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SLAPP suit filed byDeveloper Joe Shekou on Gallinas Creek Activists

by brightpathvideo
Developer Joe Shekou recently filed a frivolous lawsuit aka SLAPP suit against Gallinas Creek activists.
The activists have been effective and vocal in stalling attempts by the developer to build a 3 acre indoor soccer complex on endangered wildlife habitat in Marin County
please visit our site and follow the links for more of the story. reprinted here ia an article that appeared in today's MarinIJ:

Here is the recap from the Marin Independent Journal. Text follows,
use link below to see picture.

Soccer complex fight grows
Tad Whitaker

More than 35 San Rafael residents blasted the City Council on Monday
night for a perceived cozy relationship with the developer of a
proposed indoor soccer complex, then presented an apparent e-mail from
former city manager Rod Gould expressing both his support and the City
Council's for the project close to a year ago.

Many of the demonstrators wore Mardi Gras masks, bandanas and even a
pair Groucho Marx-style glasses during the unannounced protest during
open time for fear of being added to a recent lawsuit filed by
developer San Rafael Airport LLC, which is owned by Joe Shekou,
against two Santa Venetia critics. Three police officers showed up to
monitor the crowd, and at one point Mayor Al Boro yelled angrily at a
man for speaking with a mask on.

"We haven't heard from them (the council), so we don't know where they
stand," said Robert Dobrin, one of the two people named in the lawsuit.

After listening to one protester read the purported e-mail exchange
between Gould and airport spokesman Bob Herbst, Councilman Paul Cohen
said he was concerned to hear the former city manager apparently
express support for the project and speak for the entire council. He
said it did not instill confidence in a public process.

"It was an error of judgment on Mr. Gould's part," Cohen said.

The authenticity of the e-mail could not be confirmed late Monday
night. But Gould, reached by telephone in Poway, where he is city
manager, said:

"That was my view at the time, and I still think it's a good project.
I'm no longer a player in San Rafael politics."

Attorney Neil Moran, who represents San Rafael Airport LLC, would not
discuss the protest when reached Monday night. But, reading from a
prepared statement, he said the lawsuit targets only two people for
alleged trespassing and aims to prevent them and any others from
bypassing airport security.

"The San Rafael Airport has an obligation to the Federal Aviation
Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the airport's
pilots to take responsible measures to secure the aviation facility
against illegal trespass," Moran read.

San Rafael Airport LLC wants to build a $6 million, 86,000-square-foot
project on land between the San Rafael Airport and McInnis Park golf

The 35-foot-tall building along Gallinas Creek would include two
soccer fields, a baseball and gymnastics training compound, a
mezzanine with a kitchen, a cafe that sells wine and beer, locker
rooms and offices. There would be two outdoor sports

However, many surrounding residents from Contempo Marin, Captain's
Cove and Santa Venetia have fought the project from the get go,
claiming it is too close to sensitive wetlands, too large, a threat to
endangered species and an breach of an agreement reached years ago
they claim prevents major development on the site.

Following months of complaints by surrounding residents, San Rafael
Airport LLC filed a lawsuit in Marin County Superior Court April 21
against Dobrin and Frances Nunez, claiming their boat docks illegally
encroach on airport property and that Dobrin trespassed on airport
property to take photos of the site.

Part of the suit aims to tear down boat docks owned by Dobrin and
Nunez, although they are not the only residents living on Vendola
Drive with boat docks that are on airport property.

At Monday's meeting, many of the protesters held signs that said such
things as "Speak Up Get Sued" and "City Council Wake Up & Smell The
SLAPP Suit," a reference to a type of lawsuit filed against
individuals to prevent them from speaking out against a particular issue.

Citing the e-mail from Gould, organizer Mary Feller said the city
appears to favor developers more than residents. She said the lawsuit
made the situation worse because now everyone is worried about being
sued for speaking out against the proposed project.

"This is Marin, not Stalinist Russia," she said.

Mayor Al Boro told Feller to stop speaking because her time was up,
although she continued to do so. When a man in the back wearing a
black ski mask said Fuller could have his allotted time, Boro slammed
his gavel down several times.

"Take your mask off if you want to address me," Boro yelled.

Boro defended the council by saying it has not made up its mind about
the project. The project remains under consideration at the Planning

"This council has never addressed this project," he said.
§quicktime movie from the protest of last night.
by brightpathvideo
Copy the code below to embed this movie into a web page:
§Protect Gallinas Creek
by from
Environmentalists and nearby residents are expressing concern over the implications that such a massive complex will mean for the community and wildlife. The wetlands of Gallinas Creek are home to the endangered clapper rail and marsh mouse. The proposed 2.5 acre sports complex sits in the middle of this habitat and is in the pathway of a variety of local and migratory birds, river otters and a wide range of nature enthusiasts. Shekou has a track record of antipathy towards environmental concerns in this area [see: article by Shekou ] The increased traffic, huge paved parking lot, along with the need to build a large new bridge over the sensitive creek are more than the area can endure. At a recent San Rafael Design Review Board meeting, soccer complex proponents attempted to portray their stadium as vital for our kids. They imported a sizable contingent of soccer moms and coaches to lobby the city on their behalf. The Shekou airport location was presented as the only site available. We believe that there is a better place for this. One of the project's architects remarked that nearby buildings were of the same or similar size, yet none of these buildings is perched so ominously close to this important wildlife habitat.
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by wetlands as buffer zone
This about floodproofing found at the Gallinas Creek website rebuttal;

"Wet and dry floodproofing are merely different mitigations for different applications. And dry floodprooing is not more stringent than wet floodproofing. Further, since Wet floodproofing was not an appropriate mitigation for this project, this is the first exposure the public has had to a mitigation measure for building below the base flood elevation. Therefore, the public and other interested parties have not had the required 30 days to comment on all mitigations."

Ever since Arnold fired all members (too concerned with safety?) of the flood control board the developers have had a field day getting unsafe developments approved in wetlands habitat. Guess people need to learn the lessons of Katrina out here on the West Coast before the idea of "Don't develop in the delta" becomes realistic..

Developers and short sighted politicians cannot see beyond this years profits. Investing the time, energy and resources in a project that will most likely become another casualty of seismic induced flooding hurts taxpaying residents and the ecosystem the most. Developers and politicians take their cut early on and leave town before the next major flooding event. Increased development in wetlands habitat prevents the water from spilling out, thus worsening flood conditions when levees break. Loss of wetlands from development was partly responsible for the severity of the Katrina disaster. Environmentalists have warned Louisiana politicians for years that development in the outlying floodplain of the Mississippi wetlands would cause harm in the event of a severe hurricane..

Not only are wetlands a home for engandered species and biodiversity, they are also sponge-like buffer zone from seasonal flooding. Plants trap sediments and absorb the excess water in soil pore space, this buffering capacity cannot be performed by impermeable concrete and astroturf sod..

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me..
Visit for similar issues and a developer SLAPP suit here.
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