FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 27, 2009
LOCAL RESIDENTS ASK: WHY WAS THIS PRIVATE PARAMILITARY FIRM APPROVED BY THE RIVERSIDE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS?
Protest Planned Against Procinctu Plans to Build Private Military Training Center on Tuesday, January 27 Residents Hopes to Halt Construction of "The Ranch" Inspired by Successful Battle Against Blackwater's Plans in San Diego County
WHERE: Outside the Riverside County Administrative Center, at 4080 Lemon Street, Riverside CA
WHEN: 8:30 to 9:30 AM, Tuesday January 27, 2009
Protest outside Riverside County Administrative Center
11:00 a.m: Protesters will move inside to express concerns to Riverside County Board of Supervisors general meeting during Oral Communication
RIVERSIDE, CA (Jan 27, 2009) -- Procinctu means "gird for battle – prepare for war." The protest is against a "privately owned police, military, and governmental agency tactical training center…" (1). Protesters claim the project does not meet the criteria for a Public Use Permit (PUP), or other laws. However, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved it in January 2008, bypassing normal processing. Construction could start soon.
Dubbed "The Ranch," it is located in Homeland, CA on private land owned by John Choate, president of Procinctu, and former NAVY Seal. Calling it a "public institution," noise ordinances were waived and it was granted a Public Use Permit even though it is a private business for profit and will be situated next to an established church retreat in a residential agricultural area that the developers say will be perfect for training because it looks "like Afghanistan."
The zoning is for educational institutions, government uses, hospitals, homes for the young and elderly. (2).
"The zoning itself does not allow a private paramilitary training center, and the zoning was not changed," said Ann Weston of Menifee near the site of the project. "The project absolutely does not belong in this quiet rural and residential setting, within earshot of an elementary school. These homeowners never expected to live next to warfare training facility, and it violates their property rights. We must stop it."
A letter found in the public records, dated 3-08-07 is regarding a Fast-Track application. It is from Supervisor Marion Ashley to the Board: saying that the Planning Department upon further review "deemed that a Public Use Permit was the most appropriate land use for this development project." It continues, "The PUP…is not eligible to receive Fast Track Authorization under the current Fast Track Policy Guidelines. Therefore, in order to assist the applicant in expediting the land use and permit process approval, I am recommending that Fast Track status be granted to this project." (3)
Also found in the public records were PROPRIETARY PAPERS titled "Naval Special Warfare Group One," a technical proposal (June 30,2006). In the report, three instructors are from Blackwater USA, "the world's most powerful mercenary army"(4). This indicates that Procinctu's goals are the same. One instructor's specialty is "prisoner-handling."
"There's no guarantee they won't quickly cash-out to Blackwater," Raymond Lutz said, organizer of the successful battle against Blackwater in Potrero, San Diego County. "Riverside should beware: with San Diego no longer accepting Blackwater mercenary training, going to the next county is what they did in North Carolina where their 7,000 acre headquarters runs dozens of shooting ranges daily until 10pm. Homeland is no place for warfare training."
The Procinctu Group infers that they are a governmental "public" agency, but they are a privately held corporation with no opportunity for the public to oversee their operation. Their proposal says they will have "outdoor live fire" shooting five times a year, one hour each; however "outdoor live fire" (5) is not mentioned in the project description. Noise Ordinance 847, written by the supervisors, should disallow such a facility. However, Riverside supervisors made the audacious move and exempted Procinctu, saying they are a governmental agency. Just because a business contracts with the government from time to time does not mean it is "the government."
For safety, there is no cement wall around the 193 acre site, and there is access to the property on the east mountains for curious children. A private swimming pool in the backyard of any homeowner has more restrictions that this warfare training area.
Since they are a private military company, there is no public oversight or transparency. Besides "The Conditions do not require revisiting the permit, shy of the permit life of 20 years."(6) If it were the US Military, public oversight and transparency would be required.