Another controversy about bears — Residents complain about sculptures
The large number of wooden bears displayed in Meyers along Highway 50 during the summer season has drawn complaints from Meyers residents and attracted the attention of code enforcement officials.
The El Dorado County Planning Department says the chain saw-carved bears as well as a variety of other products that sit outdoors in Meyers are deemed illegal by the area’s community plan.
The owner of the wooden bear business has responded by circulating a petition which was signed by about 20 Meyers business owners who want to continue to display their goods along the road.
The issue is expected to be discussed by the public and officials at a meeting of the Meyers Community Roundtable next week.
John Hill, the owner of a business called The Bear’s Den, at 3202 Highway 50, has hired attorney Dennis Crabb to represent him. Crabb said the planning department and the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office have agreed to wait until after the public meeting to address the notice of violation received by his client.
“The regulations in my view are ambiguous,” Crabb said. “The guidelines are not clear what can be allowed and what’s not allowed. That’s really the heart of the issue: What are reasonable rules.”
Sue Yang, chairwoman of the Meyers Community Roundtable, said at issue will be the Meyers Community Plan, which was adopted in October 1993.
“It was a very complicated process,” Yang said. “It was not done randomly, it was done with a lot of planning.”
Yang said she wants the issue to be discussed at the next Roundtable; gatherings are held whenever an issue comes up.
Crabb estimates that amending guidelines contained in the Meyers Community Plan would take about three months. But changing the plan would take six months to a year.
Dave Solaro, chairman of the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors who represents South Shore, said he brought the wooden bear issue to the attention of the planning department after it was discussed at several Roundtable meetings.
“What we’re trying to do is work on reasonable guidelines to assist businesspeople, yet have it not be in violation of the community plan,” Solaro said. “What we’re looking for is community input; what Meyers residents want to see in their community.”
Solaro said he hasn’t heard any residents requesting that products not be allowed outdoors. Instead, he said, he has heard requests for the community to adopt reasonable guidelines for outdoor advertising.
Hill could not be reached for comment Monday, but other Meyers business operators, including Sunrise Ski and Snowboard Rental, which rents equipment out of the The Bear’s Den in the winter, said the wooden bears are a key attraction for the Meyers community.
“In the summertime, it’s the first place tourists stop,” said Brian Sloan, a manager at Sunrise. “They take pictures of their family beside the bears. I think it’s silly we can’t have stuff outside to sell. I mean where else can we put this stuff?”
Corey Funk, owner of the Alpaca Pete’s at Meyers, keeps 3-foot wooden bears outside around his store all year, but said he doesn’t put them near the road. Funk said any new guidelines should allow products to be displayed outdoors.
“It’s a business corridor, not residential,” Funk said. “As long as the displays are tasteful and not outrageous. Since we’re not in a mall setting we have to have something out to let people know what’s inside. We don’t have foot traffic, we have cars going by at 40 to 50 mph.”
— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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