Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Developer protests

Since I've lived in Amador County for 29 years, I know quite a few local people. Some of them are realtors. Two of those folks sent me the e-mail below, which was sent out to every realtor in Amador County. I thought I ought to share it with you.

But first, a little context ... Amador County is updating its general plan, which the courts have called the "Constitution" of a county. General plan updates take time. Three to five years is the norm, and they can take longer.

Amador County is in no way dragging its feet on the plan update. In fact, as a survivor of last year's "General Plan Death March," during which the General Plan Advisory Committee was meeting twice a month, I can attest to the fact that much of the work was being pushed too fast without adequate discussion. The county planning staff made clear that things were being rushed because of pressure from developers. Apparently they were unhappy with the county having placed a moratorium on general plan and zoning changes while the plan update is underway.

That general plan and zoning change moratorium applies only if a landowner wants to change the current designated use of a piece of property -- for example, to change land zoned for agriculture into a subdivision. The county put the moratorium in place so that it could establish a stable environmental baseline for the general plan update. It was not an unreasonable thing to do -- and it was initiated by the county, not by any "special interests."

The e-mail reminds me that local people often forget that Amador County is not isolated from the rest of the state, the country, and the world. In case they haven't noticed, housing is in a huge slump in much of California, including our region.

The economy is a mess. People are being thrown out of their homes at an alarming rate, in part because of unscrupulous lending practice like "NINA loans" -- mortgages written for people with no income and no assets. (I just heard on the radio that California has 9 out of 10 of the highest areas of foreclosure in the state.)

How could anyone think our local economy would not be affected by these larger forces?

As you read the message below, keep in mind that the author is a developer who is planning a project just outside Pine Grove.

Here's the e-mail ...

Amador Realtors:

Re: ECONOMIC STIMULUS concept #2 (General Plan Moritorium)

Just to expand on the subject of "Economic Stimulus", we currently have a moratorium affecting our economy here in our own County. It was intended to provide processing time for the revision and change of the General Plan. The moratorium effectively halts all development and construction on parcels that are not currently zoned in a manner that is compatible to a given desired and needed land use.

The moratorium results in significant negative economic consequences, irrespective of a given communitys need for a good project to come to fruition. If a parcel of land was not previously zoned in a manner that makes sense to current day needs, a great project will consequently be stuck in a rut while the property owner can only wait for the General Plan update process to grind its way through to the end. While it is a certain fact that our General Plan needed to be updated, it surely shouldnt take 3.5 years or more to complete the process. The moratorium wast passed and adopted on November 8, 2005 and was not supposed to last more than three years. Supervisor Richard Forster and Planning Director Susan Grijalva recently stated on TSPN on separate segments something to the effect that the moratorium will continue to the middle of next year. While Ms. Grijalva on the Lets Talk segment, said it could take as much as five years. There is currently nothing in place that puts any form of time limitation on the process.

I realize there are many people working diligently to complete the process. However, I believe there are some people with their own agenda to drag it out down a long agues path.

At last Tuesdays Board of Supervisors meeting we saw contractor and long term resident of Pine Grove Leroy Carlin show his abomination and outrage for the moratorium and how it has affected him and others. I find myself in this same situation with investors who are willing to invest in my own property along with the purchase of my listings, but only if and when the moratorium is over.

It is my belief that the moratorium in Amador County is causing a profound effect on our economy, even more so than the cost of permits and impact fees for the building of a home. I question why such a lengthy amount of time is being taken to update our General Plan? The process just should not take more than a couple of years especially given the current economic status. I remember that nearly three years ago, Supervisor Rich Escamilla voted against having the moratorium and he wanted to just review each project application on its own merits, while the General Plan was being revised in parallel.

Something needs to be done to streamline the remainder of the General Plan update process. I believe we need to call for a speedy end to the moratorium and get the Countys General Plan revised and in place. We need to go back to evaluating each proposed project application on it own merits. A timely end to the moratorium does not take any funds away from the County what-so-ever. In fact, it has already cost the County at least $750,000. Now, is a really bad time to have a moratorium and a timely end to it will promote economic stimulus while also saving the County money.

Sure would like to see standing room only again this Tuesday morn at about 9:20 AM at the Board of Supervisors Chambers, 810 Court Street, Jackson. We need to make our presence known and show our desire for prompt economic stimulus. Please show your support for the cause and bring yourself and a friend.

Below is a TSPN Press Release that shows that our brother and sister Realtors in Calaveras County are fed up with their sluggish economy caused in part by moratoriums and what is said to be an "unrelenting assault on property rights and personal freedoms".

Thats my two cents. Thanks for reading.

Marc Bowman



TSPN Press Release

Controversy In Calaveras Supervisor Race

The constant battle between Hillary and Barack is not the only heated competition for election. Questions have been raised over the intentions of certain groups involved in the
Calaveras County's District 2 Supervisors race. Incumbent Supervisor Steve Wilensky believes the Calaveras County Association of Realtors political action committee is trying to buy his district 2 seat after the committee donated $7,000 to opponent John Morse

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