Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Democratic-Chronicles: Whack-A-Mole

From page A4 | January 15, 2014 |

Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part column by contributor Gene Altshuler. Part two will run next Wednesday.

The Democratic-Chronicles will be primarily political in nature. Why politics? Politics is the art of governing and not a dirty word. And because politics affects every aspect of our lives from the jobs we hold (or seek), our health care (or lack thereof), the education of our children, and the environment and our quality of life.

I want to say right up front that I make no bones about my liberal worldview. However I do not hug trees and, in fact, do not hug anyone very often.

It has been proven time and again that a democratic society requires the free and unrestricted flow of information. Proof lies in the extraordinary efforts to which closed societies re-sort to limit the flow of information they consider dangerous to their interests and preservation.

A writer makes lots of choices, not only about what to write, but the selection of facts and the emphasis given to them. To pretend otherwise would be dishonest. If I were to attempt to please all, I would please none.

However, I firmly believe that if a person’s beliefs or worldview cannot stand scrutiny, they are not fully formed. Thus, while some will not agree with me it is important to step outside the warm and comfortable bubbles we tend to unconsciously surround ourselves with, and hear another side.

Don’t like what I say, that is your privilege — just skip the column or write me a note. But I assure you I am an equal opportunity disturber. I have ticked off almost as many liberals as conservatives in my life.

So pull up a chair and join me at the kitchen table and let’s talk over coffee. Oh and don’t feed the dog no matter how much she begs.


Have you ever watched a kid play Whack-A-Mole? You know the game, where they use a hammer to knock down a plastic mole, only to have another pop up somewhere else on the board. They then whack that one and another pops up — endlessly.

Well even kids get tired of the game after awhile. But not, it seems, the residents of El Dorado County. Defeat a proposal from a developer to build a thousand new homes in your backyard and, wait for it, another pops up. Whack that one and …

Yell and stamp your feet at a Board of Supervisors meeting, write angry letters to the Mountain Democrat, gather signatures from your neighbors, and the proposal goes quiet for a while, and then — another pops up, endlessly it seems. This continuous cycle is the very definition of insanity.

From the 19 proposals for the Diamond Springs/El Dorado area, to the more recent ones in Shingle Springs, Cameron Park and El Dorado Hills, we are looking at 35,000 new residential rooftops in our county. Almost 16,000 have already been approved. Another 11,000 have been formally proposed and still another 7,300 are in the works. With such nice sounding names like Marble Valley, San Stino, Lime Rock, Dixon Ranch, Stonehenge and Valley View. As if this little bit of sugar will hide the bitterness of the medicine. (Shades of Julie Andrews singing in “The Sound Of Music.”)

To insult our intelligence, and in a lame attempt to deflate our outrage, the representative of one of the developers said at a recent community meeting, “Well they will not all be built at once,” as if to say you shouldn’t get your panties in a bunch because construction will be spread out over a number of years — one year, five years, 10 years, the end result is the same.

The already approved rooftops will increase existing households in El Dorado Hills by 48 percent, Diamond Springs/El Dorado by 13 percent and Camino/Pollock Pines by 16 percent. If you add in the proposed, but not yet approved houses, El Dorado Hills will have an increase of 53 percent, Cameron Park 59 percent, Shingle Springs 124 percent and Diamond Springs/El Dorado 101 percent.

To make matters worse the city of Folsom is in the process of annexing some 3,500 acres to build 10,000 homes south of Highway 50.

By the way I can actually hear the primal screams from the developers as they are reading this article. “He is a ‘No-Growth’ guy, one who does not believe in free-market capitalism and letting a person exact a fair profit from their assets.” Call me names but I have handsomely profited from our capitalist system and I am a staunch, card-carrying “Smart Growth” kind of guy.

When you get right down to it what does all this mean to you and me?

Traffic congestion
Each new rooftop brings with it numerous new automobile trips per day. We are a bedroom community to Sacramento, thus the commutes to work, then there is taking the kids to school, going shopping for groceries and going out to dinner — all involving using the car. And aside from the traffic, think about what a burden this will be on our broader infrastructure and resources, such as water.

Back in 2008, the voters of this county passed an initiative called Measure Y. This measure states that when the traffic from Sunrise Boulevard to Latrobe Road reaches a level of service (LOS) F during peak traffic hours, a moratorium on new housing construction will be put in place. Well according to the 2013 Caltrans performance report, we have already reached this level of congestion. Further, the LOS from Latrobe Road to Cameron Park Drive is at LOS E, just a fraction below the maximum allowable. We are not looking at a freeway but a 25-mile long parking lot.

County planners say, not to worry, they will require the developers to mitigate the effect of their construction on the traffic. If it were not so serious this argument would be laughable. Building bigger onramps would do nothing more then funnel the increased traffic to an already overcrowded Highway 50. And even a consortium of builders will not be able to pony up enough money to widen Highway 50 by another lane or two in each direction.

Assuming $10 million per lane-mile (a reasonable estimate based on Federal Highway Administration guidelines), the added lanes in the 25 miles from Rancho Cordova to Cameron Park could run about a billion dollars. Can you see the developers ponying up that kind of cash?

Gene Altshuler is a resident of Cameron Park and a community activist interested in economic development and local government.



Gene Altshuler



Heard over the back fence: Attorney to warn about scams

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

Road zone of benefit protester reaches dead end

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Six file for Dist. 2

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

District 2 candidates forum Aug. 14

By News Release | From Page: B1

EID ditch customers get relief

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A1

Veterans receive wildland fire training

By News Release | From Page: B1

Market data open for local biz

By Ross Branch | From Page: B1

Volunteers clean up national forest

By News Release | From Page: A3 | Gallery



Russian metastasis

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

The Democratic-Chronicles: Not invented here

By Gene Altshuler | From Page: A4

My turn: Special interests at EID

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A4



DA hogging Main St. parking

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

CAO and staff hiring friends

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Altshuler’s hypocrisy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Small Farm compromise

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

EID and Dale Coco

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5



Celebrity golf at Tahoe

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Roundup: July 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6

Dolphins ring up another title

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Sharks defeat Loomis Basin in season finale

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Dodgeball: Not the national pastime but …

By Shane Theodore | From Page: A7 | Gallery



At a glance: Comets to meteors

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Taste the best at the State Fair

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Amador Fair honors cowboys

By Amador County Fair | From Page: B3

Tractor Supply Store recognized

By Uc Cooperative | From Page: B3

Arbor Day book helps to identify trees

By Arbor Day | From Page: B4

Learn about lavender and its many benefits

By Christian Women's Connection | From Page: B4

Builders’ Exchange honors scholars

By El Dorado Builders' Exchange | From Page: B5

En garde at Silver Screen Classic

By Auburn Silver Screen | From Page: B5

Lee’s Feed appreciates customers

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B5

My Time meeting in August

By Senior Day | From Page: B5



Weather stats 7-22-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Crime Log: July 8-10

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2



Arthur J. Funston

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Walter Vali

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Jean Lachelle Taylor

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Thursday, July 24, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Wednesday, July 23, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A8

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8

New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Flying McCoys

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8