Preserving El Sobrante's Character

Date: 6/17/03

To: Members of the El Sobrante community

RE: Preservation

My name is Joy Neas. My maiden name is Joy Dibble. I grew up surrounded by El Sobrante. I went to Sheldon School and graduated from De Anza High.

This year I received my Master's Degree in Urban Planning. In addition, I was honored with the Department Service Award. I chose the urban planning field because I thought I would learn about community representation.

Instead, I was told that I was a "conduit" for the Redevelopment Agency. To my amazement, I only heard the word "ethics" in one course. I still wonder who serves the people.

While I was pursuing my degree, I did not realize that redevelopment activities were beginning to affect El Sobrante.

Urban planners and redevelopment staff have the responsibility of working for the community's benefit by listening more and telling less. The community must direct its vision. There is legal precedent for, "maintaining the character of the community." This is best done by restoring historic resources that reflect a sense of place rather than tearing down all that appears to be blighted in order to make room for new development.

A community that allows this to happen risks losing its identity. I urge every resident to care about his neighbors and El Sobrante and to only make suggestions that benefit the community as a whole.