Monday, April 21, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Must deny, if does not comply, with Measure Y?

EDITOR:

This is an open letter to the Board of Supervisors and El Dorado County Counsel:

As you know, Oct. 22 is the BOS hearing date for the Wilson Project, a request to rezone 28 acres from RA1 to RA, in order to build 49 homes in an otherwise rural community. This is just the first of several major projects queued up for approval, that if approved will radically transfigure the rural communities they would be carved out of; leaving forever scars, like facelifts gone wildly wrong.

The purpose of this note is simply to request that you and by your direction, the El Dorado County Counsel, publicly answer without equivocation, or prevarication the following question, before the Oct. 22 hearing (time will be needed for clarification, discussion, by all sides):

“Can the Wilson Project be approved by the Board of Supervisors when Measure Y and the General Plan by law stipulate that no new development project, like the Wilson Project, can be approved when county highways or roads are designated LOS F?” (Fact: both county staff, Caltrans and community advocacy groups all agree that segments of Highway 50 as well as key intersections surrounding the proposed development are now, today, at LOS F, without adding even one more home.)

Seems that this is the acid test for whether or not the county is governed by publicly supported laws. Or not. And if not, then the public needs to know why not. It’s not just the issues of land use that hang in the balance; the public’s full faith and trust in county governance is also at play.

If Measure Y and it’s implementation vis-a-vis the General Plan do not have compelling legal weight in the case of the Wilson Project, we simply need to know why. Sooner than later. I will readily concede that I may be quite naive in this case; and will defer to county counsel for the explanation.

But we need to know now; and we need a public discussion about the merits and applicability of Measure Y as applied to the Wilson Project before the Oct. 22 hearing.

Perhaps county counsel can respond to this e-mail, with copies to the Mountain Democrat as well as the various community groups now supporting Rural Communities United.

Seems like the answer is either, “No, Measure Y does not apply.” Or, “Yes, it does.” Either way, county counsel and the BOS need to explain their positions, before voting on the Wilson Project.

Now? Now.

Thanks for listening.

BILL WELTY
El Dorado Hills

Letters to the Editor

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Discussion | 28 comments

  • JimBoOctober 14, 2013 - 8:04 pm

    Your County now has a County Development CZAR who will decide based upon her infinite knowledge of the situation and draw on her years of experience being a Military Policewoman. Your County Government is a Joke!

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  • EllenOctober 15, 2013 - 6:46 pm

    Nicely said, Bill! Our county staff is certainly having a hard time facing the reality of the fact that we are a rural county and wish to stay that way. Measure Y was the mandate (twice!) and staff is going to have to get on board and deal with it.

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  • Mary Lou GilesOctober 15, 2013 - 8:54 pm

    I absolutely agree with Bill Welty. The voters of this county have clearly demonstrated their wishes--twice--regarding development. Measure Y is the law; it must be followed when considering this current wave of rezoning requests and development proposals. We're facing a new assault on the landscape and lifestyle of this county, It's the duty of county government to stand firm and uphold the law..

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  • 1036-FrankOctober 16, 2013 - 9:24 am

    This question is the first one that should be answered at county planning for any and all of these proposed high-density rezones with any added traffic impacts if the county is to enforce the General Plan. The question has to be answered before any development plan is considered if the answer is it violates Measure Y the plan should be stamped and sent back. This should be what planning does in a functional process. If Measure Y is enforced then simply, any added traffic impacts will deny these rezones. The problem is the BOS has a very poor history of not wanting to follow Measure Y due to influence peddling, campaign coffers being stuffed and by the willing takers padding their own pockets and looking for someone to pay for their campaigns. Developers want approvals and I am sure have their attorneys trying to find a way usually by hiring their own "experts." They want their rows and rows of stucco homes everywhere regardless. The neighborhood groups formed to oppose these threats are becoming a force of their own and smart to draw a line and not allow any more rezones to go forward at the same time protecting their property values and way of life, also the safety of the rural roads these developers want to dump thousands of cars on.

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  • WhattheheckOctober 16, 2013 - 12:20 pm

    BW thank you for your letter. Unfortunately the MD doesn't give one any info and the only way people in this county get info is from letters like yours. We have stopped the development in Shingle Springs called Tilden Park by having to hire our own attorney to enlighten EDC of the laws that they were about to break and making them aware that we would not stand by and let them get away with it. It is a sad commentary in this county that home owners have to hire attorneys to defend their property values and rights. Keep up the good fight and don't give up.

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  • Phil VeerkampOctober 16, 2013 - 12:35 pm

    Whattheheck, time will tell whether your "victory" sustains its sweetness on into the future. If your "victory" can be reproduced with San Stino, Marble Valley and Parker/Bone developments then my dollar is bet on future sadness over the cost of insufficient growth to finance escalating cost of services. They WILL go up, you know. EVEN WITHOUT DEVELOPMENT EID customers need a third transmission line to Diamond Springs, "tilden", Cameron Park and EDH.

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  • BillOctober 16, 2013 - 6:02 pm

    "Future sadness over the cost of insufficient growth to finance escalating cost of services": this would be a good place to start a real discussion on assessing proposed developments. What is the level of growth, not in terms of units, but in county revenue, needed to avoid bankrupting the county in future years? Perhaps, levels of revenue could be modelled to set necessary levels of development. Create a new project assessment category: BIM, budget impact mitigation. Separating the impact of the developments on costs, versus impacts on protecting the county's bottomline in future years. Approving developments without a way to measure "the sadness" without them only leverages "hope" as a benefit. Can we get real numbers to make viable projections?

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  • Phil VeerkampOctober 16, 2013 - 7:06 pm

    Yes, Bill. It is Possible. EID is doing it. ~~~ LINK - Hookup fees to rise

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  • Kirk MacKenzieOctober 16, 2013 - 6:19 pm

    EID's incompetence -- stretching existing infrastructure beyond their intended capacity -- is not a good argument for destruction of our quality of life by building huge new high density developments.

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  • Phil VeerkampOctober 16, 2013 - 7:33 pm

    For the sake of argument stipulate "incompetence". It would therefore be compounding incompetence to not correct the damage incurred by "stretching existing infrastructure beyond their intended capacity.

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  • BillOctober 16, 2013 - 9:04 pm

    We're between "covering past mistakes" and "build it and they'll come, without serious regard for life style impacts". Measure Y is about ensuring we don't redux past mistakes; until we're better postured to avoid them. Controlled growth is not a bad thing. Some say it's the responsible thing. Measure Y simply underscores the responsible thing. Rushing to approve Wilson, San Stino, Dixon, Marble Valley, etc. violates the spirit and letter of Measure Y and the General Plan. And unless the county counsel can opine otherwise, with judicial authority, it's also illegal. Like the BOS running a stop sign. The question raised is a valid one: how much development is needed to cover the county's current and forecasted costs; costs to grow responsibly, yet preserve the treasured rural quality of life the county offers? A good discussion, albeit simplistic (some would say), to have BEFORE approving upcoming developments.

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  • Phil VeerkampOctober 16, 2013 - 9:12 pm

    Bill, I suspect that the developers can live with slow growth. What they can't live with is "Lucy grabbing the football every time Charlie Brown tries to kick. "

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  • BillOctober 16, 2013 - 9:37 pm

    Right. It's when the developments want to change the rules that I become concerned: asking for changes in zoning, for example, to increase number of units beyond what's allowed by GP, by law, as agreed. Keep Wilson at RA1. One unit per acre. No problem. Responsible growth. Hey, we agree!

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  • EvelynOctober 17, 2013 - 5:10 am

    " . . . unless the county counsel can opine otherwise, with judicial authority . . . " County Counsel seems to "opine" pretty much whatever BOS wants. He doesn't seem to have an independent "opine". ********** Great comment, Bill.

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  • the real infoOctober 17, 2013 - 10:30 am

    As long as you have developers contributing to EID candidates, the candidates will owe the developers payback when they are elected.... Simple as that.

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  • Phil VeerkampOctober 17, 2013 - 2:26 pm

    They will owe the developers at the risk of what for not kneeling before their benefactors? . . . at a risk of losing what? . . . oh yes . . . the huge board salary of . . . uh . . . what is it? . . . somewhere around $1200 a month? . . . sure . . . or are you suggesting that "the developers" have "Guido" on retainer? ~~~ the real info, your model is trite, worn out, simplistic and lazy. "The developers" see Prada as poison, as Board dysfunction and as Fifty Shades of Fool

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  • BillOctober 17, 2013 - 4:58 pm

    Right. Let's change the tenor of this thread to one of advocacy for more development. How would that argument go? How about this: Measure Y is the bane of county progress and economic development (if ever applied..). There should be no limit to the number of homes built, no limitations on the number of trips spawned. As Don Larsen used to declare, "Baby, let the good times roll!" If it's true, " (my) model is trite, worn out, simplistic and lazy", then what is the model to be followed? GP? Then don't change existing zoning for expanded development. The BOS should advocate for a model.... then have a public discussion. If it's the GP, the Wilson Project must be denied as proposed.

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  • Phil VeerkampOctober 17, 2013 - 6:31 pm

    No, Bill. I was rejecting the premise that says the one and only motive behind a developer contribution was to "buy" an EID Board. In this case I suggest that the PAC money is proactive toward preventing EID Board dysfunction as happened during the Vargas, Kastan, Bergmeister years. EID rate payers are still paying for that rate cut party. The premise of developer PAC money equaling uncontrolled growth is " trite, worn out, simplistic and lazy" . Developers want FUNCTIONING,CONCISTENT governing bodies. Prada is a dishonest erratic, unstable goof ball. Prada is Fifty Shades of Fool".

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  • Phil VeerkampOctober 17, 2013 - 6:35 pm

    Bill, the commenter, the real info led the discussion away from Proposition Y planning and onto the EID Board election. These are two separate topics. I'm guilty of discussing EID as opposed to "Y". - different animal

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  • Chuck WolfeOctober 18, 2013 - 1:06 pm

    There seems to be a misconception that new growth reduces costs of services, when experience and studies indicate the reverse to be true. "Growth increases service call volume at a faster rate than the population grows. With rare exception, new development does not generate enough revenue to offset additional services required." Calaveras Sheriff's Staffing Study http://myvalleysprings.com/publicsafety.html. There are many studies that look at the ratio of cost of services to revenue income, based on areas of zoning comparing agriculture, commercial, industrial and residential. Most of them reflect that for every dollar of revenue from residential $1.20 or more is spent on cost of services. One such study can be found at http://www.farmland.org/programs/states/documents/delmarvaCOCSWicomico1-13-03.pdf These studies show that commercial is the best investment for revenue return, but once you consider that new residential rooftops are required to support commercial rooftops, that hypothesis falls down. For a good discussion by planners that explains and connects many concepts and mis-concepts, go to. http://video.valleypbs.org/video/1527046760/ The question people of this county need to ask themselves is, do you want to pay more for services in order to have more neighbors, more congestion and less of what many of us moved here for? Maybe you are here for other reasons but I came here for open space, rural atmosphere, privacy, recreation opportunities, and a small historical town in which to live and base my business.

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  • Phil VeerkampOctober 21, 2013 - 1:20 pm

    Chuck, given that El Dorado Hills, Cameron Park, Shingle Springs, Greenstone Country, Camino Heights . . . . . et al represent 1000%(just guessing here) growth in my lifetime then how do your studies explain our "relative" financial viability today? Perhaps there were fewer lowyers?

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  • billOctober 21, 2013 - 1:28 pm

    Phil, Chucke, Does anyone have any data one way or another? There are theories, but results? Did Calaveras study have data? My guess is the county doesn't know if it wins or loses per house built. An investment banker would; we would. But there are no data published with any development illustrating whether the county wins or loses. Right?

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  • Chuck WolfeOctober 21, 2013 - 8:17 pm

    Bill, Yes the studies that I have looked at do have data but I think it would be interesting to know how these ratios apply in El Dorado County. That can only be the case if a local study is done which is not likely. The sales tax leakage study projects a sales tax increase if big box stores were built locally but does not acknowledge the increased cost of services.

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  • Chuck WolfeOctober 21, 2013 - 8:22 pm

    Phil, Have you looked at the cost of a building permit lately?

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  • EllenOctober 21, 2013 - 7:01 am

    This thread did get sidetracked didn't it? Just in case anyone comes back looking at it, let's redirect!...Measure Y can only help retain the intended rural nature of our county if it is followed and not ignored. I really want our Board of Supervisors to see this, and not play the political game, but simply abide by our policies & laws.

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  • Phil VeerkampOctober 21, 2013 - 1:00 pm

    Ellen asserts, "Measure Y can only help retain the intended rural nature of our county . . . Intended? Ellen, please flesh out the origin and history of this "intention". I'm particularly interested because if you can soundly establish this "intention" then I can initiate the process of evicting the 90% of the flatlanders who have moved here over the last fifty years. Return El Dorado County to its intended rural quality. Leave Cameron Park. Leave El Dorado Hills. Leave Shingle, Greenstone, Camino Heights . . . Give me back "my rural". Intended. Really!

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  • Chuck WolfeOctober 30, 2013 - 6:30 am

    Phil, The county general plan clearly states the intent to preserve the rural nature of the county.

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  • Phil VeerkampOctober 21, 2013 - 1:31 pm

    I don't know, Bill.

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