The survey results from El Dorado Hills are no surprise. Most folks there want more public open space and parks. At the same time they think El Dorado Hills has enough houses.
But there is an inherent contradiction here. There are two kinds of open space. First, there is open space that is somebody’s private property, which if it is on a hill facing Latrobe Road or El Dorado Hills Boulevard is a view enjoyed by those who drive by or live across from it, but one that could change. Second, there is open space designated so by Serrano’s plan. That includes a substantial amount of hillside facing El Dorado Hills Boulevard.
The real contradiction comes from the desire for more parks but not more houses. It is residential subdivisions that pay for parks through fees extracted by the Quimby Act. That money goes to the El Dorado Hills Community Services District, unless a developer builds the required size park. More houses, more parkland.
It is the same thing with the desire of El Dorado Hills residents to see more commercial development, more dining, shopping and entertainment opportunities. Town Center and Montano d’El Dorado were made possible by having a critical mass of “rooftops.” Without that substantial residential development, Town Center only would be a gas station, a fast food restaurant and maybe a grocery store. Without Serrano, Raley’s would still be facing away from El Dorado Hills Boulevard and wouldn’t have all the other small businesses in the center.
It’s a simple formula: More homes means more retail business to serve those homes; more homes mean more parks. And finally, more homes mean more people to share the cost of operating the water and sewer district. That is the best insurance against higher water rates.
One thing the county can be more diligent about is ensuring public biking and hiking trails along Latrobe Road. To connect Latrobe pedestrians to El Dorado Hills Boulevard will require a pedestrian bridge over Highway 50. If Serrano is allowed to go forward with its residential and park plan for the area behind Raley’s, it will build a pedestrian overpass. That will be an important amenity for El Dorado Hills. It will put Town Center within walking distance of quite a few people.