Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Group takes aim at permit process and fees


LEFT TO RIGHT, Pastor Jay McCarl, of Cool; Ron Wolsfeld, of Coloma; Pastor David Torres, Garden Valley Chapel; President of the Georgetown Divide Chamber Ken Calhoun, of Pilot Hill; and Ellsworth Rose, Family Care for Motherload Church, of Georgetown, meet to discuss their plans to reduce costs in the county. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

From page A1 | November 12, 2012 |

A meeting of a group dedicated to reinvigorating the economy of the Divide by stimulating more construction work is scheduled for Nov. 13 in Coloma and the public is invited.

Ron Wolsfeld is the leader of the group along with Ellsworth Rose, Pastor Jay McCarl of the Calvary Chapel on the Georgetown Divide, President of the Divide Chamber of Commerce Ken Calhoon, and Pastor David Torres of the Garden Valley Chapel.

Wolsfeld said he and others came together last year because of their concern about the economy on the Divide and what they claim is inattention by the county of the problems they face.

Meetings they subsequently held with members of the community unveiled some common complaints including the cost of building permits and the length of time needed to get them.

“The process of being able to get a permit is painful, complicated, time-consuming … and also costly,” said Wolsfeld. “Sometimes the permits were a factor, but the fee itself wasn’t the biggest thing. It was more the process.

“Going to the Planning Commission or the building department is complicated because of all the hoops people have to jump through to get a project approved,” he said. “Since 2007, hardly any new homes have been built in rural El Dorado County due to the crash in the economy.”

The group believes that streamlining the county permit process, reducing the cost of permit fees — especially traffic impact mitigation (TIM) fees, and allowing more flexibility in what gets built on people’s property would not only generate more construction work locally but also provide needed housing for extended families.

Calhoon noted that “there is a recognized need for multigenerational housing. Even the general plan recognizes that about 6 percent of housing units should be granny flats or senior apartments. But (right now) it’s only 3 percent … the need has never been as great for multigenerational housing.

“We have adult children moving back in with mom and dad, haven’t found a job and the household doesn’t have enough money. We have seniors moving back in with their kids because they can’t afford $3,000 to $4,000 a month for assisted living or senior housing. That trend is going on all over the country. We refer to it as the ‘sandwich generation.’ We have some homeowners who have their adult children moving back in with them and they are also taking care of mom and dad.”

Constructive solutions

Calhoon said it is the cost of permits and regulations that prevent people from building. “That’s why there are only 80 single-family permits countywide this year where there used to be 1,800,” he said. “The need is there but before you turn a shovel of dirt you have $40,000 to $50,000 in fees and the permit process is cumbersome.”

Wolsfeld said because of the lack of construction, the local workforce has been decimated. “The jobs just went away. We realized that if we could revive construction, it would help these people to survive. That’s the biggest problem in rural areas, the absence of construction related jobs. It’s been a major problem for five years.”

Aside from county building permit fees, the group also wants school and fire fees reduced. Members noted that while many school districts are losing students, they continue to collect fees that can only be used for capital improvements. Black Oak Mine School District alone has lost around 500 children over the past four to five years, they noted. The group maintains that reducing school fees would, in the long-term, encourage the building of more single-family homes which would help boost school enrollment.

To stimulate construction in rural areas, the group has come up with different suggestions including simplifying the permit process; reducing or eliminating some of the fees — especially fees for building a granny unit; reducing TIM fees by 30 to 35 percent; lowering school fees for people building a single family home; lowering EID (El Dorado Irrigation District) and GDPUD (Georgetown Divide Public Utility District) hook up fees for a single family home; lowering fire district fees and easing some fire restrictions; and an amnesty program for those who have built without permits.

People struggling like crazy

McCarl said the primary reason they are taking on the issue is to “stimulate the economy on the divide and put our people back to work.” He said he and other pastors meet on a regular basis and they are seeing the same pattern of self-employed people being out of work.

“They are searching off the Divide because they can’t get work up here,” McCarl said. “The county is generally no growth but it’s also unfortunately with these permits, no improvement. We can get along with the no growth thing just fine … but the no improvement thing is in place already because of restrictive fees. So those who want to build, either have to do so illegally … or they don’t build at all and our local people stay out of work.

“In my church, we have lost people who have moved out-of-state for work or work in the Bay Area but come home on the weekends. People are not building or improving up here. There are 17,000 people on this divide and it’s being overlooked and not noticed by the rest of the county because the major population centers are elsewhere.”

McCarl said they give out free food at his church and they have gone from 75 people to 150-175 families a week receiving food. “In 2011 we gave out food to 10,007 people. That’s a lot of hungry people,” he said. “People in my church are struggling like crazy. Many couldn’t get a job here and have moved somewhere else.”

Torres said all the churches are losing people. He’s even received calls for help from people in El Dorado Hills who need food because they are barely able to make their house and car payments.

“Do we have an economy that encourages our children to stay in this area? That’s where there is great concern,” said Torres.

The group members said they are mindful of the county’s revenue situation and the fact that it has been declining for several years. But Calhoon thinks that if permit fees were lowered it wouldn’t reduce revenues. Instead he predicts improvements would bring in more property tax revenue.

At the meeting on Nov. 13, Wolsfeld said they want to make it clear to the Board of Supervisors that they are in it for the long haul and they do expect some results.

“We’re hoping we’ll see some leadership from the new supervisors to do these things for rural areas,” he said, “because they are woefully neglected.”

The group also wants to see residents of the Divide attend. “If people want to see some change and see jobs come our way, they need to come to this meeting,” said McCarl. “Their presence is part of the process of being heard.”

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and will be held at the Mother Lode Church of Coloma at 870 Beach Court. For more information, contact Ron Wolsfeld at 530-344-0880.

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





District 2 candidate statements tell of goals

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Sand Fire nears containment: 66 structures destroyed

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Schedule for Highway 50 blasting closures

By News Release | From Page: A3

Tails wagging over dog park approval

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A3

Quarter-acre fire in Kelsey

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A3



My Turn: Privatization of public services

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

Policy book

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4



Large bangs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Private property gets no respect

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

GDPUD management report

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

District 2 supervisorial special election

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Piano replaced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Comments sign-in policy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Save the Guinea Worm

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment



Sierra Sharks finish middle of the pack

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Roundup: July 29, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Taz pull through for SSL trophy

By Patty Pope | From Page: A8

Ex-Bruin lends a helping hand

By Steven Shaff | From Page: A8 | Gallery



Nuns discover a pleasant place

By Lexi Boeger | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Bargains can be found everywhere

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

At a glance: Game time

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Barbecue dinner to benefit Blue Star Moms

By Mount Aukum Winery | From Page: B2

Stagecoach story takes riders on a trip

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B3

Help needed to make cool ties

By Sew 4 | From Page: B3

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings planned

By Life Line Screening | From Page: B3

Gold Rush Days activities cancelled this year

By Sacramento Convention And Visitors Center | From Page: B4

Master Food Preservers: Tomato time

By Monique Wilber | From Page: B4

Build an author platform at the Library

By El Dorado | From Page: B5

Sacramento area museums offer summer fun

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B5



Weather stats 7-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 6/2-6/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

Crime Log: July 17

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2



Merlyn Wilbur Adams

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Lisa Oliver Rose

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




Women’s Health

Love the skin you’re in

By Noel Stack | From Page: WH4

Dump stress and improve your health, productivity

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: WH7Comments are off for this post

Women’s Health Expo

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH8

Find the confidence you need to fight back

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH12

Our choices directly affect our health

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH14

They’re NOT your mother’s hearing devices!

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH17