Hill rationalizes verbal assault on Thoma
December 21, 2012
(EDITOR’S NOTE: On Friday, Adam Hill distributed an email apologizing for his attack on Bill Thoma, promising to be more civil in the future in his dealings with the public. That was preceded by CalCoastNews’ publication of this rambling self-justification of his earlier actions. See Hill’s comments in “Opinion.”)
County Supervisor Adam Hill issued a lengthy and impassioned apologia Thursday defending his vitriolic attack a day earlier on local business owner Bill Thoma amidst a dispute about location of a proposed homeless facility.
Responding to a flood of criticism following publication of his churlish commentary to Thoma, the District Three supervisor sent an email to himself, apparently to conceal the identity of his intended recipient.
Hill titled the email “Some salient facts regarding the proposed Homeless Services Center,” and noted, “This is all I have to say at this point on the clash with Bill Thoma. Very sorry to have created any anxiety for you.”
Thoma is out of town and unavailable for comment.
Hill’s email is reprinted here verbatim:
“A committee made up of city and county staff and homeless service providers evaluated a series of city and county owned properties for a new center because the Maxine Lewis Shelter is a dilapidated modular building that can’t properly meet the needs of homeless care and services.
“This committee spent nearly two years (2007-2009) in this process before contacting me about the county owned site on South Higuera next to our Department of Social Services.. I agreed then (May 2009) to speak with county administration and General Services about the availability of the property. Once it was determined it could be used for this important
public need, and once my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors agreed to have the property used for this, I joined a larger committee focused on planning for and entitling the property.
“As you know, in both processes, other sites and buildings were considered and evaluated. The county site on S. Higuera was deemed best and most practical each time (I had no role in these evaluations, just as I had no role in selecting the property to begin with).
“As you know, finding a location for a new homeless center is perhaps the most difficult land use related task. It is understood that a center focused on self-sufficiency services must be centrally located, but at the same time it is optimal for it to be located with the minimal amount of residential and retail areas surrounding it.
“Once we began work to plan for the property on South Higuera, we decided to publicize it as best we could so that we could receive feedback and gauge the issues of opposition. (Local media) reported on the plans and efforts, including the approvals at the Airport Land Use Commission and the city’s Planning Commission. Both TV stations also covered it extensively.
“Bill Thoma was opposed to the site, he registered that opposition at both public hearings and with the CAPSLO. It was promised and also conditioned that he would be involved/informed as efforts moved forward.
“For 16 months after the last public hearing, CAPSLO organized a capital campaign and began pursuing a quiet period fundraising campaign. For a host of reasons, including renewed and broader opposition led by Bill Thoma, it was agreed that the public capital campaign should be delayed, better outreach efforts deployed, and revisions on design, policies, and practices should be pursued.
“There were several outreach meetings, meetings with committees of the SLO Chamber, and efforts to include more people from the business community in the newly constituted planning process. Along with others from the SLO Chamber, Bill Thoma was included on a committee of leaders from the city, county, and CAPSLO.
“At no time did Bill Thoma express that he would always and forever be opposed to the South Higuera site. When he was told that we would make substantial changes to policies, procedures, and design, he was pleased, and when drafts of the documents were presented for input, Bill provided us with substantial feedback and suggestions.
“At the same time, Bill Thoma strongly encouraged that 40 Prado Rd be considered as an alternative. This site had been evaluated previously by city staff and some engineers from Cannon. It was determined that it had a variety of challenges hat would substantially add to the cost of development. Still, CAPSLO gathered more information. While Bill Thoma continued to insist that this site was better than the free, entitled one on South Higuera, it was explained to him that it made no sense to keep pursuing a property that would cost at least $2 million to acquire, would cost perhaps another $1 million to prepare for development, and was not zoned for a homeless shelter. CAPSLO simply does not have the money to acquire this site. Nor does the city or county have the funds to purchase this site. (Cannon provided a proposal to assess the development feasibility of the site at a cost of $80,000 for the study.)
“Despite the reality of the situation, Bill Thoma decided to re-launch his opposition campaign among the businesses in the area, circulating a flyer that is highly misleading in its claims. Bill did not tell anyone in the HSC effort, who he was putatively working with, that he would do this, and that he would do it during Christmas week.
“The holiday season is when CAPSLO’s homeless services receives nearly 50 percent of its operating funds in donations.
“While it is regrettable that the focus has come down to a personal clash between Bill and me, I believe that despite the sincere and substantial efforts made to include Bill in the efforts to better plan for the HSC and to better address the associated problems with homelessness in our community, including the business park, at no time was Bill acting in good faith. It now appears that including him only further empowered him in his opposition.” Adam Hill
(Updated Dec. 22 to incorporate mention of Hill’s apology.)