NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Oh the tangles lives we live.

Richard Colombini writes we need to "Just say no to traffic woes," July 18, 2005

Below are a few thought on Mr. Colombini’s Other Voices, which seems to support some development, but not others. Sorry it is such a long post.
Without this crystal clear vision, planning will be chaotic, and we'll wind up with an untidy patch quilt of development that will resemble an unassembled jigsaw puzzle.
Where was Mr. Colombini when the Grass Valley General Plan was written and updated? Is this not the vision for Grass Valley? All the SDA are required to submit a development plan? Does this not provide a vision for the development?
Two of the "big four" developments would depend upon a proposed $55 million (Crestview/Smith) interchange. This would mean more infrastructure, more traffic and eventually, inevitably, probably higher property taxes for all of us to help pay for something we don't want or need.
Let us be real clear, Crestview is a development driven interchange and will be paid for by the developers if they want it to happen in the next 20 years. As Mr. Colombini notes, Dorsey Drive has been in the planning for 20 plus years. The legislative budget cycle is 3 to 5 years, the Caltrans planning cycle is about 7 years, and then it takes 2 to 3 years to build. So if the developers do not pay for the Interchange it will not happen until well after Dorsey Drive is done in 2012, or maybe 2013, or whenever it gets funded.
But the two big, out-of-town developers probably don't care what we want as long as they make a huge profit. They can take the money and run, leaving a big mess behind for us to deal with.
By damming the “two out-of-town” developers, does this elevate the two local developers in the public mind? Are they all not going to make profit, while building much need houses? What keeps the local developers from building a mess and then leaving town, they will not chained to their developments?
Instead, the city should focus upon building the Dorsey interchange at Highway 49 because it is needed to relieve existing traffic problems in the Brunswick basin and Hills Flat area, provides a more direct connection to the hospital, and allows for expansion at Sierra College and Litton Business Park.
Yes, there is certainly some public good in building the Dorsey Interchange. But, it is just coincidence it will also make the Loma Rica development possible.
Why would the city want to create a whole new set of traffic problems when the current problems aren't being adequately addressed? The Dorsey interchange concept has been languishing for 20 years, and it's time to implement it now. With rising construction costs, it's not going to get any cheaper to build in the future, and the fact is, it should have been done years ago.
Right, Dorsey Interchange should have been done a long time ago. But, it is being built with both state funds and mitigation fees. The State funding has been held captive by the Governor to solve a spending problem by the Legislature, who have been overspending social programs demanded by liberals. The mitigation fees have been collected, and will continue to be collected. But, without the planned developments there will never be enough fees to pay off the loans.
. . . we, not the developers, should be making the decisions that determine how we will grow in the future, not the opposite, as seems to be happening at this time with this current administration down at City Hall. This amounts to the tail wagging the dog or the cart pulling the horse.
You know this is a lot of horse puckie. The City of Grass Valley has an open planning process, with multiple public meetings. The Transportation Commission has a open process with multiple opportunities for public comment. The big problem is we rarely hear from the public, until very very late in the planning process, A process they have ignored. Then the late to the table complainers are hurt, when no one listens to them. If letter writers complaining about development and traffic would attend planning meetings, listen, and then speak, we would have fewer uninformed letters to the editor on traffic congestion and development. The whole process would work better.
In another twist, the council wants to relax traffic rules to favor developers. Rather than confront traffic problems, the council is relaxing rules such as the two-second policy in order to mitigate the problem. Relaxing traffic rules amounts to cutting the corners off of a square peg to make it fit into a round hole, or, if you can't win the game, change the rules so you can.
More puckie. The developers have been paying traffic mitigation fees since 2001, to fix the traffic problems, with millions in the bank. Grass Valley business have been paying for stop lights that never get put in. The City of Grass Valley, has create the impression that nothing is being done by not spending the money collected to fix the existing problems. Also, if the City stops development, they stop the flow of mitigation fees paid by developer, thus the need to relax the two-second policy. A policy that was not well though out in the first place. Attend the meetings folks and this information is available.
Clearly , the City Council must learn to say "no" to unwise developments.
I am assuming that Mr. Colombini thinks, the Loma Rica development is wise development, since he supports Dorsey Drive which is required for Loma Rica to go forward? Oh the tangled lives we live.

Taking a page from Mr. Lamphere, a Grass Valley Planning Commission, who often comments on traffic and growth issues in Letters to the Editor, this is a personal comment, and does not reflect my views when sitting on the Transportation Commission. As an at large member, my job is to support the public views on transportation issues.

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