Opinion - Placerville roundabout gives automobiles priority over pedestrians
The irony of Measure Y is that it was passed and used to extract existing entitlements from property owners through the institution of development fees through the application process. Those existing entitlements such as granny flats on single family lots were thrown in with all the newly created subdivision lot entitlements. Development fees simply get the subdivider off the financial hook and enable him to continue to create lots, which defeats the purpose of a yes vote for Measure Y and at the same time penalizes those who voted in favor. Those entitlements lost may have been paid for several times over through property taxes, sales taxes, service and application fees, but without cost-effective government the fees collected were spent on other things like huge salaries, overhead and pet projects.
The residents of Placerville and certainly the merchants all have a vested interest in their fair city. I have heard and read what they say about the roundabout the city intends to build with the help of federal funds. The city is staffed and operates under political and financial pressure. It is understandable that a roundabout makes sense to them. It fixes costly underground concerns and alignment issues the city can’t fix on their own nickel. They may think it modernizes and upgrades our old town. They may think it will move traffic more quickly through town and eliminate congestion. Businesses will come and go, but Placerville will still be here and we need to move forward. That is what they may think.
Elected officials make decisions based upon many criteria. They come with varying abilities, all trying to achieve something. They sometimes lead and sometimes follow.
What I know about Placerville is that it is a small, walkable historical California Gold Rush town. What I know about roundabouts is that they take up a lot of real estate and create a dangerous interface between vehicles and pedestrians. They also pose a problem to emergency and commercial vehicles. Evidence of this can be seen by tire marks and occasional damage to the center island by rear wheels of long vehicles on most any roundabout.
The question I have is, will the city move to accept federal funding (what strings are attached, I wonder?) and build the roundabout without the will of the people? A successful ballot initiative to defeat the roundabout would preserve Placerville’s historical context despite what supporters affiliated with government have reportedly said (the engineering parameters presently mandated certainly do not resemble those of a horse and buggy era). It would keep the sometimes bustling pedestrian traffic safer and local businesses busier. It would keep parking a walkable distance from local shops and not increase the need for public transportation.
I find it curious that the city has no traffic study for Cedar Ravine intersections relative to the proposed Marshall hospital parking improvements, and thereby no means to analyze that impact. That is what was reported in the Mountain Democrat. How can they possibly analyze the impact of the roundabout without studies of Cedar Ravine and upper and lower Main and Clay streets? To superimpose a roundabout between upper and lower Main Street has the potential to divide Placerville even more and gives automobiles priority over pedestrians. It will cause many merchants to close shop because of construction and access to their business. Who will be held accountable if that happens?
Bad ideas are worse than no clue. Can’t we find someone who isn’t afraid to say so? I would like to see the city’s future plan for the intersection if the roundabout is defeated. What would be the price, I wonder?