With the update of the General Plan last year there was hope that Calaveras County would begin to build communities for people living in the 21st century, but the county remains hopelessly mired in the plans of the previous century.
After just one public meeting in September, the County Planning Commission approved an 800-unit subdivision in the Saddle Creek area of Copperopolis. The county concluded that the project is consistent with the 27-year-old Specific Plan for the Saddle Creek area and the 1986 General Plan. The county decided that any project with an application completed before May of 2019 did not need to conform to the updated General Plan adopted Nov. 12, 2019.
Despite the state’s very low projected growth figures for Calaveras County, in 2013 the Board of Supervisors made it an objective of the General Plan to increase the population of Copperopolis by 20,000. While reducing development capacity in many areas of the county, the 2019 General Plan Update retained substantial new development capacity in the Copperopolis area. Meanwhile, despite regularly canceling Planning Commission meetings for a lack of agenda items, the county has still not made time to adopt a community plan for Copperopolis. The people of Copperopolis have completed two draft community plans since 1992.
The private sector, the non-profit sector, volunteers and residents have been doing their part for Copperopolis for decades while the county’s money, effort and attention have been focused on other things in other places. If the county still intends to add thousands of new residents to Copperopolis then the Board of Supervisors has to make the efforts needed to secure a brighter future for the people of Copperopolis.
Such a dramatic increase in the population of Copperopolis means that the county will have to seek and secure additional grants from the state and the federal government for both infrastructure and resource conservation. So far, the county has refused to make these commitments to infrastructure and resources.
Such a dramatic increase in population means that the county will need to hire additional law enforcement and other staff to cope with the increased workload. To date, the county has refused to commit to hiring additional staff and has failed to make new developments contribute to these staffing efforts.
Such a dramatic increase in population means that the county will have to schedule, monitor, report on, and complete timely impact mitigation programs. To date, the county has refused to make these commitments to mitigate impacts.
Such a dramatic increase in population means that the county should give current residents a meaningful say in the future of Copperopolis. The county has failed to do so repeatedly by refusing to adopt community-generated policies from either of the two plans completed by the Copperopolis community during the 21st century. If the county remains unwilling to make the efforts necessary to support well-planned development in Copperopolis, then the community may wish to reconsider the area’s capacity for additional development.
This litany of county failures and refusals, which is reflected in the 2019 General Plan Update, is part of what forced the Calaveras Planning Coalition to challenge that General Plan Update in court. The Planning Coalition continues to work toward the day when the people of Copperopolis and the entire county will be governed by a body that effectively responds to their needs, that consistently respects their rights, and that promptly honors their efforts to shape the character of their communities.
Tom Infusino is the facilitator of the Calaveras Planning Coalition (CPC). The CPC is a group of community organizations and individuals who seek to balance the conservation of local agricultural, natural and historic resources, with the need to provide jobs, housing, safety, and services. For more information on the CPC go to calaverascap.com.