Point and Counter-Point re Mill Creek/San Stino Discussion

by Placerville Newswire / Apr 18, 2016 / comments

In the growth of the county there is an ongoing debate about if and where the growth should happen.  Here are two sides of the debate.  The first presented is by Neil Moore of Shingle Springs and the Counter-point is presented by Maryann Argyres of Camino.

via: Neil Moore

I have not seen too much discussion concerning Shingle Springs Mill Creek Project. It was renamed from the infamous San Stino development.    The application package is available from the El Dorado County website: A12-0005 Z12-0009 PD12-0001 TM12-1509 Application Packet.  According to this packet, the developer expects to have 177 houses completed by the end of 2017.  Phase 1 of 413 homes completed by 2019 and Phase 2 of 219 houses by 2021 for a total of 632 homes.  Most likely 63 of these new homes will be recommended by the El Dorado County Department of Human Services as affordable to moderate and/or low income households per their 2010 memo.

There are some interesting items or issues that have to be resolved in the packet such as the 17 design waivers to the El Dorado County Standards. These waivers address such issues as lot dimensions, driveway slopes, road intersection spacing and street dimensions by reducing widths and radius's. They would like to reduce the sidewalk widths, put the sidewalks only on one side of the street and change the sidewalks to granite pathways and asphalt trails.  Per the developers request:  "Strict application of the design or improvement requirements of this chapter (Section 16.08.020 of El Dorado County Subdivision Ordinance) would cause extraordinary or unnecessary hardship in developing the property."  Review of the 2010 pre-application conceptual review  submitted to the county by the developer did not request any design waivers.  The question could be then is this development going to be a sub-standard neighborhood?

Another concern is the traffic flow.  An all-way (stop signs) element will be on French Creek Road, about 600 feet south of the intersection of Holly, Lorraine and French Creek Road.   The other traffic control will be on Mother Lode which will be a controlled intersection (stop light) at the eastern Buckeye Road.   It will be interesting to see how many of the 632 families will be able to pass through the stop lights at Mother Lode, out to Highway 50, going to Sacramento or to Ponderosa High School efficiently during the morning rush.  I do not expect the outlet to French Creek Road will be useful as it is already congested at the French Creek Road  and Mother Lode intersection for traveling west to the South Shingle Road busy intersection, especially at school hours.  In fact the developers expectations are that traffic will move slowly within the new tract, especially with tight clusters of 4 to 5 houses per acre on narrowed streets.  That ought to be interesting for the people who live there trying to get out of the complex.  Of course one has to expect that fire engines and school buses have to enter the tract.   In the review by the Buckeye School District in 2010, they mention that the additional students from the proposed project (somewhere between 1,047 and 1,307 residential dwellings units at that time) would possibly require an additional school site.  Although the proposed 632 new dwelling units is lower than the earlier proposals, it may still require a new school.

The planned interior of the new community has about 60% of the residences tightly situated on 4 to 5 homes per acre.  Another 20% will be on 2 houses per acre.   This appears to be very much like the bedroom portions of the Serrano neighborhoods although they have real sidewalks mostly on both sides of the street.   The propose Mill Creek/San Stino project neighborhood is presently zoned for 127 lots of 5 acres and 10 acres.   The original proposed 1,101 homes was about a 900% greater allowed density and the current 632 homes is almost a 500% increase.  The proposed plan would be changing the character of the area from rural to an urban environment.   A rural area usually has open countryside and is a place with fewer than 2500 people. Urban areas have populations ranging from 2,500 to 49,999 people.

I do not understand the location of the newly proposed "farm".   The present proposed location will generate additional traffic in an already congested corridor.  The idea is unique and there are other portions of the new proposed Mill Creek/San Stino neighborhood where this "farm" could be placed.   It would then be more convenient.  There could even be a 4H barn in the tract.   One might consider the proposed placement of a non-contiguous "farm" as a sale tempter but more of a traffic hazard to all.

In closing, it is time to take a step back and review what may be happening to El Dorado County.  One of the items that the Mother Lode Drive travelers will see is the new 6 foot sidewalk on the south side of the road as required by the County's memo of October 12, 2010.  This will be from French Creek Road to the eastern most Buckeye Road  intersection, about 1.3 miles long (or possibly further to Old Frenchtown Road).  There is a way to pause the arguments of how to improve the lifestyle of El Dorado County without having outside entities force events with which present residents do not agree.  The only tools we have at this time are approving Measures E and G.  These measures may not be perfect but they are all the county residents have to buffer this onslaught by people who will not be living here.  Vote yes on Measures E and G.

Neil Moore, PE SE
Shingle Springs

via: Maryann Argyres

Here we go again...

Once again, on June 7, 2016 El Dorado County voters will be asked to decide two new initiatives that would amend the 2004 voter-approved General Plan. The small group behind these drastic measures is the same group that has tried to block implementation of the General Plan through procedural delays, lawsuits, initiatives, threats and intimidation (including a failed attempt to recall all five members of the Board of Supervisors). 

Agricultural organizations, community groups, Chambers of Commerce, businesses and a growing list of individuals say “no-growth” Measures E and G will restrict job creation, harm our local economy, and push more growth into our rural communities.

Both Measure E and Measure G gut the General Plan’s carefully crafted balance between economic growth, jobs, and housing and the protection of natural resources, agricultural lands and our rural character. 

  • Measure E will destroy Measure Y's very successful traffic mitigation program, which has generated over $200 million for road improvements since 1998. 
  • Measure G tosses out the General Plan land use diagram and substitutes vintage 1980’s zoning in a process with unidentified and unintended consequences.
  • Both initiatives would drive more growth into rural areas with inadequate roads and infrastructure and eliminate lower density alternatives for sites that allow apartments by right.
  • These initiatives would plunge the County into years of inactivity and costly litigation over violations of state law and stripping away of basic property rights.

Both Measure E and Measure G will stop all “discretionary” approvals – even projects fully consistent with the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance.  The end result will be that no discretionary approvals will be granted and no new roads will be built.   

"Discretionary" approvals are a much more extensive list than proponents will admit, and include a long list of common actions and things we need and want to serve our communities. We address the "discretionary approval" issue in more detail below.  

We urge your “NO” vote on both Measure E and Measure G.

The "Poison Pills" in Measures E and G

Words matter, especially language used in ballot measures and other laws. Both poorly written Measures E and G contain "poison pills" that obstruct General Plan implementation, along with economic development, expansion of agriculture, housing and jobs. If adopted, Measures E and G would amend the General Plan to immediately prohibit "any form of discretionary approval for a project".  A "discretionary project" is one that involves the exercise of judgement or deliberation when the county decides to approve or disapprove the activity.  The General Plan defines "discretionary decision" and "discretionary project": 

Discretionary definition shadow

Measure E would change voter-adopted Measure Y language (approved by 70% of voters in 2008) to require that all road improvements necessary to prevent cumulative traffic impacts from new development from reaching Level of Service F must be fully completed before any form of discretionary approval can be given to a project.  Paragraph 3 of Measure E reads:

"Cumulative traffic impacts" means more than the traffic impacts caused by a project - it includes the traffic generated by all other development projects anticipated during the planning horizon. Road improvements needed to mitigate cumulative traffic impacts include all the road improvements identified in the General Plan and currently funded by the TIM Fee program - with an estimated cost well over $500 million.  Measure E requires all these improvements to be fully completed before any discretionary approval can be given to a project. The General Plan defines "cumulative impact":

Cumulative language from GP

Alliance for Responsible Planning, along with businesses, the agricultural community and the original Measure Y committee share similar concerns about the effects of these extreme initiatives. Bill Center, a Measure Y Committee member, tells the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors about his concerns in the video below:

"The proposed language seriously changes Measure Y’s purposes... It currently reads... as it would become law if passed, ‘all necessary road improvements shall be fully completed to prevent cumulative traffic impacts from new development from reaching Level of Service "F" during peak hours...' and then the added language is ‘before any form of discretionary approval can be given to a project.’ (at 3:26)

Bill Center continues:

"What concerns me even more greatly, however, is that the language applies to all discretionary projects. A discretionary project is almost every project brought before the Board of Supervisors and/or the Planning Commission, and this language prohibits approving any kind of discretionary project no matter how big or small...Either the intent is to stop virtually all development in El Dorado County, or an unintentional mistake was made...Discretionary variances are often needed to approve job centers, research parks, tourist recreation businesses, hotels, wineries, retail stores, even expanding existing businesses. The list is virtually endless. This language prohibits approving any discretionary project no matter how big or small until all road improvements have been fully completed..." (at 5:00)

In the video clip below, Jim Moore, resident of Camino and member of the Measure Y Committee, concurs:

"As you know, the difference between a discretionary project and a ministerial project is significant. It’s not just big projects. A discretionary project is a variance for a winery I want to build in Camino... (at 0:57)


"The language of this measure is so broadly written it exposes everybody... Because the way it’s written is 'all necessary road improvements shall be fully completed' – that’s additional language... 'before any form - any form - of discretionary approval can by given to a project'. An agricultural project, a residential project, a jobs/commercial project, any discretionary action. That’s the problem with this. That language is far too broad...” (at 1:43)

Sue Taylor, Measure E author and proponent responds in the video clip below: 

"I do know about the language... If it’s got such a huge ‘poison pill’, then let it go on the ballot. Let them do the work we had to do to explain to people what this does."

Later in the meeting, County Counsel Ed Knapp tries to clarify the meaning of "discretionary" in the context of land use decisions for the Board.  Sue Taylor tries to shut down the discussion (at 4:00).

A month later, Sue Taylor tells the Board of Supervisors that Measure E is “almost identical” to original Measure Y. Sidestepping the overly restrictive language in Measure E's Paragraph 3 (above), she says that her group "toughened the language" so that "traffic impacts do not go unmitigated" - as if over $200 million in Measure Y road improvements to date didn't mitigate impacts - and to "prevent...to restrict some of the stuff".  She explains parts of the initiative in great detail, but never admits that her Measure E language requires all roads to be built before any form of discretionary approval can be given to a project.  

"Discretionary" actions impacted by these initiatives go far beyond large development projects to include a long list of permits and other applications authorized by the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission and Zoning Administrator involving the exercise of judgment or "discretion":

  • A Conditional Use Permit for a commercial kitchen and dining facility at a winery, a hotel, a bed and breakfast inn, certain public park facilities, a new retail business or the expansion of an existing business are all types of "discretionary" actions.
  • A Temporary Use Permit to allow amplified music at a winery concert or the American River Music Festival is a "discretionary" activity.
  • A Variance to reduce a sideyard setback or allow construction of a fence taller than permitted by right is "discretionary".
  • A Parcel Map to divide property, even among family members, is a "discretionary" action prohibited under these initiatives.

No one - not even the initiative proponents - can make the elephant in the room disappear by pretending it doesn't exist. These initiatives are poorly written and will have serious consequences for El Dorado County's economy, agriculture, housing, jobs and our rural lifestyle.  Vote "NO" on Measures E and G.

Via: http://www.edcarp.org/about-us