LOCAL ACTIVISTS NOW UP TO FOUR LAND-USE INITIATIVES
When the original Regulatory Reform group got started several years ago, it quickly became apparent that some members of county staff were not pleased with the public effort to implement the 2004 General Plan (GP). Since the Board of Supervisors (BOS) was not engaged, for the most part, in implementing or defining policies directed by the GP, it left a void that staff planners were filling, with little or no oversight, and with little unified direction between various county departments. Reg Reform’s effort eventually gained traction and the BOS subsequently endorsed the effort via the Land Use Policy Programmatic Update (LUPPU) process. This process engaged the BOS in critical decision making that allowed the GP implementation to move forward.
It quickly became apparent that both sides of the ongoing local “growth wars” were also annoyed with Reg Reformers: both anti-growth advocates and a few developers. The anti-growth advocates wanted Reg Reform to stand with them and oppose projects; a few developers wanted the group to support projects. So to make the process work, Reg Reformers set a couple of rules: First, they defined their overriding “goal” to simply implement the existing GP, which worked without recommending major/widespread GP land use changes. The second rule was that they would not take positions on projects: pro or con! So after irritating both sides of the growth battles, Reg Reformers stood firm. The result has been that some projects have moved forward on their own outside of the LUPPU process, and the anti-growth advocates have brought forth four voter initiatives, all of which essentially invalidate the 2004 General Plan, including Measure Y, that LUPPU would more fully implement.
Many are justifiably confused about the intent or results of each of these ballot measures: The numbers don’t make sense according to research and the end results are unclear, judging by the conflicting nature of the initiatives. For example: Bill Center, Measure Y creator who participated in the re-interpretation of Measure Y in 2008, is now attempting to nullify Measure Y altogether with his initiative titled “Fix Highway 50 First/Keep Us Rural” : Yet Sue Taylor, author of two of the other initiatives, is advocating a ballot measure that restores the “original” Measure Y, but not the version that Bill Center helped to interpret. So which version of Measure Y, if any, should voters support? If both were to qualify for public vote and pass, which one, if either, would stand?
Sue Taylor created two of the four ballot measures and misrepresents numerous facts. In her Measure Y initiative called “Reinstate Measure Y’s Original Intent- No More Paper Roads” Taylor states that the BOS has “used the power of their 4/5 vote to facilitate developers favored projects”. However, no new segments of road allowed to operate at LOS F, have been approved with a 4/5 vote since the 2008 re-interpretation of Measure Y was approved. In fact very few projects have been approved at all in the past 10 years.
Taylor also declares “No More Paper Roads” when in fact, Highway 50 has had on-the-ground paved improvements during the past ten years that total just short of one half BILLION dollars, including the very visible new HOV commuter lanes. There have been numerous improvements made to Highway 50 and they are documented and accounted for in county records and the budget processes. Improvement went to Highway 50 because that is where the GP planned for growth to occur, specifically not in rural areas.
Bill Center states that county supervisors are being lobbied hard by developers to “build 33,000 more homes in RURAL areas of this county.” But even adding in projects proposed outside of the LUPPU/GP process, the factual data simply doesn’t indicate plans to build 33,000 more homes. The projects we are aware of and have researched are centered on the Highway 50 Community Region (CR) corridor exactly where the GP directed that they go, near infrastructure. The original GP included a total of 32,000 homes projected over the GP’s 20-year time frame at a mere 1% historical growth rate. This GP has been in effect for ten years and currently there remains to be built approximately 18,000 residential units of the 32,000 original units, within the LUPPU/GP process. After that number is reached a new GP must be created. It’s simply untrue that there are “plans for 33,000 new homes in rural areas”, unless activists consider Highway 50 to be rural, and some actually do.
Another Taylor initiative is titled: “Initiative to Retain El Dorado County’s Current Zoning”. This one is just plain weird: State law requires each county to have a “General Plan” and requires that the county’s zoning be consistent with that GP. The zoning MUST be consistent with the GP and not visa-versa. As one judge noted in a local court case specifically regarding this issue: “The tail does not wag the dog!”
Finally the fourth initiative is titled “Protect Rural Communities – Fix Community Region Line Flaws.” Another odd one since the BOS has already included Taylor’s area of Camino/Pollock Pines Community Region to be analyzed to change it to a Rural Center, as requested a year ago by local Camino /Pollock Pines residents and the agricultural community. Now activists in Shingle Springs and El Dorado Hills also want to change their Community Region boundaries, which would crumble the GP foundational structure that preserves EDCs rural areas. Center claims we can accommodate future growth within existing rural lands and rural roads without a financing plan to maintain the rural roads.