Tussle over Calaveras Community Plans

People up here like democracy. When Calaveras County leaders seven years ago invited the various towns, hamlets and sprawling rural communities to come up with their own plans for future growth and development, lots of them acted on the offer. Hundreds of people came to meetings. And they drafted plans.

Now all that democracy is running into economics and bureaucracy.

The idea was to include those community plans in an update of the larger General Plan that guides future land use and development in the county. But due to a variety of factors, including messy politics, the complexities of state environmental and land use laws, and the high cost of paying for all the work, the General Plan update effort that launched those many years ago is not complete.

That’s a problem because the current General Plan is not legally defensible. So if county officials approve a development based on the current flawed plan, then it could be tied up in court. That makes it hard for investors and/or property owners to move forward with projects. So Calaveras County’s Board of Supervisors is currently leaning toward moving fast to get an adequate plan done, even though that means leaving out the community plans. Including all those community plans and complying with state law that requires them to all be consistent with the new General Plan will take a lot of ┬átime and work. And there may be times when what the communities say they want conflicts with what some individual property owners want.

Making it all more challenging, this is an election year. Michael Oliveira and Mike Borean, the candidates challenging incumbent District 3 Supervisor Merita Callaway, both say they want the community plans included. And the Calaveras Planning Coalition, which includes groups from a number of parts of the county, is also advocating to include the community plans. The Coalition will hold a public presentation and discussion on that topic 2-4 p.m. May 12 in the main Calaveras County Library, 1299 Gold Hunter Road, San Andreas.

So expect a tussle. And pretty much no matter how the tussle resolves, it is likely to further slow the long-awaited completion of the General Plan update.

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