Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Four initiatives aim to halt development

From page A1 | February 21, 2014 | 28 Comments

COLLECTING SIGNATURES - Joyce Wilson, of Cameron Park, left, assists Betty Conaty, of Sommerset, center, as she signs two petitions for the "Fix Highway 50 Traffic First and Keep us Rural initiatives as signature collection volunteer, Gary Miller, of Cameron Park looks on at Safeway in Placerville on Feb. 10. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

It’s getting to the point that voters may need a scorecard to keep track of all the initiatives planned for the November ballot.

As of Feb. 5, the El Dorado County Elections Department said four different ones had been filed with them.

The earliest initiative, one called “Fix Highway 50 Traffic First/Keep Us Rural” was filed on Jan. 14. It would require that two policies be added to the General Plan. The first to prohibit the county from approving any single-family housing subdivisions of five or more parcels once traffic on Highway 50 reaches gridlock (Level of Service F – LOS F).  The second policy would prohibit the county from changing land-use designations already in effect or from raising the density on property already designated residential. The policy would not affect the cities of South Lake Tahoe and Placerville or the unincorporated area controlled by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

On Jan. 23, a second initiative titled “Protect Rural Communities — Fix Community Region Line Flaws” was filed. It would amend the 2004 General Plan and change the Community Region designations for the communities of Pollock Pines, Camino, Cedar Grove, Shingle Springs and the Green Valley Road corridor area of El Dorado Hills and Cameron Park.

Advocates of the measure maintain that the “Community Region” classification encourages future General Plan amendments and development of “high-intensity compact urban and suburban-type development” along the Highway 50 corridor, regardless of compatibility with existing community character or underlying land-use designations for medium or low-density residential use. The initiative also states that the Community Region classification of communities along Highway 50 is a formula for “a continuous wall of sprawl endemic to most urban areas in California. It is not consistent with the individualized rural communities that El Dorado County residents treasure.”

On Jan 24, yet another initiative was filed titled “Reinstate Measure Y’s Original Intent — No More Paper Roads.” This initiative seeks to renew a measure that was originally put in place in 1998 when voters enacted the “Control Traffic Congestion Initiative” (Measure Y), which added five policies to the 1996 General Plan. The policies prohibited residential development projects of five or more units that worsened traffic congestion during peak hours; prohibited adding roads that operate at LOS F without voter approval; required developers to pay fees to mitigate traffic impacts of new development; and prohibited county tax revenues from being used to mitigate such impacts without voter approval.

With the measure due to expire, in 2008 the Board of Supervisors put Measure Y on the ballot for renewal with certain modifications including giving the board the right to override LOS F on a 4-to-5 vote. Backers of the new initiative say the county was also using taxpayer funds to facilitate developer-favored projects.

The new initiative, if passed, would amend the 2004 General Plan and would prohibit development projects of five or more units that created or worsened traffic to LOS F during peak hours on any highway, road interchange or intersection. The county would also be prohibited from adding any additional segments of U.S. Highway 50 or any other highways or roads to the county’s list of roads that would be allowed to operate at LOS F without first getting the voters’ approval. All road improvements associated with new developments that would cause LOS F during peak hours would have to be completed before any form of discretionary approval could be given.

County tax revenues could not be used in any way to pay for building road capacity improvements to offset traffic impacts from new development projects. However non-county tax sources could be used to fund road projects if voters first gave their approval.  The county would be prohibited from creating an Infrastructure Financing District unless two-thirds of the voters in that district approved it. Mitigation fees and assessments collected for infrastructure would be required to be applied to the geographic zone from which they were originated. Last, before approval of a residential development project of five or more units, the county would have to make a finding that the project complied with the policies listed in the initiative.

A fourth initiative filed on Jan. 30 describes its purpose as being to “Retain El Dorado County’s Current Zoning.” In the narrative, the initiative complains that, “For over 30 years, developers, real estate brokers, agriculturalists and politicians have wrangled over El Dorado County’s General Plan.” It maintains, “The county is presently in the process of amendments that will increase densities within land-use designations, remove the 30 percent open space rule in dense developments, remove grading restrictions for slopes over 30 percent, and eliminate many other protections that will forever change the rural nature of El Dorado County.”

The initiative goes on to allege that, “the changes (to the General Plan) being processed are to conform to federal and state incentives to promote mass transit, bicycle and pedestrian transportation and to force high-density residential and commercial development along major corridors without taking into account the differences in the established land-use patterns or character of each of our different communities.”

To address these issues, the initiative proposes to turn back the clock so that where land-use designations are inconsistent with current zoning, the land-use designation will be amended to match the existing zoning; different policies governing Agricultural Zone and Timber Protected Zone parcels will be restored to their original language to buffer such properties from future urban-type development; the Mixed Use ordinance would be restored to its original densities and development requirements that were part of the 2004 General Plan; policies within the 2004 General Plan that protect the county’s agricultural, historical, cultural, water and recreational resources would be implemented prior to any future discretionary developments being allowed that would impact those resources; scenic corridor and vista point regulations based on local community participation would be implemented prior to any future discretionary projects being allowed in those areas; and future decisions for zoning changes would be based on a land-use compatibility matrix.

Volunteers are already out collecting signatures to qualify the initiatives for the ballot as were paid signature gatherers. Signing up to put the Jan. 14 initiative on the ballot was Todd Lansberry of Placerville. “It all comes down to population,” he said. “We don’t have the water and we don’t have to economy to push for more.”

Collecting his signature was David Jackson of Placerville who is a paid signature gatherer. “Growth is inevitable,” he said, although he is not in favor of too much population growth too quickly. Saying business was brisk, he estimated he was getting 10 to 15 people an hour to sign the different initiatives he was circulating.

In the meantime, the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce has placed ads encouraging people not to sign the petitions, maintaining that they would undermine local control of planning and economic growth and transfer that power to the state.

Laurel Brent-Bumb, executive director of the chamber, said, ”All these petitions and land-use by ballot box is the wrong way to run the county.”

However, local activists like Sue Taylor and Lori Parlin, who are among the backers of many of these petitions, disagree. They maintain the initiatives shift control back to local residents, allowing certain planning objectives to be accomplished in a less expensive and time-consuming manner than if they had to go through county planning.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.

Dawn Hodson

Last Login | Wed Apr 16 08:43:44 2014

Discussion | 28 comments

  • Stan StaileyFebruary 21, 2014 - 8:43 am

    Excellent article Dawn. Just a few points of clarification. 1. The PAID collectors are circulating only the RCU initiative Fix Hwy 50 First/Keep Us Rural along with a couple of state initiatives. 2. The other 3 county wide initiatives: 1-2-3, green, yellow and purple initiatives are being circulated by local volunteers only. This is a grassroots effort. 3. SSCA(Shingle Springs Community Alliance, SOC(Save Our County) and RIPP(Residents Involved in Positive Planning) have joined together as Voter Control) to gather signatures to place the other three initiatives on the ballot. 4. The ad in the Democrat was actually placed and paid for by the County Chamber of Commerce PAC ( political action committee). The public may want to look at the make-up of their Board of Directors before they decide who has the best interest of the local citizen in mind. This will be extremely contentious as the local groups are trying to regain transparency and local decision making. These initiatives, I will sign all four, if successful will eliminate a lot of the influence of outsiders and the good old boys that have held sway over the county for too long.

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  • EvelynFebruary 21, 2014 - 8:47 am

    What is the source of funding for the PAID collectors?

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  • Shingle Springs NeighborFebruary 21, 2014 - 8:52 am

    I believe our neighbors have a right to say how their neighborhoods are developed. Rural should stay rural if residents approve. Those who like housing developments should move to Cameron Park or El Dorado Hills. Give local residents a voice!

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  • Stan StaileyFebruary 21, 2014 - 9:01 am

    I agree, so if you're not involved, get involved. Go to and join up.

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  • Stan StaileyFebruary 21, 2014 - 9:05 am

    I forgot. Petitions will be available at the Shingle Springs Post Office today, Friday from 4-7PM for signatures. Sign In Please.

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  • Joyce A.February 21, 2014 - 9:20 am

    It is my understanding is that there are only 2 paid signature collectors for the RCU initiative. Everyone else is a volunteer!!!

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  • EvelynFebruary 21, 2014 - 9:22 am

    Joyce: What is the funding source?

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 21, 2014 - 9:26 am

    "Laurel Brent-Bumb, executive director of the chamber, said, ”All these petitions and land-use by ballot box is the wrong way to run the county.”" apparently she doesnt believe in the first admendment...the right to petition our government. She stated that by ballot box is the wrong way to run a county. The king of England felt the people shouldnt vote either--it is one of the reasons we game here--to start a new country. For Political, socialeconomic, and religious freedoms. I think it is very arrogant of the leader of the chamber to tell people they should not be able to vote in a place where they have invested their time, and money. The people have the right to decide--esp. on land issues. The people who are just guardians of the general plan-- repeat the same statement over and over....get the input of the people--what better way then by voting?

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 21, 2014 - 9:28 am I am working with the dragon....grrrrrrrr

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  • ObservationFebruary 22, 2014 - 7:23 am

    In spite of your insistence to the contrary, this has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment or the right to vote. The question is whether it is worthy of endorsement and are the unevaluated and seemingly conflicting initiatives the right way to run local government. That is the individual choice - yes or no. Chamber is saying it is not worthy of endorsement and have taken actions to support that position just as the neighbors have taken their position and actions. It is all working, voices are competing and that is the important part. That is the individual right which has nothing to do with a personal bias to an outcome.

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  • Joyce A.February 21, 2014 - 10:00 am

    Evelyn - I'm under the impression that the paid collectors are being paid from small donations from people that want this initiative on the ballot and support this initiative.

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  • Stan StaileyFebruary 21, 2014 - 10:52 am

    There is nothing wrong with paid collectors if you have the money, but they need to understand the initiatives. They have no vested interest so they have a tendency to say whatever they think will get them a signature for payment. I've heard reported 4 instances and I've witnessed one, of misinformation being disseminated by these particular persons at Walmart and Safeway Placerville and Food-4-less Cameron Park. The LVC (Local Voter Control) group, at their informational meeting on Wednesday stressed the importance of being honest and factual when engaging the voters with their initiatives. They were instructed if they don't know an answer, to say so and direct the voter to the various web sites that are available for further information and education.

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  • James E.February 21, 2014 - 11:02 am

    Speaking of Safeway I see in the paper that an equity firm (a Mitt firm) is trying to buy Safeway. Will they drain them of all their assets and then sneak out the back door (a la Neuman) resulting in all the stores being closed? PPines, Pville, and SSprings without a Safeway? Hope not.

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  • Stan StaileyFebruary 21, 2014 - 11:29 am


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  • PatriceFebruary 22, 2014 - 8:43 am

    I briefly heard about this. Will have to find out more. If it really is a Mitt firm I have little hope for Safeway and its employees. A possible closure or detrimental consumer changes is personally upsetting to me. I have shopped at Safeway in CA for 40 years. :(

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  • James E.February 21, 2014 - 11:35 am

    Stan, you're right, sorry.

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 21, 2014 - 11:37 am

    James, someone up here told me that the safeway may be gone within two years...I hope whoever buys it keeps the daughter in law just found out she was pregnant. so many without work up here as it is....I go to safeway several times a day...just to say "hey" to the population :) I have been there twice already today. This happen with the birth of my grnadson--i week after he was born--my son was part of the mass layoff at the Camino mill. doesnt anyone care about the workers?, the consumers...shame.

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  • James E.February 21, 2014 - 11:44 am

    Fran, Walmart has taken the grocery business to the lower possible denominator.

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  • James E.February 21, 2014 - 12:26 pm

    Fran, sad prediction if an equity firm takes over Safeway: If they choose to keep the stores open (calling them Mitt's Grab and Run), they will tell the current employees they will all have to reapply, and if accepted they will be paid minimum wage and all be part time (no benefits). Mitt didn't get his millions by being a nice guy when it came to the employees of the companies he took over. Money for everyone except the workers.

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  • Stan StaileyFebruary 21, 2014 - 12:59 pm

    This one has been hi-jacked so I'm done here. "Don't come to the party with fact. Instead use innuendo, half-truths, speculation and outright lies. Then go stand on a corner and see how long it takes for the innuendos, half-truths, speculations, and lies to be presented back to you by others as facts. It is a specious world out there." Stan Stailey

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  • Laurel StroudFebruary 21, 2014 - 1:58 pm

    I thoroughly support Lori Parlin and Sue Taylor in their effort to place some very good initiatives on the ballot. I am the chairperson of RIPP (Residents Involved in Positive Planning) and am proud to say that organization has given its support to their efforts. Please sign all the petitions as this is your right as citizens to support getting ideas from the public on the ballot. What I don't appreciate is the Political Action Committee of the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce taking out ads trying to scare citizens into not exercising their rights. They are the ones who took out the ad in the paper telling people not to sign the petitions. That kind of act is despicable and Laurel Brent-Bumb should be ashamed of herself for supporting such tactics, Obviously, the County Chamber of Commerce appears to have only their own financial gain as a concern. And Steve Ferry from EDH said the same thing as Laurel B-B in front of a recent public meeting. He tried to threaten meeting attendees with a loss of money coming to this County ----- an idea he twisted out of all recognition.. He was nearly run out of the room by incensed citizens, Again, please encourage everyone you know to sign the petitions. This is our right and we shouldn't give it up.

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 21, 2014 - 3:16 pm

    Signing a petition is allowing that issue to go to ballot--for everyone in the county to decide if they want something or not. Otherwise people may not know what is happening...because a small group of people are deciding for them. Take this power away from the people who feel you shouldnt/or cant decide on your own. Allow issues to go to about the issues..and vote. Send a message..."We decide for ourselves."

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  • Melody LaneFebruary 21, 2014 - 5:18 pm

    Brent-Bumb is a neighbor who has described Coloma to the BOS as the environmental "belly of the beast." The Chamber essentially is the head of that beast and the BOS worships the waters BB walks upon. Shame on the EDC Chamber and on Dist. #4 candidate Howard Penn (Coloma-Lotus Chamber) for paying for that deceptive advertisement. I fully support Sue Taylor, RIPP & Dist. #4 Lori Parlin in encouraging citizens to read & sign their petitions.

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 22, 2014 - 8:01 am

    This is about the right to petition a government. People can make their choice when they come upon a petitioner...they do not need a group to say DONT. What are you guys afraid of?

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 22, 2014 - 8:15 am

    "In spite of your insistence to the contrary, this has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment or the right to vote. The question is whether it is worthy of endorsement " <---in the chambers opinion...lololol...they are the ones saying that the people in this county shouldnt have the right to decide on land issues.Observation: Observation--are you "worthy"to decide on land issues? lolol This just gets more insulting to the public every time you guys comment. Let the people decide what goes to ballot--and what they want in this county. they voted on the general plan--and now small groups are changing it--without their knowledge...let the people decide.

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 22, 2014 - 8:51 am

    My daughter in law recieved a union letter--they did not say who was interested--just that someone is...people are worried. That is all the information given.

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 22, 2014 - 8:53 am

    She just got her first picture of the baby she is going to have.

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 22, 2014 - 9:00 am

    With the people knocked off insurance during this Obama Health care switch grandson is one of the people who has been knocked off--months of trying to get him back on....we paid cash for his meds on wed. All these changes in our world--i hope the people who feel they know best--that are "worthy" of the decision making...dont have anyone in their families scared of where their next check may come from...or if a child can get their meds. "Worthy" is the word of the day. Genocide--because some were not "worthy" of existence.

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