning in their statements. How can one trust a government that has no respect for the most important covenant between that government and the home owner? To most Americans, their biggest investment is their home. Their decision on where to live is largely driven by the neighborhood as defined by the laws and regulations that exist. It is a moral abomination for the government to change those rules after the fact.

I have seen and read about the government approving plans that are very detrimental to established neighborhoods, both here and around the country. The reason that it happens is the same as why government gets away with most dumb things that they do. They always attack a minority. The rest of the public may read about it in the paper and think that the new idea may have some merit and anyway, it doesn’t affect me. I say to those who feel that way, the question of whether or not you will be affected is not the issue, the question is when you will be that minority. Just look at what the government just did to the home owners around their newly approved RV park. I was sure that they would disapprove that turkey.

I will conclude with a few comments on the aforementioned commission meeting and access in general. The meeting was long and many people spoke, both in favor and against the proposal. I thought that all of the speakers, except one, were sincere and honest in their statements. I think that most of the proponents went home and said that they really believe in property rights, but this issue is just too important to consider them. After all, those people in the foothills shouldn’t have cut off access to the forest. The one negative exception was a well known and long-time member of the uncontrolled growth, developer community. Here is a guy who filled his pockets with money, with absolutely no concern for the community, coming before the commission asking the government to fix the problem he helped to create. Not one home owner had anything to do with the development and zoning in the foothills. Now we are the “fall guy” for the developers who never had any plan except how to put money in their pocket. What hypocrisy.

Then this guy pulls a typical Clinton, Socialist Democrat, trump card. He stated that some property owner in the foothills told him that they did not want people from the Ranchos in their neighborhood. Typical leftist. If you have no reasonable argument, try to separate people by race or religion or economic situation or where they live. I was insulted. Let it be known that many members of the access group live in mansions on huge estates where no one can get within a half mile of their home. They could buy and sell my entire neighborhood with their entertainment budget. I never considered their economic condition a factor in this controversy. Just don’t sit in your palace and try to drive this kind of wedge between the middle class home owners in my neighborhood and the middle class home owner in the Ranchos. You disgust me.

I have two recommendations on the issue of increased access. First, the access community should put their resources into opening the current access at the Job’s Peak development to horses, before the properties are sold. If the access is there for hikers, I don’t see the objection to allowing horses. I want to state again, access is available now except for horses. Commissioner Etchegoyen’s statement about not being able to hike to the top of Job’s Peak from Douglas County was untrue and out of line. The access is there now. This issue is only about horses and where to park the horse trailers.

My second point is about access to the Carson River. Some of the areas along the river are very beautiful and wild but have no access for the general public. This could be very easily remedied if Commissioner Etchegoyen would put his influence to work and is as dedicated to access as he says. At the west end of Seventh Street in Minden is a big open field which could be used for a parking lot without really bothering anyone. From there, people could hike or ride their horses along old ranch roads and paths to and along the river without really bothering anyone. We could put up a sign that says “No motorized vehicles and stay out of the way of anyone who might be working along your way.” Think about it.

Editor’s note: Al Walker is a resident of Gardnerville.