Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spanos development in Town Center


My husband and I attended the Board of Supervisors meeting on Dec. 11. We were there to show our support for the presentation being made by Rural Communities United and the Measure Y Committee. However, before that item reached the floor, we were treated to a “conceptual review” of an AG Spanos proposal for Town Center in El Dorado Hills.

They are proposing to build an upscale four-story apartment building on the four vacant acres adjacent to the “open space” and “pond.” The apartments are intended to attract well-heeled residents seeking a “maintenance-free” lifestyle in an “urban village.”

I have always wondered how you can have a Town Center where there is no actual town. Now I’m wondering how you can have an urban village where there is no city.

Towns and cities grow organically and sometimes messily over decades. Town Center is an artificial construct — a sort of Disneyland version of a town. Now they want to add a population. But as one speaker pointed out, it will be a transient population of renters who will have no real long-term stake in the community. These folks will essentially be living within a shopping mall, adjacent to a car dealership and a freeway. Sound good to you?

This project would be laughable if it did not have the potential to start a shift toward higher-density housing in other parts of the county, and to increase the already congested traffic in that area. There is great irony here. For the last 10 years the county has gone along with developers pushing outsize “mini mansions.” Now AG Spanos is trying to convince us that 570-square-foot apartments are the wave of the future.

So instead of a fungus of McMansions coating the hills, we’ll have towers of teeny, tiny apartments dotting the valleys. Personally I prefer grass on the hills and oaks in the valleys. How about you?

It’s time for the citizens of this county to take charge of the future. I encourage all of you to become informed and get involved, or soon our beautiful county will look like “Anywhere, USA.”

Cameron Park

Letters to the Editor


Discussion | 16 comments

  • !?!?"under new foreign ownership"?!?!December 12, 2013 - 5:45 pm

    As I read the letter -This is exactly how it starts, and what is happening over in the bay area. I was born and raised in Los Altos, & Mountain View Ca. -& The Sunnyvale/Cupertino Ca. area's too. I left over 5 years ago to live here in el dorado hills. I went back to the bay area to visit last summer for a few weeks. I had not visited in almost 5 years. I have been very busy here. I was absolutely shocked as I visited these places I grew up in & did everything in. Open space. Now, not anymore! My favorite shopping centers in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, & parts of the surrounding areas looked like Japan town/China town. I drove around in area's that were once open and welcoming to walk around in & shop in were now covered in multiple apartment unit & condo's. People and families living on top of each other like cardboard houses stacked one on top of each other. The parking lot for shopping centers were now filled with business type condo's and apartments. The shopping center I once went to with my family as a child and worked in as a teenager was gone. It looked so foreign like another place, a foreign place, that was taking over from a very distant land oversea's. All the people I saw everywhere told the story, and gave me the answers I asked over and over as I visited. I went to eat at Chipotle in Palo Alto, and I saw people who had just gotten off work in a rush. A rush to eat. A rush to order. Their eyes blank with nothing on their minds but a drive to work. No smiles. No relaxing. No happiness in their faces. Robots come to mind. Programmed robots. Just a attitude and a drive in so many to go go go! Sadly, No one looked relaxed. I felt out of place. I was a foreigner now. The foreigners were now the majority. I was now feeling like the minority. Even though it used to be a land I once felt comfortable in, my home, my place, I felt comfortable in -I saw and felt it was ALL now "under new ownership." Taken over. I then took my son to a mall in Sunnyvale to look for some clothes, and that too was gone! What!?! More foreign looking multiple apartment/condo houses. That area too was a shock to see. Only a Target store remained. So much torn down. So much gone for the new "under new ownership" people. I said; "You have got to be kidding!" Also, the town, city's, places, surrounding areas were looking shabby, dirty, & unkept too. People were not friendly. Cold stairs. Empty faces. Workaholics. I went into a Walgreens I used to go into growing up. No one was friendly. & For the first time I was told by a cashier very direct and very coldly that I would have to buy my bag for 10 cents to hold my purchases I had just bought at this Walgreens I shopped in almost all my life. My son who is 15, he shook his head, and just picked up the few purchases, no bag, and said to me; let's just go mom! I then went to look for a hotel in Sunnyvale, I once knew. I went in and I was greeted, sort of, and then told, yes, they had a room for me. After 5 minutes I stood there as I even handed over my MasterCard, and then unexpectedly was told "sorry I see now we have nothing for you." I did not understand this new "foreign coldness" towards me. I left quietly not understanding and just shaking my head to this new way of life. Sadly, I saw and knew I was now taken over, and "under a new foreign ownership." I then went with my husband to wash my clothes in Sunnyvale at a laundromat. I started the wash, and then left to go next door to get an item or 2 in the store. I came back to my wash with my husband only to then be screamed at by this woman that told me "I was not allowed to leave! How could you just leave!" She said she wanted to close up, and leave, but I was holding her up from doing so! I looked at her sign on the window that said the launder mat was open for another hour. I stated this calmly. So did my husband. She still yelled at me she had the right close up early. I calmly then was able to talk to her to calm her down enough to ask what the real problem was? We then sat down all of us as my clothes dried. She spilled all to us that she had to close down her Laundromat permanently at the end of the week. Her rent had gone up so much now under new ownership. Yes, I had a hunch, I knew what "under new foreign ownership" meant, and she told us it was too much for her to afford with the rent increase of almost 100%. She did not know how she would afford to feed & take care of her family now. She was losing her business. I used to have a business for many years in Mountain View so I had compassion for her. I understood. I talked her through it, but I knew she too was trying to survive, but she could not go against "under new foreign ownership". She even told us the new owners were not caring, but just wanted the rent rate increase. Her coin machine had already been broken into twice. People are desperate. So yes, change does come but at a price! As My father-n-law from Cupertino Ca. told me over 5 years ago that this place too, like the bay area, would also become just like the bay area, taken over, yes, in time. So, After reading the letter up above I guess by father-n-law was right. At 70 years of age and having much wisdom that comes with age, I guess we all should listen to what is being said here. That is IF everyone does not want to see the new "cold winds" of foreign ownership blowing in, and a new sign hanging up in el dorado hills, and the surrounding area's. A sign that reads for all to see, and all will soon know, "under new foreign ownership". By then it will be too late to turn back. Minority or Majority or just A nobody? Think about it. Do you care?

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  • robertdnollDecember 12, 2013 - 6:12 pm

    Japan town/China town,yes i'm going listen to your opinion

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  • cookie65December 16, 2013 - 7:40 am

    Forgive me for interrupting your pseudo sensitivity but the terms you seem to be intolerant of are not only well known but also world famous. They are not a smear as you imply with your comment based on the intellectual limitations you suffer from under political correctness. "Chinatown" draws more tourists/visitors than the Golden Gate Bridge.

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  • JimBoDecember 12, 2013 - 7:50 pm

    I know that it's a rude awakening for you, but some of us long-time EDC locals look at EDH now the same way you look at Los Altos, Silicon Valley, etc. Gone are the days of the late 50's early 60's when Al Lindsey built a few houses sprinkling the hillsides. Now we have a mini-City of BATS - Bay Area Transplants. I don't even stop in EDH anymore - as I can't take the new superficial culture that has invaded the land - primarily from the Bay Area. A Target, Chilis and who knows what else. A bunch of phony people living in cheap dressed up Stucco houses to look like McMansions.

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  • Jim BeckDecember 17, 2013 - 7:21 am

    Paragraphs, they are your friend.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 12, 2013 - 6:14 pm

    Mary Lou Giles, it seems to me that respecting "NO SAN STINO" encourages the kind of development that you seem to be resisting. If we yield to "keep it rural" then it seems that compact development beats sprawl. Or are you suggesting a cold, hard, complete moratorium on growth?

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  • Ultimate Irony...December 12, 2013 - 9:06 pm

    The ultimate irony is that apartments and high density housing of the type that Mary Lou complains of are EXEMPT from the provisions of Measure Y... something the Measure Y proponents don't want to talk about. Measure Y says that "traffic from single-family residential subdivision of five or more parcels shall not result in or worsen..." Level of Service F. Apartments, condos and other types of multi-family projects aren't "single family residential subdivisions" so they don't trigger the policy. Measure Y exempts higher density housing because state housing law requires that the county provide for a range of housing types, including apartments. Measure Y would not withstand legal challenge if it applied to those state-mandated housing types... So, get used to seeing more of the same... brought to you, courtesy of Measure Y.

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  • Phil_VeerkampDecember 12, 2013 - 9:17 pm

    Ultimate Irony... I'm not sure of the source of my pleasure upon reading your observations, but pleased I am! Measure Y, Bill Center et al the development hypocrites . . . HARRRR!

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  • NonsenseDecember 13, 2013 - 7:45 am

    Ultimate Irony is indeed correct across the board Clearly, the Anti-agenda 21/no growth criers are being used by the slick local Pro-Agenda 21 wonks. The cold hard fact is that the Agenda 21 crowd had about a 16 year jump on the process because they wrote the rules. Core principles were embedded long, long ago into California state law including the more recent updates such as AB32 and SB375. The Measure Y boys still have not provided specific language, speak only from notes, leave nothing tangible behind and that is by design. How can anyone challenge anything that is undocumented? Any challenge is a misunderstand or a misrepresentation. The boys are working emotional responses over facts and building a base of people who would otherwise oppose their ideologies. Anti-Agenda 21 folks are late to the party, partially informed and one dimensional in thinking which are not building blocks for success in this situation. Never drink the koolaid.

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  • Fran DuchampDecember 13, 2013 - 8:09 am

    "Town Center is an artificial construct — a sort of Disneyland version of a town "...or in any city...I come from LA...lived in Beverly Hills, Westwood....they have these ideas already. Nothing new. It is why when I go to amused. "Walkable Communities" is not a new idea...people WAKE UP. . "Walkable Communities" is an Urban Theory...has worked yet.... It is why when I first started on this wall--I said I am not wearing a shirt that has Welcome to Pollock Pines on it...the small group trying to create a tourist town here...need to move to one. then we can all be happy :)

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  • Fran DuchampDecember 13, 2013 - 8:12 am

    "hasn't" worked yet.

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  • SparkyDecember 16, 2013 - 6:50 am

    It is Town Center, so I am confused by the concern. There is a lot of unoccupied office space above the retail units, so housing in some form is an alternative. It is a huge leap from 4 acres of housing within a manufactured main street area to dotting valleys throughout the county. The better question relates to the potential price point of these units. Try being a young single or a couple, working and/or going to school and finding housing alternatives in the $400-$600/month range in El Dorado County without roommate(s). Frankly, these people are not transients, but far more likely to be our local youth, grown up, and not willing to live at home or in Sac or Folsom. The everyone must be "just like us" syndrome is on full display and it is more than a little disturbing.

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  • 1036-FrankDecember 16, 2013 - 8:39 am

    EDH is a now a tale of two towns and an abundant amount of bad planning that allowed building on ridge tops in long lines of huge houses and this is a permanent poorly planned blight and many new arrivals have no idea what used to be EDH or that, for a first in county history, a developer built a new "town" south of the freeway and these out of town developers have bought up land for miles south along Latrobe Road. The mostly residential area to the north of 50 has little to nothing in common with this new Town and the people there are wondering what happened to their town, the real EDH and the one there since the 1960's. The south Town Center, should be named, "Blight from the Bay" and and was brought here by developers as a Bay area style Disneyland to attract far more from the Bay to move here and these developers are just getting warmed up. It is already apparent that every over 5 unit residential project near highway 50 would appear to have violated Measure Y without a doubt by BOS approvals. The current battle for this area, including these high-end proposed apartments which Spanos has built elsewhere in large cities, shouldn't be approved here or zoned into commercial areas in the first place. If these type of proposals are rejected at county planning first where they should be, these developers might learn people are serious about existing zoning and the M-Y law. No-one here, except developers and their cronies, want their stacked and packed urban high density housing plans or any new high density residential anywhere in the county and new leadership, not corrupted by west-end developers, on the BOS is the way to stop it.

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  • EDH TownieDecember 16, 2013 - 11:30 am

    The county needs to focus on jobs, not housing. I've always thought EDH Town Center would have been an ideal live-work community with condos and lofts in the upstairs in some of the buildings. It would have added a liveliness to an area that more or less rolls up the sidewalks at 10pm. Plopping an apartment building in the center of a mall is not live-work. Town Center has become just a somewhat attractive dining-mall with a few shops and a theater on street level and realtors and financials service businesses upstairs. EDH is a great community that is lacking a soul. There is no downtown, no history, and for most, no sense of roots. It is bedroom community for workers heading down the hill to Sac and beyond. The EDH Chamber has done a lackluster job of attracting business and jobs to a half-empty business park. Housing more people who earn and spend their money elsewhere is not a longterm plan for any community. Until jobs are brought to ED County, the only way to grow the tax base will be adding residences and residents. The county needs to focus on jobs, housing will follow.

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  • Fran DuchampDecember 16, 2013 - 12:05 pm

    Come to the BOS meeting tomorrow--Pollock Pines has been working for yrs to remove the Urban was even voted to do so--went to letter to do one signed the letter. It was brought up again...several supervisors said it should have already been done...Nutting was one of the original promoters. We are talking yrs...there is a process--it went through the process...brought before the board--voted to remove by the board--letter of intention by the board...come on...we dont even have sewer up here in Pollock Pines There is no money. Pollock Pines is not capable for paying sewer fees, CSD fees...any fees. They just supported the schools--we are tapped out. The choice to kill the mill--killed our economy. We are not a gateway...Meyers is. we are a small place that is not economically prepared for what some call a "walkable " community....which has nothing to do with walking down the street--in an old fashioned manner--it is a Urban theory already being used (for years) in cities. Mary made a great observation, "I have always wondered how you can have a Town Center where there is no actual town. Now I’m wondering how you can have an urban village where there is no city." Walkable Communities is a URBAN theory....beware. This idea is being promoted up and down the hill...go to the meeting. Listen. Decide.

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  • residentDecember 16, 2013 - 4:48 pm

    Good lord you people are pathetic. I like car dealerships, shopping malls and restaurants. We don't have enough! And people need affordable housing. NIMBY's!!!!

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