El Dorado supervisor hopefuls debate future growth
El Dorado County’s anti-growth politics were on display last week as eight contenders for the 4th District supervisorial seat appeared at a forum near a gleaming aquatics complex and well-manicured suburban homes in Cameron Park.
Most of the supervisor hopefuls at the Cameron Park Community Center railed against more neighborhoods sprouting along Highway 50. Even the lone home builder candidate took the microphone to oppose unbridled subdivision construction.
Michael Pettibone, a four-decade county resident and owner of M.J. Pettibone builders, at first touted the designer houses he built on the “street of dreams” in nearby Serrano El Dorado Hills, the vast planned development that has come to symbolize a suburban boom on the county’s western ridge. He endorsed cutting government regulations and creating new business opportunity.
But then he added: “That opportunity doesn’t mean let’s rape the land and create homes.”
The district spans picturesque hills from the eastern border of El Dorado Hills to the high Sierra and includes parts of Cameron Park and Shingle Springs, plus Rescue, Lotus, Coloma and Georgetown. It skirts along the northern line of Highway 50, the artery through golden slopes where the county’s 2004 general growth plan anticipates the bulk of about 21,000 new houses.
Add to that currently approved projects, and slow growth advocates warn that the county east of Sacramento could explode with as many as 33,000 houses in the coming decades – even though real estate forecasts are decidedly lower.
In El Dorado County’s other supervisor race, six candidates are running in the 5th District, which stretches from Pollock Pines to South Lake Tahoe. There, debate is centering on how much commercial development to tolerate in Meyers, where the Sierra Nevada drops into the Tahoe basin.
But it is to the west, where the county’s population boom is accelerating, that the politics of development are most heated.
The 4th District race to replace outgoing Supervisor Ron Briggs is drawing additional fire as activists have circulated five growth-control measures in recent weeks in hopes of landing on the November ballot. The proposed initiatives promise to fortify already strict county sanctions against construction adding to Highway 50 congestion. Some additionally seek to ban any land rezoning seen as imperiling the county’s rustic character.
Along Highway 50, campaign signs for one District 4 hopeful, Howard Penn, scream out: “End Developer Influence.”
Penn is ...