El Dorado County’s Measure Y has been passed by significant voter majorities twice since 1998. The Measure was incorporated into the county’s general plan as Policies TC-Xa, and its current term extends to 2018 at which time it may be brought back to the voters to extend or alter or terminate.
Briefly, the measure states that future residential development must not surpass a certain threshold regarding its impact on traffic both on county roads and on state highways within the county. It may not result in creating or continuing a condition known in traffic engineer parlance as Level of Service F. LOS F defines conditions on a roadway or related infrastructure that is at or above capacity. Like a school grading system, “F” represents failing.
Under the law, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors must adhere to the guidelines of Measure Y when approving future residential development projects.
“Therefore if a board action violates Measure Y, it violates a general plan policy. All discretionary actions must be in compliance with the general plan,” thus El Dorado County Counsel Ed Knapp responded to a request for information about the measure and its potential effects on growth and development in the county.
As noted in the accompanying article, members of the original Measure Y committee continue to push county government to reevaluate processes and decisions on development projects that do or could violate the measure’s strictures.
The Mountain Democrat queried Knapp on a scenario wherein the Board of Supervisors made a decision that an individual or group could interpret as violating the traffic provisions in the general plan. Knapp’s e-mail explained the legalese involved with any challenge of board action related to Measure Y.
“Any person or group with legal ‘standing’ (i.e., they can show that they have been adversely affected by the action), who have exhausted their administrative remedies, can sue to overturn a board action on the ground that it violates the general plan,” he wrote.
“I don’t think offhand that this type of lawsuit could be brought ‘to block further development’ in a general area, or to stop in advance all development applications until things improve, but a separate lawsuit would have to be brought to challenge each separate board action that violates the general plan,” Knapp wrote. “As in all cases, the person bringing the legal challenge would have the burden of proving all matters necessary to sustain the challenge; in this case they would have to prove that the action violated the general plan.”
Although opposition groups have formed to try to prevent some proposed development projects including San Stino, Marble Valley and several along Green Valley Road, none thus far has advanced its challenge solely on an alleged violation of the general plan or its Measure Y policies.