- The Washington Times - Friday, March 8, 2002

Well at least the chi is happy now, and the arrows of sha, too.

The good citizens of Sausalito have voted down a brand new police station because its expansive design has sullied the town's feng shui its universal harmony at least according to some ancient Chinese notions about time, space and interior decorating.

The police force for this California waterfront town of 7,500 must stay in their portable trailers for now.

"As a card-carrying Marin County hot tubber, I pay attention to what the voting public says," noted Mayor J.R. Roberts yesterday. "And I guess they know that there are energy flows and forces we can't see out there."

The mayor who answers his own telephone with a simple "This is J.R." is resigned to the fact that the destiny of his 30 public-safety employees does not include the proposed $7.8 million, 22,500-square-foot, Mediterranean-style combined police and fire facility that the town rejected on Tuesday.

"It wasn't just the feng shui thing. There was some other stuff going on," Mr. Roberts said. "Harmony is important in Sausalito."

Harmony notwithstanding, the police were stuck in what department Capt. Jim Hyatt called a "trailer park" since a 1995 flood destroyed their century-old headquarters. The fire department, meanwhile, occupies a seismically unsound structure nearby.

The situation has pitted cop against artiste. Sausalito has long been a quaint haven for those who revel in stucco, relaxing breezes and contented shopping. "Advisory Measure B," which proposed that the big new police building span an entire downtown street, was considered an insult to Sausalito's very village-hood.

Opponents to the building, who have argued their case in 31 public meetings over the past seven years, said the building was too big, too ugly, required a huge tax increase and could compromise the town evacuation route during a terrorist attack or natural disaster.

Worse yet, its bulk would block the positive flow of energy from one spot in the town to the next.

Offended members of the local Citizens for Alternative Public Safety Structures group brought in feng shui expert Sidney Nancy Bennett to testify before the City Council in February.

Feng shui believers feel that the placement of walls, furniture, buildings, driveways and fountains can affect the spiritual environment for better or worse. The proposed design, Miss Bennett told the council, indeed would "cut off the mouth of chi" and compromise "the arrows of sha" of the town.

Which is big doings on the astral plane.

Just to be sure, the group also filed a lawsuit blocking the proposed building, even as Vice Mayor Amy Belser warned that the town might lose its police force altogether. But quaintness and collective karma triumphed, and Sausalito voters rejected the proposal.

"A lot of people saw it as really out of character," said opposition leader John Ferrell, who said his group would be willing to work on new ideas.

"I guess the country can learn from something like this. At least we know what our town wants," Mr. Roberts observed yesterday.

Others are not so diplomatic. One owner of a popular local sushi restaurant said he would prefer to attend to police needs after someone was mugged at gunpoint nearby.

"It's a safety issue," said Yoshi Tome, who hired a feng shui consultant himself when building his eatery. But those who criticized the new construction were "out of their minds," he added.

But Sausalito isn't the only California hamlet to be governed according to feelings. City officials in San Jose also called in feng shui expert Miss Bennett to advise them on the harmonious construction of their new city hall a few years ago.

Not to be outdone, Los Angeles-based feng shui diva Lillian Too independently analyzed the White House in 1999 and declared it to have "auspicious chi." Former President Bill Clinton, she wrote in her treatise, was "a Fire Element Dog … characterized by fantastic luck and stunning yang energy."

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