On Feb. 28 Folsom leaders rode the historical “Skagit” railroad car from Hampton Station, near the Hampton Inn, on railroad tracks alongside Placerville Road to just north of White Rock Road. There, a new sign was posted that reads, “Folsom City Limits, Population 72,203, Elevation 287.”
As the sun broke through gray clouds, Mayor Kerri Howell posed at the sign with her Folsom City Council members. “This is a great day for Folsom,” she said. Howell has been working on this project for 18 years, beginning with four years on the Folsom Planning Commission followed by 14 years on the Folsom City Council.
The occasion marked a milestone in Folsom’s acquisition of 3,585 acres bounded by Highway 50, the Sacramento-El Dorado County line, White Rock Road and Prairie City Road.
Sacramento County Local Agency Formation Commission approved annexation of the area to the city of Folsom on Jan. 18.
“We can’t call it the SOI anymore,” said public information officer Sue Ryan. The area had been referred to as the “SOI,” or “Sphere of Influence,” for nearly 11 years.
Before it got to the SOI stage, there was a series of “2 by 2” meetings with two representatives from Folsom and two from Sacramento County to come together on a cost-sharing agreement. There were additional meetings between the city and representatives for the various owners of the properties in the plan area to develop a plan that worked.
LAFCO began hearings on the project in 1997. The next year the Draft Environmental Impact Report made the rounds of public hearings.
On June 6, 2001, when Sacramento County Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan served on the LAFCO board, she made the motions to approve the SOI for Folsom: certifying the Folsom Plan Specific Area Plan Final Joint EIR/EIS, approving the General Plan amendment for the project, and approving the Specific Plan. The EIR/EIS certification included conditions that needed to be met in order for the land to be annexed to Folsom. They related to water, transportation, housing, financing and related matters. The motions passed on 5-0 votes.
Following a series of city-sponsored resident workshops, Folsom voters approved Measure W in 2004 — supporting the plan with conditions on the area’s development that were incorporated into the city’s charter. One condition was that the oak woodlands on the east side of the property, approximately one-third of total area, be preserved as open space. Another was that the existing residents not be required to pay for any costs of the new development. The city was also required to provide a new source of water for the area.
In 2006 the Folsom Cordova Unified School District passed Measure M, which approved a bond to build schools as the area develops.
“We can call this land the ‘Folsom annexation area,’” said Ryan. City Council member Steve Miklos suggested the “Folsom Plan area” One name that will be politically incorrect is “South Folsom.”
Folsom has grown in pieces since Capt. Joseph Folsom hired Theodore Judah in 1955 to survey and map the original town.
Folsom City Councils in recent years have been adamant that there is only one Folsom — not a North Folsom, when the city annexed the American River Canyon area and land north to Granite Bay; not a South Folsom, when the city grew south from Bidwell Street to Blue Ravine Road, then again to Highway 50; and not an East Folsom, when it expanded to the El Dorado County line from Folsom Lake to Highway 50. Someday the Folsom annexation area or Folsom Plan area will just be Folsom, with many different neighborhoods like the rest of the city.
Road and trail connections are part of the plan to join the area south of Highway 50 with the existing city.
The Folsom Plan is about six square miles, a 25 percent increase in the city’s size. The plan is designed to create 1,053 acres of open space, 30 percent of the total; 300 acres of parks and schools; 1,474 acres of residential construction, with 10,000 housing units; and 511 acres of commercial, industrial and office space.
Development is expected to occur gradually over the next 20 to 30 years. It is forecast to generate 13,000 jobs.
The transportation plan provides for rapid bus transit and ease of access by bicycle or walking from one neighborhood to another. Community Development Director David Miller pointed out that a key factor is attention to the jobs-housing balance. “The goal is to keep as many people working in the area where they live and off the commuter lanes.”
Vice Mayor Miklos said the next step is that “the city and the landowners get together to prepare specific plans.” Miklos and fellow Councilmember Jeff Starsky are the council subcommittee for that purpose. “There will be public hearings, community involvement and planning,” he said.
Miklos was elected to the Folsom City Council in 1994 and served as mayor from 1998-2001, 2003-2005 and in 2009. He is on the board of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. Starsky was elected to the council in 2000. He served as mayor in 2002 and 2010. He is on the board of Sacramento Regional Air Quality Management District.
Miklos noted, “Some people think this is not a good time to be doing this (moving forward on the Folsom Plan). We think it is a good time. We’ll be creating jobs.”
Observing the cattle and horses grazing on the hill to the east, Miklos said, “They will be moving to their other home on a ranch in Nevada soon. They do that every year.”