Wrong move on fast tracking

EDITORIAL: Wrong move on fast tracking

The decision by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to gut its own project review process is unfortunate and should be reconsidered.
On Tuesday, the supervisors by a 3-2 vote authorized "fast track" review for mines, solar and wind power plants that would skip the county's Planning Commission.
Well, maybe it's because quarries and solar and wind power projects are so desperately needed that using the normal process is intolerable; but that assumption would be naive.
The move was made because a majority of the board doesn't want to hear the public howl.
The beneficiary is, of course, Granite Construction and its proposed Liberty Quarry.
That project, which had been the subject of years of controversy, was turned down in February ---- much to the cheers of local residents.
However, several maneuvers brought it back to life.
First, Supervisor John Tavaglione, who voted against the original project in February, surprisingly supported an after-the-fact approval of the quarry's environmental impact report in May.
Granite then returned to the game by revising its plans and scaling the project back slightly. It proposed to mine 4 million tons of rock a year instead of 5 million tons, over 50 years instead of 75.
Now Tavaglione, with Supervisors John Benoit and Marion Ashley, is poised to give Granite a break by not pushing the "new" proposal back to the Planning Commission, where public hearings would again provide an opportunity for the outraged citizenry to complain.
And opponents predict the majority will try to approve the quarry before Tavaglione leaves the board, assuming he is elected next month to a Riverside-area seat in Congress. It is anticipated he would be replaced by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown with a more liberal supervisor who is more likely to oppose the project.
Adoption of a transparent planning process applicable to all who propose projects is a sensible way to govern.
Twisting the process to give special treatment to Granite does little but make residents view government as the captured interest of special interest. It creates cynicism and devalues the democracy.

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