Why is the RCU “Fix Highway 50 First” Initiative necessary? Why, indeed! Because the balance of power determining how the El Dorado County General Plan is implemented is weighted on the side of residential development. You experience the results of this imbalance in deteriorating traffic patterns, countywide.
In a fair and balanced world, the county’s General Plan would assure that the interests of local communities be heard. The General Plan is chartered to “… provide for growth in an environmentally balanced manner, maintains the rural character and quality of the living environment, providing adequate infrastructure while conserving agricultural lands, forest and woodlands, and other natural resources.”
Developers have found, however, ways to compromise the “balance” part. And therein lies the rub. The previous effort to give citizens a stronger voice in the implementation of the General Plan, Measure Y, was overwhelmingly approved by the voters in 1998 and again in 2008. It amended the General Plan to require that “… if traffic is already deemed Level of Service F (i.e., gridlock), new projects must not be approved.” It was assumed that the county would use timely and accurate traffic data as a means to enforce Measure Y.
But concerned residents discovered that the county was neglecting to measure changing traffic patterns, particularly on Highway 50, and that the data used in reviewing developer plans was neither timely nor necessarily accurate. They found that Caltrans in fact already deems segments of Highway 50 through EDC to be in gridlock! Regardless, high density projects, leveraging faulty data, are moving forward. Think of projects like Marble Valley, San Stino, Dixon Ranch, Marble Valley-Lime Rock ….
The Rural Communities United was formed to fix this, and is now asking voters to sign its petition to get an Initiative on the Nov. 4, 2014, ballot to strengthen Measure Y.
Essentially, the new Initiative stops the county and the developers from hiding the ball on traffic data. It stipulates that if Caltrans (not the county, not the developers, and not their respective traffic engineering subcontractors) determines that traffic on any Highway 50 segment west of the city of Placerville has reached gridlock, then the county cannot approve new projects of five or more parcels. And contrary to what the developers would have you believe, this action will not take local control away from the county in governing land use; it just promotes and ensures trust and transparency in the use of county traffic data.
The initiative process is not an easy one. Run by volunteers, funded by contributions from concerned residents like you, it competes with well-heeled developers and even organizations that often receive public funding. The El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce, for example, recently paid for a misleading ad in the Mountain Democrat and Village Life, advising voters not to sign the RCU’s petitions.
If you “follow the money” it’s obvious who you can trust on this initiative: residents like you, working to ensure a balanced implementation of the General Plan, rejecting further gridlock and fighting to sustain the county’s rural quality of life.
In the end, you will to decide why the RCU initiative is necessary. You drive the county’s roads; you commute on Highway 50. You know from personal experience what high density residential housing will do to your lifestyle, your community, your roads and your quality of life.
Measure Y sunsets in 2018, and without the RCU initiative developers will then be enabled to build over 33,000 new homes, largely in El Dorado Hills, Cameron Park and Shingle Springs. Currently, there are about 54,000 homes in these areas. The county estimates that the 33,000 homes will add an estimated 330,000 new daily trips onto EDC roadways, easily increasing traffic on Highway 50 by 50 percent.
As they say, don’t be fooled. There is a lot of money riding on defeating the initiative. It will stop high-density projects like Marble Valley, San Stino, Dixon Ranch and Lime Rock Valley. Those opposing the Initiative will spend whatever it takes to keep the Initiative from succeeding; and may even launch their own initiative to confuse the voters.
The balance of power hinges on your support for the Initiative. It’s in your hands. For more information on the initiative visit ruralcommunitiesunited.com.
El Dorado Hills