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Rock the Hall

Out on the streets of Fort Bragg, a food truck entrepreneur was starting to go for it. Kerry Jane DeVito, who started the food truck “Renaissance” back in March with Councilman Bernie Norvell’s strong behind-the-scenes backing, has been parking her incredibly cute little blue food trailer right in front of the Fort Bragg Credit Union — as close to the smack dab center of things as you can get. Kerry Jane’s Sugar Coated Catering blew up the relevant chapter of the Development Department’s “anti-anything” regulations and launched herself directly into the commercial mainstream. She earned her success and helped her city immensely.

More fabulously exotic, high expertise, food truck vendors are soon to follow. Wait till Fort Bragg gets a load of Chef LaGran (Grand?) and his stunningly beautiful partner Rain. They are aiming at a spot behind the company store. I don’t know what they are selling, but I’m buying it (I think it’s Caribbean). In a long line of callously boring city council meetings — “street celebration” has been too far out of the box for deadhead public administrators to love. 

Last Friday, the first open-air “Block Party” on Franklin Street went off like a firecracker, public participation in the mill site planning has been meaningful and intense for the first time in 20 years. The Council met in closed session to talk among themselves about getting in on the bargain basement GP mill site sell-off that Harvest Market and the Skunk were the first to understand and exploit.

The City’s Anti-Development Director, excuse me, Development Director Marie Jones is in full retreat.

Civic opportunity is suddenly everywhere. Doing nothing for 20 well-paid years suddenly seems a bit odd. Ms. Jones is trying, with trademark condescension, to adapt — sort of. Meanwhile, the Pattons have pulled their application for Hare Creek. The Patton family dumped hundreds of thousands into Marie’s permission machine and still could not get through the regulatory barbed wire. Said wire was made fatally lethal by semi-shadowy Jacob Patterson, our prize new wannabe-low-key-ivy-league-local-activist-attorney (WLKILLAA). The same person who has shot so many holes in so many things governmental this year. Jacob thinks rocking City Hall to its foundations on any given day is standard operating procedure.

In the midst of so much revolution, I personally have been conspicuously low key. Hell, the fact is, you don’t need me anymore.

You can find me at Headlands hunkered over my latte like an embittered ex-spy past his useful prime mumbling about council transparency and my thwarted compulsion to clap and boo.

At the Saturday morning Special Meeting of the City Council on the mill site, I “cursed the mayor” as he piously described the outrage. “Screw you,” I think was the direct quote. Can't have that. It shut down the meeting while they immediately recessed and took a walk to regain their shattered composure.

The meeting, which I saw later from exile, made headway. George Reinhardt and his newest front group, the Noyo Headlands Consortium, made their points and the public comments were all cogent and all about the same thing: Open space for god's sake. How hard is it?

At some point, prior to the special Saturday morning meeting, George had engaged Jim Tarbell to write a somewhat rambling, but generally interesting, chronology of the mill site with a steaming slice of indictment for GP motives and probity. The piece covered a lot of historical turf, but graciously did not touch on Mr. Reinhardt’s once persistent support of Development Director Jones previous proposal for “Me-Too” mansion mega-development. That was the “Specific plan” of unfortunate memory.

At some point, George had a long, dark night of the soul. Now, he just wants to daylight the creeks. Marie has announced, with no small disdain, that daylighting the creek would take at least 14 years. George Reinhardt, Marie Jones and Supervisor Dan Gjerde (that would be silent Dan to you readers) ran the “Specific Plan” up the regulatory flagpole a few years back and got creamed by the Coastal Commission.

With dexterous intrepitude, Ms. Jones still managed to get GP to spring for a couple of $mil in payment for what was, after all, a truly imaginative synthesis of overplanning and overdevelopment. At least GP paid.

The Development Department was glad to get the money and even more glad to keep it. Success of a kind. Dan Gjerde (whatever did become of him? oh yeah) and Reinhardt sang persistently in Ms. Jones’s choir. The Tarbell piece could have run in that beacon of freedom and journalistic excellence the AVA. (I am pretty sure.) They ran it instead in the giveaway real estate magazine where you can see pictures of houses you can’t afford.

It certainly stood out in that esteemed publication. Perhaps not so much in the AVA. They handed out copies at the meeting to ensure dissemination.

You can trace it all back to councilpersons Jessica Morsell-Haye and Bernie Norvell. The food trucks, the mill site, the open-air bash, the possible purchase of mill site property, the new transparency. Councilman Lindy Peters and Mayor Will Lee are tagging along like the tail of a kite and Tess Albin Smith is dragging dead weight. 

Maybe you do need me.

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