23 Aug 2014
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Protesters Expected at Napa Workshop

Jeering demonstrators have disrupted public workshops being held around the Bay Area to get public input on how to balance housing and transportation needs with a state mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The next workshop is in Napa tonight.

Large groups of shouting, sign-carrying protesters have recently disrupted several workshops around the Bay Area, held to gather public input on regional planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"It's social engineering!" repeatedly yelled one demonstrator at Tuesday night's One Bay Area , as heard in our video by San Rafael Patch editor Nicole Ely.

In Santa Rosa last week, KSRO reported that police had to remove a group of protesters who wouldn't stop shouting and thrusting signs in front of city officials at another workshop in the series.

"It was about as anti-democratic as anything I’ve ever seen in this county,” Santa Rosa City Council member Gary Wysocki told KSRO interviewer Curtiss Kim afterward.

“These folks don’t believe in the democratic process: That’s the message I got,” Wysocki continued.

“They didn’t come to listen, they came to shout people down.”

Groups of as many as 20 protesters have also interrupted recent workshops in Dublin and Concord held by One Bay Area, which is a campaign name for the joint effort by regional authorities such as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments to create a nine-county Sustainable Communities Strategy that complies with a 4-year-old state law on air pollution. 

State mandate or secret U.N. link?

The next workshop in the series is scheduled for Napa tonight, and regional planners appear to be expecting another round of heckling.

Protesters say they believe the regional planning initiative is linked to , a 1992 United Nations report that makes non-binding recommendations for sustainability and environmental responsibility in fighting poverty.

In fact, regional authorities say, the public workshops are a way for local communities to have a voice in how their regions comply with a state mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

As Ely reports on San Rafael Patch: In 2008, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 375, which requires the state's metropolitan areas to develop  long-term plans for land use, housing and transportation that will reduce the per-capita carbon dioxide emissions from cars.

Silencing local voices?

By shouting down speakers at the regional workshops, the protesters are depriving local communities of their right to be represented in the final plan for emissions reduction under S.B. 375, said Napa County Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht.

Eve Kahn, a Napa Realtor and longtime anti-sprawl activist, also sees the protests as counterproductive—not only to the goal of regional planning to reduce emissions, but also to the activists' own objectives.

"I can't believe that being disruptive to this point is helping their message," Kahn said.

Tonight's meeting, scheduled for 5:45 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the , is currently "overbooked," according to the onebayarea.org website; a waiting list is available.

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