LBHA COUNTY INFO PAGE
LBHA Letter and Attachments : County
Public Hearing Process and Rural/ Agricultural Issues
Dear Supervisor Gaines,
you are aware the Loomis Basin Horseman’s Association is concerned that the
goals for preserving the rural/ agricultural land uses stated in the Placer
Legacy project and local Community Plans are being undermined by the current
planning process. We presented our
concerns, illustrated by the Vista Del Lagos project (discussed below), to the
Horseshoe Bar MAC. The Planning Departments’ response in a letter dated
seem to occur at the project evaluation/ implementation stage. The
current planning process often fails to properly characterize and thus resolve
real world agricultural issues. The limitation on crop production (production
plant nurseries), the prohibition of sustainable composting and the unworkable
definition of "pasture" are all examples of past and ongoing
problems. These problems are due to a lack of expertise within the land use
process and resultant project conditions based on unwritten, in-house policies that
preclude the opportunity to analyze the issues and discuss mitigation options.
A good example of these problems occurred recently when staff imposed a condition to prohibit livestock on the revised Vista Del Lagos project without any public notice or discussion. The 14 lot, 50 acre residential/agricultural zoned project is located near Folsom Lake and the Pioneer/Tevis trail system. The original project, of 12 lots, allowed livestock. The livestock were limited them to a 10,000 square foot area on each lot because the project is located in the Folsom Lake watershed. Loomis Basin Horseman’s Association supported the earlier 12 lot project that reduced the area available for livestock and also reduced the number of livestock that is otherwise allowed under the current zoning ordinance.
reviewed the project anew when the developer requested the addition of two
lots. Staff then prohibited the keeping of livestock throughout the entire
project without indicating this change in
the revised project description,
addressing it in the staff memo, nor mentioning it in the public
hearings. The Placer County Department of Agriculture was not informed of
the significant change in the project involving the livestock determination. The prohibition appeared as a project
condition buried in 24 pages of conditions. This
condition directly conflicts with the local Community Plan goals for the
maintenance of the rural character of the area, which states, “The maintenance
of livestock, particularly horses, is an important component of the rural
character of the community.” Nothing in
the record supports the Environmental Health Department’s new conclusion, “The
generation of livestock waste from this activity poses a significant threat to
Folsom Lake water quality.” Yet
staff developed an in-house policy to address this ‘significant threat’ without analyzing the actual impacts, assessing
any possible mitigation options nor presenting it for deliberation by our
elected officials. The process is
seriously flawed and undermines the authority of the Board, when it results in all
the Members of the Board of Supervisors, our elected officials, being denied
the opportunity to publicly decide the best way to implement potentially
conflicting county goals.
The lack of public debate is a result of procedural and substantive errors that cannot be dismissed as simple oversight that only affects one project. As noted above, there has been an ongoing pattern of failures in the planning process that has resulted in undermining efforts to preserve agricultural opportunities available in this County.
goal is to assure that agricultural options, including livestock keeping, that
are otherwise allowed by zoning and Community Plan policies, be supported
through the land use planning process.
Prohibitions need to be by compelling reasons and presented publicly so
that mitigation measures may be discussed.
We request that the Board of
Supervisors consider the following changes to the current planning process:
The Agricultural Department get an
additional staff member (possibly from a transferred position), who reports to
the Agricultural Commissioner, whose function is to participate in the land use
process just as the representatives of environmental health and public works do
now. This technical land use staff person can handle Williamson act
requests, agriculture related complaints, and assist planning staff in, among
other things, evaluating and dealing with transition zones where the rural /
suburban uses often conflict.
The role of this staff person would be:
That projects be evaluated with the existing livestock/ agricultural options in place. Just as staff cannot
negotiate away side yard set backs without following a variance and public
notice requirements, staff and the
project proponent may not enter into private negotiations that result in prohibition
of livestock or any other key component of the zoned district. Note: Residents,
through their homeowner’s association, may then choose to allow or prohibit
livestock throughout the project without further public hearings or County involvement.
3) That the hearing notice forms contain a pre-printed
statement that the project does or does not allow agricultural/ livestock
options that are allowed per the current zoning ordinance.
is our intent to reduce the disparity between what is said and what is done by assuring
the process incorporates needed technical expertise and insisting sensitive
issues be placed squarely in public view for genuine discussion by all
for your time, interest and support thus far in reviewing this matter.
 Vista Del Lagos (SUB 400/CUP 2762) approved 5/02, livestock prohibition discovered 8/03
 The fact that the prohibition is stated in the conditions, is sufficient public notice per the Planning Director. Our contention is that without a corresponding change in the project description it is not sufficient notice and could even be considered misleading. Further, does Planning expect our elected representatives to sift through 20+ pages of a document to find significant changes to a project?
LBHA Home Page
Return to LBHA Home Page
|Updated 02/02/04 - Visitor #|