Measure Y authors Bill Center and Jim Moore argue that large residential developments currently in the approval process fail to create jobs, which is reason-enough to oppose them.
In fact, the Marble Valley proposal has 42 freeway-adjacent acres set aside for a possible corporate campus.
Center blames the large residential developers for forcing commercial buildings to bear a business-stifling portion of the Traffic Impact Fee burden, $10 to $15 per square foot in the El Dorado Hills Business Park. Many choose to do business elsewhere.
“Businesses don’t cause congestion,” said Center. “The source of the trip is the house.”
The two contend that the best way to lower road fees is to lower growth projections. “The only reason the TIM fees are so high is all this growth that the old General Plan would have allowed requires road improvements,” said Moore.
“People are getting hit with $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 TIM fees based on growth that isn’t going to happen,” added Center.
The projects on El Dorado County’s Capital Improvement Plan are based on the General Plan’s growth projections. The CIP drives the TIM fee calculation. Center has been active in the process from its inception.
“Under the growth rates today, 80 or 90 percent of the CIP gets built in the last 10 to 20 years,” he said.
Lowered growth projections would lop expensive projects off the bottom of the Capital Improvement Plan and in turn reduce TIM fees, he said. But not in El Dorado Hills.
“TIM fees in El Dorado Hills are like a contract,” said Center. “They wouldn’t change.”
Changing the 2004 General Plan’s underlying growth projections would require a new EIR and a General Plan amendment, at least.
That’s a big ask when the “old” General Plan Moore refers to is the result of 18 years of contentious meetings, lawsuits, studies, a moratorium that took millions of dollars of consultants, attorneys and staff time, plus the economic impact of the resulting lawsuits, moratorium and public vitriol.
Center later suggested the county abandon TIM fees for large projects like Marble Valley.
“We can look directly at that subdivision and determine what the impacts of building those homes would be and charge appropriately,” Center explained. ““The TIM fee is calculated to approximate the roadway impact, but with large projects the impacts are easier to identify.”
The bottom line is, while El Dorado County has been infighting over how best to “keep us rural,” the market has shifted, Center said.
Singles, young couples, fractured and small families now make up the lion’s share of new homebuyers, he added. “The vast majority of houses aren’t being built for Ozzie and Harriet anymore.”
Then there’s Folsom.
“We’ll be competing with Folsom South, 10,000 units in one of the largest developments in the region, just five miles away,” said Center. “Folsom has shown the ability to build places that are incredibly attractive to suburbanites.”
“Having said that, people who bought in El Dorado County drove through Folsom to get here,” he added. “So we have a market.”
“Our goal is simple: to keep the projects at the current General Plan designations,” he concluded. “We will fight (for) that, take it to ballot if we have to, but we think an advisory vote would be just as effective.”