Back to the drawing board on measures B and D
On March 8, El Dorado County voters will cast their votes, affecting the future look of the region that hugs Highway 50 between the Lake Tahoe basin and Sacramento.
The problem is, many voters may have trouble deciphering what they are voting for, especially as it concerns measures B and D. The measures lay out plans for future development – if passed, B approves a county general plan for future growth and D prohibits the county board of supervisors from adopting a general plan that allows certain types of development to the point where Highway 50 would reach gridlock during peak usage.
Although seemingly contradictory, both ballot measures could become law. If both are passed, Measure D would not be put into practice until down the road, when the county approves the next general plan. For full text of the ballot measures, log on to elections.co.el-dorado.ca.us/lookup.fwx, and enter your street address, or visit an El Dorado County library.
No on Measure B
If passed by voters, Measure B would approve the county’s 2004 general plan. The controversial plan has been under development for years, and regulates the type and scope of development (outside of Tahoe Regional Planning Agency jurisdiction) allowed in the county.
The problem with Measure B is the scope of development it could potentially allow on the back end, in an area already surrounded with massive tract subdivisions. With maximum buildout, tens of thousands of new homes could be built in the county on top of the 14,000-plus that already have the green light. Sacramento-style development would create congestion and smog in the foothills, and hamper visitors and locals access to the main artery between South Lake Tahoe and the Bay Area.
Proponents of the plan say it is a common sense way to develop an area that is in the throngs of inevitable growth. They say it puts the burden of new infrastructure on developers, limits the numbers of apartments that can be built, creates open space buffers and secures water rights.
But opponents have the strongest arguments, mainly that the current general plan is too similar to the one rejected by voters in March 2004. Supervisors, in choosing the plan, chose the highest-growth alternative. If El Dorado County was not abutted on one side by Sacramento growth, this option would have been viable, but Sacramento’s spread east should give El Dorado’s residents pause as they ponder the future look of our county.
South Lake Tahoe has a vested interest in preserving the character of the west slope because of the effect of population density and traffic.
Over the 20-year life of Measure B, Highway 50 could potentially be stretched to its limits, making gridlock traffic a daily reality on a stretch of road already overburdened during peak usage. While new affordable housing is a must for Californians, supervisors can accommodate that need and keep the economic engine running with a scaled down master plan. Changes would not necessarily require scrapping the current plan, just adjusting it to ensure the character of El Dorado County is not compromised in the short term.
No on Measure D
If passed, Measure D would require widening Highway 50 to eight lanes before future development would be allowed in El Dorado County. The measure would only apply to plans adopted in the future. And it wouldn’t apply to plans that may be adopted beyond the measure’s 25-year life.
While Measure D sounds like a common sense solution to the growing traffic problem in parts of the county, traffic controls should be adopted as part of a revised county general plan and under the guidance of CalTrans… and limiting the solution to “eight lanes” does not account for growth that may require an even wider Highway 50 in the future.
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California’s broader economy is a bit sluggish, but certain sectors have been booming thanks to record low interest rates and many billions of stimulus dollars from Uncle Sam.