In a story that I once heard, a new joint chief of staff was appointed to lead our military. There was a reception following the swearing in ceremony that was well attended. After the event the new chief of staff met in a small room with the surviving, retired chiefs of staff. The new chief said, “This is an elite club, isn’t it?”  To which the eldest retired chief replied, “Yes, and you’re the junior member.”


This is how my first turn on the dais started. With this story and the realization that I am the junior member. My first meeting was a training session. Apropos. The learning curve on this one is more like a ships ladder, nearly vertical, with a thousand little steps to the top. None of which can be missed and each one a potential slip hazard should I fail to thoughtfully or completely upon it.  I often joked how I would start a new profession in the middle, never at the start where everyone else did. But even with over 40 years in the business world, the past, almost, 20 years in construction, it is impossible for me to start this new challenge anywhere but at the beginning.


California law authorizes local municipalities to from local Planning Commissions to determine land use for their area. With the help of an expertly trained staff, I now sit on what is referred to as a quasi-judicial panel. Quasi-judicial, what a unique term. Even among experts there can be found some hesitation at a solid definition of what that means. Here is the crux of it as I understand it.  The developer works with the City Planning Staff to ensure that their development idea checks all the right boxes with regards to the City’s General Plan, the Master Development Plan and even the local Special District Plan. This reviewed package is then sent to the Planning Commission for Approval, Amended Approval or Denial.


Here is where the quasi-judicial comes in. You, you outspoken member of the public, get an opportunity to speak publicly for or against the proposed development. We, the Planning Commissioners, listen to your thoughts and comments and consider them carefully. I promise you this, your comments are taken seriously and are weighed by each commissioner during the following debate.  It is only after your comments do we commissioners consider approval, amendment or denial.


So here is the thing. YOU, most definitely, have a say in how we neighbors use our land. Even though many things are prescribed by law, YOU have the ability to affect change if you have strong feelings about a project. Listen, please, do me a favor. While I appreciated the expertise that went into the training session at the last meeting, I was itching for my first real challenge.

My mother once told me, Smooth seas do not a skillful sailor make.

I wish to be a good Planning Commissioner, but I need your help. Please take time, at least, to sign up to receive notifications from the City of Vallejo. The link is below. Take a moment to read through the agenda items for those commissions that interest you, and at least, spend a small amount of time listening to and perhaps speaking about, topics that will affect the lives of you, your family and your neighbors.


This is our City. I am doing my part. Will you help me please?


Please don’t forget to stop in my website http://www.the-v-town-social-club.com and follow my Facebook page The V-Town Social Club


Until next time,


Tommy Judt




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