Cameron Park visionaries support walkable downtown, green energy
If a community is defined by what it is not, you will hear Cameron Park residents say, “We’re not Placerville and we’re not El Dorado Hills.”
The community has had a strong sense of identity since Larry and Ruth Cameron purchased the 5,000-acre ranch in the 1950s. The sign on Cameron park Drive says it best, “A Special Place to Live.”
With a population nearing 20,000 in 2010, Cameron Park’s Design Review Committee keeps that phrase in mind as it leads a public effort to ensure future investment in the community is guided by a common vision. Committee members Eric Driever, Erich Fischer, Dyana Anderly, Scott McNeil and Mark Harris call the planning program for the next 20 years enVision 2030.
On Nov. 8 approximately 80 people gathered at the Cameron Park Community Center to further define the community’s vision statement: “Cameron Park is a community committed to sustainable growth, while providing access to local and regional education, recreation, health care, and economic opportunities. Preservation of our social, cultural and natural resources is the key element for development, planning and stewardship.”
The vision statement contains five keys to future development decisions. The decisions should contribute to:
- A transportation design that unifies Cameron Park and its bike/pedestrian friendly urban transit opportunities.
- An interconnecting regional park and trail system that supports a healthy and mobile lifestyle.
- An architecturally cohesive walkable downtown that promotes economic vitality to the region.
- The sustainable integration of our environmentally sensitive natural resources.
- The enhancement of a safe and secure community.
The participants selected their design preferences by placing dots or stars next to design/community improvement ideas that appealed to them. A committee member or volunteer answered questions as each station. Bill Hughes, from the vision subcommittee, facilitated the exercise.
Some results surprised the committee:
Dyana Anderly, a member of the vision subcommittee, led with the comments on signs. “I was surprised to find out that many people who live here don’t know where things are,” she said. “They don’t know where the lake is, or the trails are. They need signs to find their way around. They don’t want signs that are tall or glitzy.”
Eric Driever talked about a walkable downtown south of Highway 50, east of Coach Lane and north of Durock Road. “Landscaped streets and public spaces, such as a downtown park, were most important,” he said. “Awnings and canopies are OK.”
As for styles, participants definitely frowned at modern or Spanish Colonial, preferring Western, Victorian or European village designs instead.
Scott McNeil said a downtown with commercial buildings, mixed use, research and development, and a walkable area is most desired.
“Downtown landscaping and parks are important,” Fischer said, adding that drought tolerant plants are preferred. “People want a standardized parking lot tree palette and natural vegetation for stormwater drainage.”
Driever noticed that no one voted for redbud on the landscaping board. “How many here like the redbud (the bush that blossoms in the spring and is especially noticeable in Cameron Park)?” A room full of hands shot up. There hadn’t been a picture of it on the chart and people overlooked the description at the top. The redbud was rescued and people talked about it becoming an emblem of Cameron Park.
Deb Jensen, El Dorado Arts Council executive director, took charge of public art. “People want public art distributed throughout the community,” she said. “They want functional art — benches, posts and bike racks that are designed appealingly. For large art pieces fountains and sculptures are the most popular, followed by murals. Cameron Park could have a sculpture garden or park that would be a tourist destination and contribute to economic development. Cameron Park could be the birthplace of public art in El Dorado County.”
Mark Harris presented the group’s ideas on multi-family housing. Mixed-use housing downtown and senior housing were the top two favorites, followed by entry-level condominiums. Bed and Breakfast inns also received an endorsement. Three-story buildings are acceptable, the group decided. They weighed the pros and cons of four-story buildings. Pro: they open up land that can be used for gardens or trails or other purposes. Con: they can encroach on neighbors’ views.
Kathryn Gilfillan, another vision subcommittee member, handled the board discussing building materials. Stone was far and away the favorite for exteriors. Integrated solar systems rose to the top of the chart, and living walls and roofs using recycled water gained considerable support.
The Design Review Committee wants to grow public participation in enVision 2030. Three committees are being formed: walkable downtown; bicycle/pedestrian trails; and public art. Volunteers are welcome.
The presenters urged everyone in attendance to encourage others to get involved. Driever said, “This is a new thought. It’s about how we live, how we shop and work. It’s about our quality of life here.”
Comments or questions can be directed to [email protected] The Cameron Park Design Review Committee is also on Facebook.
Agendas and minutes of the Design Review Committee are posted on the El Dorado County website, www.co-eldorado.ca.us/DevServices/index.html. At the bottom left of the Development Services page is a headline called Planning Services. Click on Design Review Committee in that column.
There will be a separate transportation workshop that will further define the future of Cameron Park. The Design Review Committee would like to see the results integrate with enVision 2030.
The next enVision 2030 workshop is anticipated to be sometime in mid-2011.