Reaction to general plan causes further delays | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Reaction to general plan causes further delays

Jeff Munson, Tribune city editor

With the general plan five months behind schedule and costs mounting, El Dorado County leaders agreed Tuesday to spend $20,000 in legal fees associated with the plan.

The money will get the planning department through the end of the month before the county adopts its budget. In that budget, about $550,000 is earmarked for the general plan, a countywide road map for building and development through 2025.

Meeting in South Lake Tahoe for their annual visit to the lake, supervisors also received status reports on the South Shore’s BlueGo transportation program, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Environmental Improvement Program and recognized Helen Smith as a 35-year volunteer at Emerald Bay’s Vikingsholm estate.

But it was the general plan that brought at least one Western Slope resident to the basin to ask why the plan has been delayed.

Kimberly Beal, government affairs director for the El Dorado County Association of Realtors, chastised the county for not keeping its schedule, saying the anticipated document has “strayed off track.”

Supervisor Chairwoman Helen Baumann said the delays stem from the 30-day extension of the public comment earlier this summer. The county has received more than 3,600 comments, each of which has to be addressed, Baumann said.

In fact, in one submittal by the Sierra Club there are about 1,000 questions that needed to be answered.

“The extension did not make this clear-cut. It takes time,” Baumann said.

After the meeting, County Counsel Lou Green said there are six staff workers who are assigned to answer questions for the document. The sheer volume has caused the delay.

Since 1997 El Dorado County has spent about $3.1 million on the general plan after the 1996 general plan was adopted but thrown out by a judge because it did not follow environmental protocol.

Green said the plan basically had to be started from scratch, addressing a host of new issues and the environmental impacts.

County planners estimate population growth on the Western Slope as between 53,000 and 81,000 people. New housing units by 2025 are projected to range between 21,434 and 32,491. The population of El Dorado County is roughly 162,586, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

Because planning at the Lake Tahoe Basin is governed by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, El Dorado County projects a growth rate of 0.4 percent annually in the Tahoe basin.

The county has worked side-by-side with TRPA to incorporate its environmental policies into the plan, Green said. Those areas include water quality, recreation, pollution, noise and traffic. It is estimated that between 650 to 770 additional vehicles per day will be on the road by 2025.

In other action, supervisors:

n Delayed action to Sept. 23 on the final draft response on three items pertaining to the 2002-03 grand jury report. The report identified structural modifications needed at the Superior Court buildings in Placerville and Cameron Park.

— Jeff Munson can be reached at jmunson@tahoedailytribune.com


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