Thursday’s El Dorado County Board of Supervisors special meeting workshop was more a tutorial on county policies and planning directions that included Economic Development, General Plan discussion and Land Use Policy Programmatic Update (LUPPU). More than 100 people nearly filled the board chambers and included residents with concerns specific to their neighborhoods, policy wonks, representatives of the Real Estate and construction industries and “at least 20 developers,” according to one speaker’s estimate.
Jim Brunello, spokesman for the El Dorado County Community and Economic Development Advisory Committee (CEDAC), presented a summary of the 2004 General Plan data regarding residential development. Under the plan, the county projected an increase of 32,491 housing units by the year 2025. Of that total, he explained that about 12,000 have already been built, and 75 percent of that number were built in one of the county’s five Community Regions that has “sewer service.” Brunello clarified that most of his statistics were limited to areas with that designation.
He further noted that the general plan requires that the majority of new residential units be constructed within the identified Community Regions — defined by the existence or availability of infrastructure such as water and sewer — and roadways that can accommodate increased traffic demands. He also described several categories of residential development that must be considered. The state mandates that each county allocate a portion of its available land to meet the needs for “affordable” housing which can include multi-family dwellings such as apartments and also detached, single family homes.
The Regional Housing Needs Assessment is demanded by the state and the actual numbers are established by SACOG, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. The basis for RHNA is state law under Assembly Bill 32 and Senate Bill 375 which set standards for air and water quality, “sustainable” communities and for addressing housing and transportation needs of families with very low to moderate income levels.
The county is obligated to identify enough parcels that could be developed for those classifications, although it is not required to assure that they be built, Brunello said. Currently, he stated that there is “very little vacant land” zoned for commercial and Multi-Family development within the existing Community Development Boundary Lines. Brunello said up to approximately 13,000 parcels for all categories of homes in those regions with sewer are needed, but only about 2,000 such parcels are available under present guidelines.
“General Plan policies determine the percentage of where the 12,000 units have been built,” and policies will drive the next set of numbers, he suggested. “But whatever you look at, we need more parcels.”
Brunello also advised that the county can “project where the mandated units will go without splitting much land in rural regions.” The critical issues for the future are integrating traffic demand which includes determining the “realistic capacity and the impact of that capacity.”
One of Brunello’s last slides showed a shadow of the “elephant in the room” the iconic notion that something very important is present but is not being acknowledged nor addressed. He described the elephant in the county’s room as “major land use changes that have been proposed and how do you deal with them?”
Those proposals include the San Stino Residential and the Tilden Park projects in Shingle Springs that are the subjects of intense opposition from several groups that have combined to form the Shingle Springs Community Alliance. Marble Valley and Lime Rock are other proposed developments that would need General Plan amendments in order to increase housing density.
Some in the audience expressed dismay at the swirl of numbers, regulations and laws being discussed, while others were more focused on their own neighborhoods, particularly the Shingle Springs Alliance contingent hoping to foil San Stino and Tilden Park by having their Community Region Boundary Lines, redrawn or removed altogether.
Brunello repeated his opening statement that, according to the 2011 Five-year General Plan update, there are to be “no land use changes” before the next Five-year Review. The meaning of that caveat may not be clear, however.
Sue Taylor, representing Save Our County suggested to the Mountain Democrat after the morning session that there are ways of creating changes in how land is used by means of zoning changes, for example. She also delivered an impassioned description of the county’s present and future needs for water and the real potential for water shortages in years to come.
Brian Veerkamp, District 3 Supervisor followed District 5’s Norma Santiago’s concern about the semantics of the issues. “You say no land use changes, but the problem is that these projects are requiring changes.”
“But the projects that came forward followed the process,” Brunello clarified. “You may need to change the process.”
The board eventually directed county staff to continue its work on the LUPPU process and to return in 60 days with a detailed discussion and set of options regarding Community Region Boundary lines.
Contact Chris Daley at 530-344-5063 or [email protected] Follow @CDaleyMtDemo.