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Just In From Ukiah

I was entertained, the other day, to read in the Journal about the city at last lowering the boom on the Palace's dysfunctional owner Eladia Laines, and finally moving to hire a 'receiver' to take over the reins of the delusional project, but I had to laugh at the notion that this receiver (who would doubtlessly be paid handsomely out of the city’s humble coffers) would be able to, "borrow against the equity of the Palace to refurbishing the building."

Let us be rational about this; There is no equity in the palace hotel to borrow against! The value of the equity of the Palace ruins is an unknown, but one thing is certain; its actual monetary value at this point is a negative number; that is, the cost of the inevitable and necessary demolition of the building (because of the red tape it necessarily involves) exceeds the value of the property it occupies!

I remember a number of years ago, before Ms. Laines began her years of foot dragging excuses for inactivity, talking about the situation of the Palace with then City Councilman John McCowen, who opined something to the effect that without having a demolition permit in hand, that the Palace was a liability rather than an asset. This has only become more true in the intervening years of leaky roofs and rotting lumber.

Isn't it finally time for the City Council to pull its head out of the sand and deal forthrightly with this problem?! Instead of wasting a bunch of money on an overpaid 'receiver', wouldn't it make a lot more sense to just move right to soliciting demolition bids, when this is so clearly the eventual fate of the old husk of a building?

On a completely different matter, how annoying is the appeal of this completely bogus lawsuit aimed at stopping Costco from coming to Ukiah? I mean, even though the folks supposedly bringing the suit (under the preposterously named 'Citizens for Safety First' or some such nonsense), who have been acting as transparent shills for Food Maxx Corporation or their labor union, have now thrown in the towel and requested that their names be removed from the meritless suit (probably because of all the negative feedback they’ve received). How could it be that this frivolous challenge to the Costco EIR could still hang up progress on this worthwhile project for at least six months? (ahhh, just read that legal action was not filed before the deadline. Hallelujah!) Is Ukiah the capitol city of NIMBY(not in my back yard)ism? It is an indictment of our legal system that such silly lawsuits are permitted to go forward and to cause expensive delays in something as welcomed by the community as this exciting addition to our town and the county.

For those who don't know, there are a lot of good things about Costco; besides offering excellent prices on virtually everything they carry, they pay their workers handsomely, a fact that is obvious anytime you ask for help in a Costco store; unlike many of their competitors, most employees are highly competent and knowledgeable. Another thing I like about the company is that their CEO pays himself a relatively paltry salary compared to other CEOs of similar size companies. I guess he has earned the hatred of many of those CEOs by demonstrating that one can be an excellent large company CEO without having to pull 10 or 20 million bucks out of the company every year. I can't wait to see Costco open in Ukiah, but we've got to get those on and off ramps upgraded, and probably rebuild that entire Airport Park Boulevard, which is crumbling to pieces, before that can happen.

For another demonstration of pure, knee-jerk NIMBYism, the upwelling of opposition to the proposed slaughterhouse that was being talked about a while ago, was all too typical; probably a lot of folks opposed to it have no trouble pounding down a quarter pounder, but when forced to think about one of the necessary steps in the production of that burger, no! Not in my backyard!

Nevermind that such a facility would greatly benefit those rural farmers and ranchers who everyone professes to want to see staying productively on the land. Even the famous environmental writer Michael Pollan sees properly managed cattle grazing as a net benefit to the soil. The profit margins in ranching beef and sheep are lean, to say the least, and sometimes the difference between making and losing money can hinge on the cost of hauling livestock to the nearest slaughterhouse which may be in Petaluma or further.

On a subject closely related to NIMBYism, I was aghast to see the treatment given to a new cell phone tower that was recently installed just north of Orr Springs Road perhaps a quarter mile from State Street; as I observed it being built, I thought it was a perfectly handsome structure which blended right in with the industrial neighborhood, filled with power lines and poles, chain-link fences and metal buildings, so I almost burst out laughing when one day, I passed by and noticed that the cell phone tower had been all gussied up with scores or hundreds of what I assume were supposed to be fake redwood branches. REALLY!? First off, it looks ridiculous; like a giant bottle brush, and besides, who, in this gritty, most industrial part of Ukiah, is going to object one iota to a cell phone tower simply looking like a cell phone tower? I wonder what myopic bureaucracy compelled the builders of that tower to spend probably scores, if not hundreds of thousands on this ridiculous disguise of something that looked perfectly fine there in the first place? I thought they only did that kind of nonsense in places like Marin County where silly people have little to do but worry about the inflated value of their overpriced real estate and anything that may affect it.

One can only hope that over time, more and more people will look beyond their narrow 'viewshed' and act in the interest of everybody, rather than their own parochial interests.

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