Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Initiatives: Spending = signatures: 2 qualified

From page A1 | May 30, 2014 |

The battle of the initiatives over how little or how much growth will take place in El Dorado County is already showing up in signatures and money.

So far five different initiatives have been circulated, with two of them already attracting enough signatures to be on the November ballot.

One of the initiatives supports continued growth in the county and is the product of a group called Region Builders.

A Sacramento-based group of commercial builders, architects and engineers, their initiative is called Control Growth to Fix Our Local Roads.

Last week they reported they had collected enough signatures to qualify their initiative for the November ballot. If adopted, the Region Builders’ initiative would extend Measure Y through 2025.

Measure Y, which is due to expire in 2018, requires new development to fully fund the cost of improvements to local roads.

The initiative would also require new single-family residential subdivision development projects of five or more parcels to not result in, or worsen, gridlock on Highway 50. However, certain roads and highways would be exempted until 2025, including sections of Cambridge Road, Cameron Park Drive, Missouri Flat Road, Pleasant Valley Road, U.S. Highway 50 and State Route 49.

The initiative directs growth into existing Community Regions. Planning for the widening of U.S. Highway 50 or improvements to state facilities would be a priority and coordinated with other agencies. Inconsistencies between the initiative and the General Plan would be remedied by the General Plan being amended to ensure consistency.

So far the group has spent $65,000 to collect signatures using a combination of paid workers and some volunteers. They have spent another $15,000 to $20,000 on legal assistance, printing and other costs according to Joshua Wood, who is the executive director of Region Builders.

Another initiative that qualified last week for the November ballot is called Fix Highway 50 Traffic First/Keep Us Rural. The initiative largely holds the county to what it has already approved in the way of residential development.

The initiative, if passed, would require that two policies be added to the General Plan. One would prohibit the county from approving any single-family housing subdivisions of five or more parcels once traffic on Highway 50 reaches gridlock.  The second would prohibit the county from changing land-use designations already in effect or from raising the density on property already designated residential.

To date proponents of the initiative have raised $14,563 with expenses of $9,898. Contributions include a $5,000 loan from Bill Center who is a former member of the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors and one of the backers of the measure. Center said that about half their signatures were gathered by paid workers and the rest by volunteers.

Three other initiatives to restrict growth in the county are still being circulated. To date, they have received $3,231 in contributions with expenses of $3,091.

The three initiatives are called Protect Rural Communities — Fix Community Region Line Flaws, Reinstate Measure Y’s Original Intent — No More Paper Roads, and Retain El Dorado County’s Current Zoning.

As of last week, some 5,000 signatures had been gathered for each petition with 7,737 valid signatures needed by June 9 to qualify for the November ballot.

Among other things, the initiatives would change the Community Region designations for communities along Highway 50 to protect them from high intensity suburban development; would reinstate policies that prohibit residential developments or road improvements that worsened gridlock; would prohibit the county from using tax revenues to pay for building road capacity improvements to offset traffic impacts from new development projects; would require that land-use designations be amended to match the existing zoning; would require that policies within the 2004 General Plan that protect the county’s agricultural, historical, cultural, water and recreational resources be implemented prior to any future discretionary developments being allowed; would require that scenic corridor and vista point regulations based on local community participation be implemented prior to future discretionary projects being allowed; and would require that future decisions for zoning changes be based on a land-use compatibility matrix.

All these different slow and anti-growth initiatives haven’t gone unnoticed by some in the local business community who decided to come together and form a business Political Action Committee (PAC) that calls itself the El Dorado County Voters for Local Control.

Laurel Brent-Bumb, who is the chief executive officer of the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce, said the group is an independent PAC made up of people from the agricultural industry, Realtors, chambers of commerce, Parker Development, Builders Exchange, the Building Industry Association and others.

While not officially endorsing the Region Builder’s initiative, they have nonetheless made their feelings known by raising $71,624 and spending most of it on newspaper ads urging residents not to vote for any growth control initiative, claiming that doing so will take away local control of land-use planning.

Major contributors to the PAC include $5,000 from Doug Veerkamp Engineering, $10,000 from a building industry and property management association, $10,000 from Pacific Coast Companies, $10,000 from Tom Winn Communities, $5,000 from Sierra Pacific Industries and $20,750 in non-monetary contribution from Parker Development for polling activity.

In the meanwhile, with the deadline fast approaching for volunteers to gain enough qualifying signatures on the remaining three initiatives, it’s still up in the air which ones will be on the ballot and which will prevail come Nov. 4.

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





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