When the Board of Supervisors hosted a workshop to discuss growth in the county so many people turned out, Supervisor Ron Briggs opened the meeting with a joke about calling the fire marshal.
“The room was overflowing,” said Ellen Van Dyke of the Green Valley Alliance, a coalition of local residents concerned about easing congestion on Green Valley Road and the impact of large proposed residential projects in the county.
Green Valley Alliance recently joined forces to create the larger consortium Rural Communities United, made up of county residents concerned about growth in the area. The spokesman for the group at the workshop was former District 4 supervisor Bill Center, also known for co-leading Measure Y efforts with Camino resident Jim Moore. Passed by El Dorado County voters in 1998, 75 percent of El Dorado Hills voters again said yes in 2008 to a 10-year Measure Y extension, according to Center. Measure Y requires developers of five or more single-family residential properties to “fully fund road improvements that keep traffic levels below Level of Service F (F as in failing, as seen by heavy traffic delays).”
“If traffic can’t be mitigated, new housing projects cannot be approved,” said Center.
Using CalTrans data, Center argued Highway 50 has already reached LOS F in several parts, namely from El Dorado Hills Boulevard to the El Dorado County line. Highway 50 from Cameron Park Drive to El Dorado Hills Boulevard is at 92 percent capacity, he said, and there are no plans by CalTrans, SACOG or Folsom to widen Highway 50 beyond the current six lanes in the next 20 years.
Even the new interchange projects won’t help ease traffic congestion, he continued. “The Silva Valley and El Dorado Hills interchanges will make it easier to get on to Highway 50, but they will do nothing to increase capacity to carry through traffic once on Highway 50,” Center said.
So why are there plans to build 20,000 more single-family homes, with 48 percent of the projected county growth in El Dorado Hills alone, even though this is in conflict with Measure Y? This was the rhetorical question of the workshop and supervisor Briggs called the discussion, “The other side of growth.”
“We are not for no-growth,” said Van Dyke in an interview with Village Life. “We are for responsible growth.”
“We felt the presentation was well received by the supervisors, that they asked thoughtful questions and that they understand that this issue is a turning point in the way the county should be looking at all projects moving forward,” she continued. “There were no votes intended to be taken, but staff was directed to meet with members of the new Measure Y coalition, Rural Communities United, and discuss traffic, housing and the projections to be used in the General Plan update, with feedback to be provided to the board immediately and a return to the agenda in 60 days.”
On Sept. 30 the Board of Supervisors has scheduled a session to address multiple land use issues — Community Regions, the General Plan Initiation Process Policy, possibly Wilson Estates and more.
“The intention of loading up this single meeting with items that have common issues is to reduce the amount of time people will need to take off from work in order to participate,” Van Dyke said.
Center announced Rural Communities United will initiate a ballot measure for 2014 before the end of 2013.
Planning for LOS F (Gridlock) Traffic is Unacceptable: Forego approving major new housing projects unless road capacity improvements have been constructed sufficient to prevent cumulative LOS F traffic from being reached on any county road, intersection, state highway or interchange.
Protect Rural Communities: Maintain the current open space, recreation, and low and medium-density housing designations within the current El Dorado Hills, Cameron Park and Shingle Springs Community Region boundaries. Prohibit the expansion of Community Region boundaries to approve large housing projects.
The group also plans promote another Measure Y extension beyond 2018.
“The public deserves a voice in big issues like growth in the county,” said Center. “Measure Y has been an effective voice.”
For more information visit RuralCommunitiesUnited.com.