District 4 Supervisor Ron Briggs met with constituents at the Hindquarter House in Pilot Hill last Monday to address concerns residents might have. Questions ranged from fire department topics to medical marijuana and zoning issues. Many people wanted to understand what had happened with the fire department consolidation.
Supervisor Briggs said “that after many months of meetings the fire chiefs approached the Board of Supervisors and said they were ready to consolidate, but it would cost $680,000.”
The Board then killed this project in 2010. Consolidation of the various fire departments has many advantages, but fiscally was impossible to implement at that time. According to Briggs, he and District 1 Supervisor John Knight are in favor of reinstating “aid to fire,” however, there has been no action for that.
The new fire protection fee of $150 per rural landowner was questioned. This is a state fee that will go directly to Cal Fire. The fee is being protested by the California State Association of Counties and the group is backing legislation AB 1506, which seeks to repeal the program. Briggs expects local residents to be receiving bills from the state at any time.
Interest was expressed on the status of growing medical marijuana. The county allows individuals to grow in a 200-square-foot area that cannot be seen. It is illegal in El Dorado County to grow marijuana inside, and there have been problems in El Dorado Hills with houses being used for that purpose. Zoning in the county does not permit dispensaries, but the cities of Placerville and South Lake Tahoe permit them to operate.
Concern was expressed that the county is not friendly toward new construction and people can have a hard time getting a straight answer from some of the county offices. Briggs said that the Traffic Impact Fees have been cut by 18 percent and some zoning ordinances in the General Plan are being revised. Granny flat square footage may be raised from 1,200 square feet to 1,600 square feet and the Board can defer fees or waive them in hardship cases.
Briggs said he would like to see some changes to Measure Y on the ballot in November so that roadwork can be done in various parts of the county other than Highway 50. According to Briggs, there needs to be a justifiable reason to change it and the county Department of Transportation is researching it.
The county also is looking into changes to the Home Business Ordinance. San Bernardino County has a plan that is working and it is being studied by El Dorado County officials. This discussion led to talk about the Food Sovereignty and the ability to sell home-grown products.
According to Briggs, it is state law that determines whether people can sell their bread or eggs from their home. The county Sheriff and District Attorney, however, have no inclination to prosecute these so-called crimes.
Members of the Economic Development Advisory Committee were present at Briggs’ visit and said that there are layers of county regulations that are putting the county into “death throes.” Buildings are deteriorating as people cannot afford to make repairs. Briggs said the Board is working to peel back some of these layers, but it is a very slow process.
Briggs also discussed the Board of Supervisors being against the septic inspection fees (AB85) that were brought up about three years ago, but the state is in the red by approximately $10 million and needs fees.
Discussion ensued as to the agricultural zoning and land use. In El Dorado County, farming is a “hobby” as any income generated can barely cover the property taxes.