February 14, 2012




TO: Ted Long, Chairman, and 
 Members of the El Dorado County Local Agency Formation 

FROM: José C. Henríquez, Executive Officer 

PREPARED BY: Erica Sanchez, Policy Analyst 

AGENDA ITEM #8a1: Consider a response to a probable change in the 
Sacramento County General Plan that may affect the 
preservation of agriculture in El Dorado County  

Staff recommends that the Commission receive the following information relating to a failed proposal for a change in the Sacramento County General Plan that would have affected the preservation of agriculture in El Dorado County. Although the proposal has since been denied by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, the Commission may consider submitting a response to the Board opposing the urbanization of lands adjacent to the El Dorado-Sacramento county line. 

Given LAFCO’s responsibility to preserve agricultural and open space resources and to encourage orderly growth within El Dorado County, LAFCO has a role in submitting comments to other governmental agencies contemplating changes which may impact these two aspects of the Commission’s mission.  

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors considered and approved a proposal to open more than 20,000 acres of land to development in its new General Plan. The area included large parcels of agricultural land in the eastern portion of Sacramento County along Jackson Road and east of Grant Line Road. These parcels are within Sacramento County’s urban growth limit and are adjacent to areas already planned for growth with its current General Plan and in SACOG’s Blueprint. This action will not affect El Dorado County and is not an issue of concern to El Dorado LAFCO.
AGENDA ITEM #8a1 Page 2 of 3 March 28, 2007 
Also under consideration, however, was a proposal to include in the Sacramento County General Plan an additional 3,400 acres of undeveloped land for future development along the Sacramento-El Dorado county line. These parcels are located south of White Rock Road between Scott Road and Latrobe Road. The implication is, if this area were to be considered for development by Sacramento County, the landowner would then be free to develop the area to the highest density allowed by the zoning.   According to a Sacramento Bee article dated March 3, 2007 (Attachment A), a representative for Angelo Tsakopoulos (the landowner) cited development of jobs and housing in adjacent El Dorado County as a reason for Sacramento County to build on its side of the border. Prior to final Board consideration, at least one Sacramento County Supervisor stated he was under the impression that there were many plans submitted to the County of El Dorado to develop along the county border and therefore, Sacramento County should coordinate its development with these plans.  However, as noted in the attached map (Attachment B), most of the 3,400 acres abut undeveloped land that is currently under Williamson Act contract. This area south of the Southern Pacific Railroad is used primarily for agricultural production and is not slated for growth by either the El Dorado County General Plan or the SACOG Blueprint. Development has occurred north of this area within the Carson Creek Specific Plan and the areas designated Research and Development and Industrial, however, all development and infrastructure ceases below the railroad tracks. LAFCO staff is not aware of any planned growth that is considered south of that point. In addition, the El Dorado County General Plan calls for the protection of grazing land and limits the minimum size of agricultural parcels to 40 acres. The twelve agricultural parcels in question range from 40 to 495 acres, with a median size of 201 acres.   A General Plan workshop to discuss the matter was held March 14, 2007. Because the hearing occurred before this Commission was able to consider the matter at its March 28, 2007 meeting and take a formal position, LAFCO Executive Officer José Henríquez submitted a letter to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors outlining various concerns to the proposed addition (Attachment C). The letter was intended to highlight the above information so that it may be considered by the Board of Supervisors before making a final decision.  After considering all information, including Mr. Henríquez’s letter and testimony from more than 100 local residents opposing the proposition, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to deny the proposal to include the additional 3,400 acres in the area to be studied for development.  Despite this favorable ruling, staff recommends that the Commission submit a letter formally opposing the urbanization along the county line because opening these additional 3,400 acres up for development would likely cause an adverse affect in neighboring areas of El Dorado County. The El Dorado County General Plan does not plan for development in this portion of the county, and it is staff’s opinion that urban development across the county line would introduce growth-inducing effects. Currently there is no existing infrastructure in the southwest portion of the county and development of the area would first require roads, water and wastewater transmission lines as well as other services that are desired by residential and commercial development. The adjacent portion of land in the southeastern portion of the County is zoned agricultural and approximately 2,593 acres are currently under Williamson Act contract. Of these, approximately 1,102 acres are in a non-renewal status with contracts S:\LAFCO Commission Meetings\2007\07 MARCH 28\Item 8a1 Staff Memo (Change in Sac County General Plan).doc 

AGENDA ITEM #8a1 Page 3 of 3 March 28, 2007 
scheduled to terminate in January of 2008. This expiration, along with the potentially incompatible land uses in Sacramento County, could encourage premature development of these agricultural lands and result in a loss of agricultural production.  

Collision Nears on Growth Proposal: Supervisors to Weigh Tsakopoulos Bid to Transform Rural Area.

March 11, 2007

By Mary Lynne Vellinga, The Sacramento Bee, Calif.
Mar. 11–Along White Rock Road in eastern Sacramento County, pastures abruptly give way to tiled rooftops at the El Dorado County line.
On the Sacramento County side, the scene has changed little in the past century. Cows graze in gently rolling, grass-covered pastures. On the El Dorado side, however, office buildings, houses and retail stores have replaced the cattle.
Developer Angelo K. Tsakopoulos and his partners have spent the past decade accumulating ranches on both sides of the boundary. They control a swath of ranch land that straddles the county line and stretches south from White Rock Road about eight miles, beyond any land contemplated for growth by El Dorado County.
Now, Tsakopoulos is arguing to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors that it ought to take the first step toward urbanization of his property on the Sacramento side of the county line. The justification: the thousands of new homes and jobs in El Dorado and the planned expansion of Folsom into land north of White Rock Road.
Tsakopoulos’ proposal to potentially include 3,400 acres of grazing land in the new Sacramento County plan is the most controversial issue facing the supervisors as they gather Wednesday for a workshop on the general plan, which will serve as a blueprint for growth until 2030.
His land is about four miles outside the urban growth boundary adopted by the board as part of its 1993 general plan. Environmental groups view this line as inviolate and are rallying their members to attend the workshop.
County planners also oppose moving the boundary, as does Supervisor Don Nottoli, whose district includes the land.
In a staff report, the Planning Department says 1.4 miles of Tsakopoulos’ Sacramento County land abuts planned or existing development in El Dorado County. The remaining seven miles border farmland also owned by Tsakopoulos and his partners, which remains zoned for agriculture in the El Dorado general plan.
Tsakopoulos argues that there’s no reason for the county not to include his land in the environmental review being conducted for the general plan. The actual decisions about which land will be opened for building won’t be made until the environmental analysis is done more than a year from now.
“What we’re saying is that it is prudent for the community to examine all of its options,” he said. “If we don’t examine them, we may miss them.”
He calls the eastern edge of Sacramento County “an exceptional location for future growth.”
“Often you hear that we should preserve prime agricultural land; this isn’t agricultural land,” Tsakopoulos said. “It’s grazing land, and it’s the poorest.
“We don’t have any trees. Whatever trees we have will be preserved. We don’t have endangered species. We don’t have the vernal pools you find in other parts of the county. It does not flood,” Tsakopoulos said. “This property is on the boundary of the El Dorado Hills Business Park and Folsom, which have an enormous amount of jobs.”
He held out the possibility that he would set aside significant open space land to offset development. That could help the Sacramento Valley Conservancy accomplish its goal of creating a permanent belt of ranches and oak woodlands connecting its Deer Creek Hills preserve — which abuts the Tsakopoulos land — to the Cosumnes River and the American River Parkway.
Tsakopoulos’ enthusiasm is not shared by environmentalists or government planners. They view the proposal as the first step by an influential developer to put growth where it is inappropriate.
His land, now served by a few rough gravel roads, lacks groundwater to serve potential residents, they say. Miles of ranch land separate most of it from the county’s urbanized portions.
“This is a bad idea, and it really needs to be put to rest now,” said Mike McKeever, executive director of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, the regional transportation agency.
SACOG, made up of all the local governments in the region, hosted more than 5,000 residents at workshops before its 2004 approval of the Blueprint, a regional plan to contain sprawl, revitalize existing neighborhoods, and accommodate growth over the next half century.
“We really don’t need the wasted energy and the political controversy that will ensue from including this on a study list,” McKeever said. “This region has way more important land use and transportation priorities.”
Tsakopoulos took Supervisor Notolli on a drive to show him the property, but he remained skeptical, saying he wasn’t persuaded to vote yes.
Most of the land Tsakopoulos seeks to bring into the urban area is “very rural,” Nottoli said. He said maintaining ranches helps preserve the county’s varied character.
“You’ve got a thriving urban center, you’ve got suburban communities, and then you have rural communities with a strong history,” he said. “I think it’s important to do our best to try to balance that.”
Supervisor Roger Dickinson said he is not inclined to move the growth boundary because it would be expensive for Sacramento County to serve. “For us in Sacramento County, it’s like going to Pluto,” he said. “You sort of wonder why should we spend a lot of time on this when it’s not at all clear how you provide water and other necessities.
“I think what Angelo wants is a chance to be in the game, and then make his argument, thinking he’ll be able to persuade enough people to his point of view,” Dickinson said.
In his nearly 50 years in the development business, Tsakopoulos has played a key role in transforming rural Sacramento into suburban communities such as Elk Grove, Folsom, Roseville, the Pocket, North Natomas and — most recently — Sunrise-Douglas.
Through myriad real estate partnerships, he controls about 40,000 acres in the Sacramento region and neighboring San Joaquin County — far more than any other individual.
Tsakopoulos donates millions of dollars to Democratic candidates on the local, state and national level. Last year, supervisor candidate Jimmie Yee was among the candidates he supported. Tsakopoulos and his family members held a fundraiser for Yee and donated several thousand dollars.
Now in his new supervisor’s role, Yee said last week that Tsakopoulos’ proposal to look at developing along the El Dorado County line might be worth examining in further detail. He was joined by his colleagues Susan Peters and Roberta MacGlashan, making a potential majority on the five-member board.
But Friday, Yee said he was developing doubts about whether the Tsakopoulos land should be included in the environmental review. He said maps published in The Bee showed that most of the land along the county line was slated to remain in agriculture.
“If that is all correct, my feeling right now is I wouldn’t go any farther down than what El Dorado is doing, and even that would be questionable, because Folsom hasn’t even done anything yet on their land south of Highway 50.”
Copyright (c) 2007, The Sacramento Bee, Calif.

Stakes high as developers pressure growth boundaries

By Mary Lynne Vellinga and Stuart Leavenworth
Bee Staff Writers 
(Published April 9, 2000)
Sixth in an occasional series
Seven years ago, Sacramento County supervisors declared a large expanse of the county off-limits to new suburbs. But that hasn't squashed the hopes of land speculators and developers such as Angelo Tsakopoulos, John Reynolds or Enlow Ose.
Since 1997, Tsakopoulos has placed options on 2,800 acres south of Folsom and outside the official growth boundary adopted by the county in 1993.
Reynolds is betting on a tract he bought next to the proposed Lent Ranch shopping mall in Elk Grove, and Ose hopes to cash in on 1,060 acres he owns in North Natomas.
Across the region -- from Sacramento to Placer, Sutter and El Dorado counties -- speculators are placing multimillion-dollar wagers on the region's next phase of growth. They aim to buy low and sell high, and they aren't just leaving the outcome to chance.
In many cases, these developers and speculators are lobbying elected officials to back off their land-use restrictions, extend sewer lines or take other steps that will boost the value of their properties.
"That's the nature of the business," said developer Ose, 75, who has been sitting for 15 years on his North Natomas farmland.
"You have influential developers who promote their interests wherever they own land," said Ose, who has lobbied the regional sanitation district to build the new North Natomas sewage tunnel big enough to accommodate development on his land, which sits outside the growth boundary. "The same thing is going on west of Roseville now, at Deer Creek (in eastern Sacramento County), at Lent Ranch. ... I think it boils down to what politicians are willing to go along with."
Critics say elected officials are going along with far too much. Rampant speculation, they charge, is confounding efforts to plan for growth, adding to problems of traffic congestion, smog, lost open space and overcrowded schools.
In Sacramento County, planners estimate there is enough land within the 1993 growth boundary to accommodate 50 years of growth. But since land is so cheap and available on the region's outskirts, speculators see little incentive to invest in established communities.
Sacramento County Supervisor Illa Collin is one local leader who worries about the clout of various speculators.
"They have the money to give to campaigns, and they also have the ability to shut money off to campaigns," said Collin. "They just have a very powerful influence, and anyone who says they don't isn't really being honest with themselves."
To be sure, land speculation has long been part of the Sacramento landscape. But in recent years -- with the population surging and many farmers getting out of agriculture -- the potential jackpots are growing bigger than ever.
Around Sacramento, agricultural land generally sells for $2,500 to $4,500 an acre, depending on its quality. Land approved for development fetches $75,000 to $80,000 an acre, said local land appraiser Doug Elmore.
Eastern Sacramento County offers a classic example of the modern land grab. Starting in the mid-1980s, investors began snapping up pasture land that rolled south of Folsom and Highway 50, and east of Prairie City Road. Back then, buyers such as Tsakopoulos and C.C. Myers routinely bought land from ranchers for $6,000 to $10,000 an acre.
Then came the recession and the county's growth boundary, which restricted development east of Prairie City Road. Land values dropped to less than $2,000 an acre.
But not for long. Within a few years, Tsakopoulos, his associates, and brother George Tsakopoulos had bought or optioned more than 12 square miles of land. Since then, Folsom has signaled that it plans to eventually annex some of that property, and land prices have returned to about $8,500 an acre.
Environmentalists cite a simple reason for the rising property values in the east county: Developers don't believe supervisors will "hold the line" and stick with the growth boundary.
"Sacramento County historically has been among the worst jurisdictions in terms of upholding plans they've adopted. ... The norm has been that the plans are changed," said Mike Eaton, director of the Nature Conservancy's Cosumnes River Preserve, which has saved thousands of acres of open space in the Cosumnes River watershed.
As a recent example, Eaton cited the way in which county supervisors have backed off from plans to concentrate dense pockets of housing, stores and offices along future transit lines. That provision was once seen as key to improving the region's poor air quality and reducing pressure to gobble up more farmland.
Yet even when the county holds the line, it finds itself outflanked by other local governments that are more responsive to real estate developers, Collin said.
For instance, when the Sacramento County Planning Commission rejected the Lent Ranch Mall, developers Martin Feletto and M&H Realty threw their financial muscle behind the successful incorporation effort in Elk Grove, contributing nearly $32,000 to candidates for the new City Council.
The new council is expected to approve the mall, and that can't come soon enough for speculators such as Reynolds, who spent $2 million on 319 acres south of the mall site two years ago.
"Land next to a shopping center is an awfully good bet," said Reynolds, an East Bay investor whose land is outside of the growth boundary.
In the eastern part of the county, developers are also trying the sidestep the decisions of county supervisors.
Last year, the board rejected Myers' proposal to build Deer Creek Hills, a gated senior community outside the growth boundary north of Rancho Murieta. Now Myers is working to qualify a measure asking voters to move the boundary.
Meanwhile, developers are lobbying members of a regional board -- the Local Agency Formation Commission -- to let Folsom extend its planning authority over 3,584 acres south of Highway 50 that is off-limits to growth.
Lauren Hammond, a Sacramento City Council member who is a LAFCO member, said Angelo Tsakopoulos and his daughter, Eleni, have both contacted her about Folsom's expansion plans.
"I think it is odd," Hammond said. "Why am I getting all the pressure?"
County supervisors, in turn, are now meeting with Folsom leaders to work out a deal that would allow Folsom to expand and still preserve some of the neighboring grassy plains and oak woodlands as open space.
Tsakopoulos, undisputed king of local land investors, is one person who stands to gain the most from these talks. Since fleeing poverty in his native Greece as a teenager, Tsakopoulos, 63, has built a fortune buying properties in the Pocket, Laguna, Folsom, Roseville and North Natomas, winning government approvals, building streets and sewers, and selling lots to home builders.
Tsakopoulos doesn't like the label "speculator," but others say he is a master at knowing when to buy and sell, and at what price.
"He's the biggest. He's the best. He's the guy," said Reynolds, the East Bay developer.
Some environmentalists and rival developers see Tsakopoulos, a leading political donor locally and nationally, in a more negative light. They grumble that he has used his clout and campaign contributions to bypass the planning process, adding to the trend toward leapfrog development.
During the debate on Sacramento County's 1993 general plan, for instance, Tsakopoulos stepped up to the dais and showed the supervisors how they could move the urban services boundary to take in all of an 1,800-acre parcel he owned in the east county rather than a third of it. The line was moved.
Other property in the east county in which Tsakopoulos had an interest was also included. Landowners to the north and south complain that more of their land was excluded from development as a result.
"It was a political move; it wasn't even studied from a rational standpoint," said Cameron Doyel, who represents a group of North Natomas landowners in the unincorporated county whose land was left out of the plan.
In the mid-1980s, Tsakopoulos was at the center of a fund-raising scandal that involved his Laguna development and then-Supervisor William Bryan.
Bryan was fined $290,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for secretly accepting $256,700 -- through a number of intermediaries -- from Tsakopoulos for repayment of a loan. At around the same time, Bryan voted in favor of two of Tsakopoulos' major Laguna projects. Tsakopoulos has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the case, and no charges were ever brought against him.
Tsakopoulos says stories of his political influence have always been overblown. Cogent arguments, rather than political persuasion, won the day in the debate over drawing the 1993 growth boundary line, he said.
"That kind of gossip is unfounded, because what they're suggesting is our political system is corrupt, and that is nonsense," Tsakopoulos said.
Local leaders, he said, realize that new territory must be opened to development to keep housing costs low as the population grows. And he brushes aside claims that the rolling, oak-studded east county, home to hawks and other raptors, is important open space that deserves protection.
"I'm astounded at the myopia of the environmental community," he said. "They should be promoting development in the foothills because it is the area that is the least sensitive. Over there, jack rabbits carry their own lunch. ... There's nothing that's productive."
Even so, Tsakopoulos and other developers haven't shied away from building in Natomas, a floodplain of farms, pastures and wetlands. In North Natomas, environmentalists point to Fisherman Lake as one place where speculators are complicating their goals. Fisherman Lake isn't the prettiest place. A century ago, it connected two natural lakes, but now it's just a wide place in the West Drainage Canal. Yet biologists say it provides some of the most important habitat in North Natomas for the endangered giant garter snake and the Swainson's Hawk, along with many other birds.
A person strolling along the lake can see any number of creatures, including great horned owls, great blue herons, swallows, egrets, moorhens, mallards, a cinnamon teal, coots and red-tailed hawks.
The Natomas Basin Conservancy -- set up by the city to preserve habitat in the area -- has been shopping for land along the lake. Thus far it hasn't been able to pay the steep prices asked by speculators who have control of the land, said John R. Roberts, the group's executive director.
The eastern shore, which is within the city limits and thus eligible for development, is owned by George Tsakopoulos, Angelo's brother. He told the conservancy he would sell -- for $150,000 an acre, Roberts said. On the other side of the lake, outside the urban services boundary, landowners are asking $10,000 an acre, still more than double what the conservancy customarily pays.
Meanwhile, Angelo Tsakopoulos has asked the city of Sacramento to annex 133 acres he owns on the northeast side of the lake, land that now sits outside the county's urban services boundary. He wants to build a gated community with 464 houses surrounding a new artificial lake.
"I assume (the city) will go along with it; it's reasonable," he said of his plan.
For the Sacramento region, battles over land speculation will likely rage for decades, or at least until the next recession. If built, road projects such as the Marysville Bypass and the Placer Parkway will open new lands to development. Decisions on sewer extensions and other infrastructure could determine the expansion of cities from Elk Grove to El Dorado Hills.
Some think the region should accept the inevitable, allow development on the fringe of cities and not cling to growth restrictions that were approved before employment centers sprang up outside of downtown Sacramento.
"The urban services boundary had its usefulness a few decades ago," said Bob Fountain, a retired urban planning professor at California State University, Sacramento. "But it doesn't fit with our current economy, with the way we are growing now."
But environmentalists say the rapid consumption of open space has to be slowed down, and that local officials must be firmer in their resolve.
"Our view is that just because speculators are willing to pay prices that are high for the land considering its zoning and current use, that shouldn't drive policy," said Alta Tura, a member of the Environmental Council of Sacramento. "They're choosing to take the risk, and we don't think that just because they're willing to take the risk it should guarantee land use changes."

From The Mountain Democrat

Report to JPA: Projects mostly on track

Sacramento-Placerville Transportation Corridor JPA

Rackovan reported that on Oct. 11 the Folsom City Council, as one of the members of the Joint Powers Authority, denied the request from El Dorado County to remove rails from a portion of the Rail Corridor in western El Dorado County. The other member agencies are Sacramento County and Regional Transit. Under the JPA’s Reciprocal Use and Funding Agreement, the JPA “shall not transfer any interest in the rail corridor without obtaining prior written consent of the member agencies.”

The Mountain Democrat


Rails and trails once again on county’s front burner

The Mountain Democrat’s No. 10 story of 2011 came roaring back with renewed vigor at Tuesday’s El Dorado County Board of Supervisors meeting. Two agenda items dealing with rails and trails pushed the board discussion and public testimony to nearly 8 p.m.
A license agreement to authorize an excursion train project for five years on the Sacramento-Placerville Transportation Corridor was defeated “as proposed” by the supervisors. The agreement would have included the Joint Powers Authority that “owns” the corridor and the Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad — a non-profit excursion rail organization.
The license agreement proposal was recommended by a majority of the county’s Parks and Recreation Commission. Bob Smart is the commissioner for supervisorial District 3 appointed by Supervisor Jack Sweeney. He has often represented a middle ground between the rails and trails factions and is generally a proponent of compromise. He got some credit for the commission’s endorsement of the license agreement.
On Wednesday, Smart also spoke by phone to the Mountain Democrat and noted that  ”the commission said to the two sides, ‘You get credit for working together’ (on behalf of El Dorado County, not Folsom or Sacramento County, where the excursion train groups are located).”
Supervisor Ron Briggs recommended that the county withdraw from the JPA, which so far has prevented the county from dismantling railroad infrastructure in order to continue development of a multi-use El Dorado Trail from Diamond Springs to the Sacramento County line. His motion never made it to a vote and he characterized it later as a “shoot-first thing.”
Deputy county counsel Paula Frantz reminded the board that “We don’t own the (rail infrastructure) in the corridor; the JPA owns it, and if we withdraw from the JPA we’ll have no control over the use of it… (However), within the scope of your agreements with the JPA, you can say ‘no train.’ That’s within our rights as the easement holder.”
Briggs has led the board in its effort over the past 18 months to extend the trail and limit rail use to approximately nine miles between Missouri Flat Road and Shingle Springs.
“Part of my frustration in the last year and a half is that we’ve had the same meeting four times,” Briggs said in a phone call Wednesday morning. “I viewed the license agreement as an end-run by the train guys,” reiterating a comment he’d made during the meeting.
“I believe the will of this board has been clearly in favor of the trail, and I’m not in favor of further cluttering use of the trail. We’ve voted four-to-one (to keep the trail as the primary use of the corridor), and yet I’m seeing more train proposals. My recommendation to withdraw from the JPA isn’t about the JPA. It’s a message to the train guys to stop with the excursion trains (issue) that are just getting in the way of the trail,” he said at that time.
County Counsel Lou Green followed  on Frantz’s description of the county’s interests and further clarified the issue of the license agreement.
“If you OK the license, they’ll have the right to run a train, and you will have to take that along with whatever else you want to do,” Green explained.
Board Chairman John Knight several times reminded the audience that the  topic at hand was the license agreement and not the merits of rails versus trails.
“Stick to the item. And I’ll jump on anyone who slams the other side,” Knight threatened.
Late in Tuesday’s session, Briggs made the motion to deny the license agreement. He and Supervisor Ray Nutting were outvoted by Supervisors Norma Santiago, Knight and Jack Sweeney. Later, the board unanimously passed Knight’s motion, which rejected the license agreement as written and instead directs county staff to “work with the train people on a ‘Shingle-Up’ project,” Briggs noted by phone.
That refers to the right of way between Shingle Springs and Missouri Flat which the board designated as multi-use including rail use — known generally by the trail advocates as the Shingle Plan or the Shingle Compromise.
Frantz clarified by e-mail Thursday: “The board voted to deny the license as proposed, but send the JPA a potential revision, limiting the excursion rail use within EDC to the area they had identified (e,g, the area between South Shingle and Missouri Flat).”
In a second directive also passed unanimously, “the board voted to have John Knight work with staff to explore the possibility of dissolving the JPA, rather than having the county withdraw while leaving the remainder of the JPA intact,” she explained.
When rails and trails hits the board agenda next is uncertain at this time. But it may repeat as a top story of 2012.
This story falls on page "A1"
Short URL: http://www.mtdemocrat.com/?p=140683

Chris DaleyPosted by  on Jan 26 2012
Last Login: Sun Feb 12 17:55:35 2012
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  2. White Flower Girl
    Well there goes Nutting (clueless) and Briggs (yapper) trying to destroy the historical nature of our county once again.
  3. Funny how Supervisor Briggs characterizes the train license negotiations which have been moving forward since the JPA issued the RFP in January of 2008 as an “end run”, with it’s thousands of man-hours invested and hundreds of pages of communications, plans, and reports, while the barely one year old “Shingle Plan” STILL does not have ANY documentation beyond a two page “concept sheet”!
    No credible finance numbers. No truly defined project timeline. No long term maintenance plan or budget. No guarantees that ANY of the implied promises Friends of El Dorado Trail made to sell this deal will EVER be realized by the community!
    “El Dorado County can do what they want with the tracks!” FALSE
    “The tracks can be removed at NO cost to the County!” FALSE
    “Hundreds of Thousands of dollars worth of track materials can be transferred to the Railroad Park!” FALSE
    “We can just withdraw from the JPA!” FALSE
    It seems that White Flower Girl may have really hit the nail on the head…..
    • Thank you Mr Harville for your post.
      You have spelled it out so simply. Sign of a good man.
      The excursion train would at least bring in tax revenue. A bike/hiking path brings in zip & only costs the County taxpayers money. The right away is large enough for all uses, but the trails people refuse to live & let live alongside an excursion train. The “trail only” people look entirely selfish to me. (my opinion) And then there are the completely corrupt people who want to make money on land that has an attractive hiking trail & no chance of a whistlin’ train blowing through, like it did for generations & generations up until recently. Those Supervisors who are hell bent on killing the excursion train, will face one hell of a time getting re-elected. So if you’re against an excursion train and you’re running for Public Office, get ready to spend a whole lot more on your campaign than you anticipated.
      • On the other hand
        From memory, I believe the cost of co-existing trails/rails is something crazy like $2M per mile and the trails are at least partially subsidized through grants. Trails money can be found on short notice, rails money is more complex including a train and operation costs. Also, there are “spacing” regulations between rails and trails which has driven the either/or conversation.
        It is not so cut and dry with the good and selfish perspective…
        • I can address those concerns directly. Rails WITH Trails project costs are largely determined not only by topography, but by the speed and frequency of the rail traffic. Please refer to the rails-with-trails section of the Rails to Trails Conservancy website for some VERY valuable insights into this issue. While costs can become extreme along a 60 mph mainline, a low speed excursion line has far fewer obstacles. In fact, not only do the trails in Folsom cross the tracks multiple times, there are stretches which run directly adjacent to the tracks, with NO fencing or barriers required at all!
          Regarding the $2M per mile figure, it was driven largely by high end estimates for the most challenging choke points, most of which are in the Shingle Springs to Missouri Flat section. It was then extrapolated for the entire 25 miles to come up with the $50M project cost so often used by Mike Kenison and Friends of El Dorado Trail. Deliberately ignored by Mr. Kenison and others is the fact that much of the contested 17 miles between the county line and Shingle Springs can be completed alongside the tracks at a price very comparable to building ON the railbed, especially when the leveraging effect of volunteerism is taken into account. Remember, the train folks repaired a washout near Latrobe for about $10,000 last spring – the County, on the other hand, has spent over $400,000 recently on a very similar washout in Placerville.
          Let’s address trail and/or rail funding next. The grants you are referring to are almost always MATCHING grants, meaning the County still has to be able to afford to pay huge sums of money for this trail. Make no mistake! The “Free” trail concept you hear of so frequently only refers to “Phase One – Item One” of this proposed project, and has been shown to be completely false. Also keep in mind that “gubmint” money is essentially our taxes returned to us as pennies on the dollar, only after being processed through an elaborate bureaucracy! Not a very efficient model.
          As far as rail funding being complex, nothing could be farther from the truth! The 45 ton locomotive and 53 foot excursion car now standing by for service on this line were donations by the State Railroad Museum, and have been completely restored by local volunteers using private membership dues and donations. The Skagit Motorcar and other light equipment which was used to give over 3000 rides in 2011 is also rarin’ to go for 2012! Operations costs are a function of ridership, and are MORE than covered by the suggested donations for each ride.
          Even capital costs for this particular railroad are quite managable. The reactivation of the White Rock Road grade crossing, which has been fully approved by Sac County and the CPUC, will be completed at minimal cost, due to the dedicated volunteers and supporters committed to the project. The next major capital project will be Latrobe Road, but will not be necessary for another year or so. Plenty of time AND resources for a project that size.
          I hope these facts have helped shed some light on this issue, and that they open people’s minds to the possibility that completion of the El Dorado Trail might actually occur faster AND cheaper working WITH the railroad groups rather than against them!
  4. White Flower Girl
    Thank you Jim, Those tow remind me of a yapping Chiwawa and a big lazy Saint Bernard running as a pack of two.
    Just a wild guess, campaign monies promised somewhere down in the South County? Ie: get rid of the tracks, get nice campaign fund padding?
  5. The Shingle Plan is a great compromise, and will give EDC both a built out train section and train park and an incredible trail connection from Shingle Springs to Folsom. This preserves history and builds something for all to use in EDC. EDC will do what we want with our 2.7 million dollar investment. We will have something for everyone. You are correct that the Shingle Plan is just beginning and it will grow from here.
  6. How, Mike? Details please…
  7. So all the readers understand Mike Kenison is Ray Nuttings trail building advocate appointed to the Trails Advisory Committee on 4-12-11. His intentions are to ax the train and tracks as much as possible. Michael Drobesh comment above outlines perfectly the political perspective. Nutting is the vulnerable supervisor currently up for re-election, I’m guessing Kenison will be working very diligently on his campaign? Maybe he can fund it too.
  8. Ya think Chuck what’s in it for Ray anyway
  9. My guess is he is being pulled very hard from some of the developers in the South county to oppose the rails and insure nice quiet peaceful walking trails will be in place for their future subdivisions. (Just a hunch)
    This mind set surprises me from Ray coming from the logging industry, large rural land owner, and a bit of a history buff.
    To answer your question in plain English, I guess money, and promise of political support?
    • You just used South County and developers in the same sentence. Not really a Pleasant Valley, Somerset, Fair Play, Grizzly, Mt Aukum issue.
      The distant future, potential development lands are much farther west along with some legacy family ranching operations. Maybe you should ask Ray instead of speculating….
  10. Are there any South county developers with any money left? This train/trail issue is starting to become a third rail issue for any local politician.
    It’s fun to watch how they explain their stance on the issue.
  11. FYI, the rails/trails issue is a county wide issue. each supervisor gets a vote. Simple terms, the issue goes beyond each supervisory district.
  12. Very well put Chuck
  13. Very well put Chuck, Ray doesn’t do but for Ray so it’s all about $$$$ as WFG said and it does go way beyond the sole supervisor,
  14. Chuck, you need to talk to Ray instead of speculating here! Chuck, the Shingle Plan preserves 9 miles for trains and the starting points are centered in EDC. This means the Ecomonic Benefits stay here in EDC, if there are any from the trains. Trail Economic Benefits are well know. Just look at the trail on the American River Parkway at millions a year. A connection to ARP and a trail to Shingle Springs, today, not 30 years down the road. What don’t you like about that plan Chuck?
    • Mike, It is about 7.5 miles from the Shingle Springs depot to the end of track just west of Missouri Flat Road, and less than 6 miles from Shingle Springs to the new depot at El Dorado. Where do you come up with 9 miles?
      As far as economic benefits go, exactly what legal mechanism are you using to ensure those benefits stay in EDC? Under your “Shingle Plan” nearly a MILLION DOLLARS of those “benefits” go to an out-of-state contractor who incorporated his business in Nevada so he would not have to comply with the California Non-Profit Integrity Act of 2004. Materials for improvements on the rail line are usually purchased as close to the project as possible, Mike, so tell me again how the “Shingle Plan” helps EDC as compared to developing ALL of the 25 miles of rail in the County?
      You then make reference to the “well known” economic benefits of trails. In the past, you have taken many of your figures from the American River Parkway Financial Needs Study Update of 2006. This study clearly shows that trail construction and maintenance are the largest cost drivers in the Parkway budget, yet one of the least efficient economic benefit generators. The study goes on to show that the river itself is the major economic driver in the Parkway program. The ARP, Lake Tahoe, in fact MOST of the rail/trail examples you have used to tout the economic benefits of trails are centered on a major recreational waterway! There ARE economic benefits to most trails, Mike, it’s just the examples you choose to promote your plan are not representative of the conditions we have on the SPTC.
      You close by saying that your plan offers a connection from the ARP to Shingle Springs “today”. Even allowing for a little poetic license, your claim seems to ignore the reality that EDCs request to the JPA to allow removal of the tracks was denied, and the only option left, a lawsuit, is something the supervisors have repeatedly and forcefully said they will not pursue!
      I can’t speak for Chuck, but it seems that there is PLENTY to not like about your plan!
  15. Perhaps these grounds can be used to generate revenue. There are vast parklands that could host solar arrays. Thin film technology is at the point that it in the short and long term these projects can and will show a profit. As former preservation commissioner here at the county level, beware anybody who touts what history we have preserved. These people are only interested in preserving thier own positions at the public trough. Parks need now to generate revenue and not simply for thier chummy-chum-chums in the local developement communities. Thin film solar arrays on our parklands.
    • Mac, i am very aware of the Solar industry and its lack of financial viability. We need to be very afraid of Solar, mass transit, high speed rail, and the Federal funding of anything! How about a self funded local park or trail!
      • Yes be very afraid of Liberal Big Government projects….unless a conservative repub proposes a colony on the moon! Then it’s OK.
      • …Afraid of Federal funding? Mike, isn’t your Shingle Plan almost entirely dependent on government grants?
  16. What the h… are you talking about…. what part of my proposal is unclear?You will not turn my clear comment into anything other. Your reply is off point.How bout parks and trails self funded with solar arrays What we all need is to be wary of your kind of spinnig of a story. Thin film solar arrays on our parklands.
  17. Who pays for it Mac? That was my point.
  18. Perhaps the monies used for dog parks…or…any of a number of self centered (read crazy} programs kept afloat by such corrupt organisations and departments. I’m sure that your county as well has a plethora of such and its high time to wake up to the fact that scounderals have infiltrated our feel good programs. (read parks depts.,Preservation commissions / planning depts. as welll as a host of others’) Thin film solar arrays on our parklands. Because a specific company has problems does not negate the quality or utility of their products.
  19. Mac, thhe cost of solar is still not there. I know prices have come down signifi antly, but not enough so far. So you are from out of the county? Where do you type from? If you think i am liberal then you are calling it wrong. Fiscal conservative here MAC. Lets balance the budget and cut spending.
  20. Mike, funny you should mention I talk to Ray. I did just that today. One highlight of our discussion would be to allow the rail folks five years to get something together business plan wise.
    As I see it, it would make the most sense to allow the train guys the first opportunity to utilize the tracks. It’s a relatively simple methodology. The track are there. The track, the track bed, etc is there and paid for. With a small investment a rail business could be up and running.
    On the other hand, to build a trail (Class 1) as you seem to insist El Dorado County needs more of, a major project would have to be undertaken. Removal of the tracks, ties, hazardous material, environmental impact reports and so on. I realize you work for corporate America, but you must comprehend these things cost money? A lot of Money.
    Why don’t we do the responsible thing and give the rail guys an opportunity to make it work first?
    • A five year license. What part of the track was he talking about Chuck. It was Shingle up Chuck. You need to understand trains and cost and the fact that they have been at it for 15 years and whats another 5 Chuck? Come on, you would have fired these Folsom guys if they worked for you. We want trains. We can see how it works for 9 miles. They are asking for 25. How long of a ride is 25 Chuck? 5 hours! How long before they rebuild the 25 for big trains Chuck? They used to say 15 years, then it was 10 and now they say 5. Please, you want to have a real conversation about the best use of the corridor, then lets have lunch. I know you have not had the time to sit down on talk about this. I am still willing. You want to here the other side of the story. I listen, do you?
  21. What about trains does Chuck not understand, Mike? You and I have exchanged dozens of posts on this subject, and Chuck has been here from the beginning, listening to both sides. Your last post was gibberish, claiming an understanding of numbers that it is clear YOU don’t comprehend yourself!
    Have the El Dorado Western folks failed because they have been restoring the Shay locomotive for 16 years and are still FAR from finished? Heck No! Have YOU failed because you have been promoting the El Dorado Trail for 15 years and it is still not finished?
    Mike, the RFP for excursion trains was issued in 2008. The restoration of the Whitcomb locomotive is complete and was only started three years ago. The rebuilt signals for White Rock Road will be installed soon, and we have over $10k in private grants pledged to the P&SVRR already this year!
    You have underestimated us from day one, Mike, and virtually EVERY prediction you have ever made about the railroad has been wrong, nearly every claim you have made can be proven false. Why on earth would Chuck believe anything you say?
  22. Solar arrays are a business model that should work. After initial costs the maintanance is minimal.The sun does not rely on present, past or future economic trends. El sol is also impartial to whom it chooses to shine. To bad our counties cannot say the same….business and individuals also tend toward partiality.That is if you truly are concerned about these matters.Thin film solar arrays on our parklands.
  23. Must be something in it for Ray, that’s why he is involved.