Some decisions are too important to be left to staff.

The fate of Ocean Beach is one of those, as the waffling briefing memo on Ocean Beach, prepared for Thursday’s Council meeting, amply demonstrates.

For all practical purposes, HDC staff says to Councillors:

Prepare to lose in the RMA process if you simply reject the Hill Country Plan Change outright. And how do you avoid losing? Signal that your “fall-back” position remains your earlier Council position that would permit many hundreds of houses and related infrastructure to be built in the most sensitive areas of Ocean Beach. Prepare to negotiate.

I suspect that most Hastings Councillors do not see their role — as their staff does — to be guessing at the disposition of independent commissioners. They do not see their role as preparing to split the difference with Hill Country.

Instead, most Councillors see their responsibility as taking clear ownership of the future of Ocean Beach by voicing plainly their unequivocal rejection of the Plan Change.

No bureaucratic double-speak — no”maybe’s” … no “what if’s” … no “on the other hand’s” … no “what we really mean is.”

Why would Councillors just say NO?

Because they are elected to ensure that the values the community at large holds dear — not the gains of a handful — are what drive fateful decisions like the one before us on Ocean Beach.

And the community has spoken loud and clear in the past several weeks, saying very emphatically: Ocean Beach is special … don’t spoil it … leave it alone.

I’ll go out on a limb here … Leaders listen. I think most of our Councillors are listening on Ocean Beach.

HDC staff might think the community would be fooled by the headline: “We reject the plan change” … then in the fine print to the independent commissioners: “But we really didn’t mean that.”

But the public won’t be fooled … and neither will the Councillors.

See for yourself. Go to the Thursday 2pm Hastings Council meeting!

Tom

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