Thursday, July 30, 2015

Latest update on SR 16 relinquishment proposal : Request for Governor Brown's veto

Hello Everyone,

We had a final tally at the Amador County Fair of 336 signatures. That number has been far surpassed by the on-line petition that began on Monday afternoon. As of this morning, in just a day and a half, we have received over 1,000 signatures and the number continues to grow. Along with the signatures, people have also left hundreds of comments - all STRONGLY united against AB 652
These comments and signatures are not confined to residents of affected foothill communities, but are also coming from places beyond, including Rancho Murieta, Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove, Galt, Orangevale, Citrus Heights, the City of Sacramento, and yes, from Wilton, Sloughhouse, Herald, Mather, and other communities in Sacramento County, too.  And, the comments are not confined to the Central California region, but are also coming in from concerned citizens throughout the U.S.

The comments all share similar concerns.  No public input.  No appropriate planning process.  And, no proactive work on the part of elected representatives at the State level in recognition of the serious potential impacts to people's lives and livelihoods.

If you've already sent in a veto request letter from your agency - thank you !  If you haven't, there's still time.  We are currently trying to schedule a meeting with Governor Brown's staff - hopefully before the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing - sometime in mid-to-late August.  I would invite you to read some of the comments on-line from citizens who reside in your jurisdiction to glean additional content for your letters.

Please get in contact if we can help with anything and please keep getting the word out.
Thank you for your help!

John Gedney, Executive Director
Amador County Transportation Commission
117 Valley View Way
Sutter Creek, CA  95685
(209) 267-2282

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Update RE: SR 16 relinquishment proposal - Request for Governor Brown's veto

Hello Everybody,

I'd like to give you an update on the signature drive petition requesting Governor Brown's veto of AB 652.  In just a few days, at last week's Amador County Fair, the petition drive easily garnered HUNDREDS of signatures from people voicing their opposition to the Caltrans plan to relinquish SR 16 to Sacramento County.

If you were unable to sign the petition during the Fair, we have uploaded an electronic version on the ACTC website and respectfully ask for your support (

We are hoping for the opportunity to meet with Governor Brown's legislative staff before AB 652 lands on his desk. We would be extremely grateful for your support if you could provide a letter asking for his veto - a sample letter is available on the ACTC website.  Also, anything you could do to get the word out to inform concerned citizens is greatly appreciated.
Thank you again for your support!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

SR 16 Relinquishment Proposal: Request for Governor Brown's Veto

Hello Everyone,

Thank you for your support for the effort to amend the proposed SR 16 relinquishment legislation (AB 652-Cooley) as we attempt to protect inter-regional travel on this long-standing and historic highway.

Your past support and letters were helpful as the bill made its way through the legislative process.  Unfortunately, despite appeals from California assembly members and senators asking for collaboration, Sacramento County continues to refuse to engage in good-faith negotiations and refuses to consider impacts to interregional travel on this Interregional Roadway System (IRRS) route.  With plans for 55,000 new homes and 15 new traffic signals, it's obvious that there will be significantly more congestion and negative impacts to interregional travel time on this route.

The bill is now scheduled before the Senate Appropriations Committee in August and we expect it will pass.  At that point, it will land on the Governor's desk for his signature.  

We feel there is justification to ask for Governor Brown's veto of the bill in light of Sacramento County's intransigence in the face of numerous appeals for coordination and negotiation.  Further, we feel Caltrans has an obligation (as the only State agency vested with the responsibility) to protect interregional travel on legislatively-mandated IRRS routes.

In its decision to support relinquishment, Caltrans argued that the route "could be best managed at the local level".  But, at the local level, Sacramento County refused to include the word "interregional" in any of the bill's adopted amendments.  We feel that this refusal undermines and invalidates Caltrans argument for relinquishment.

During the Amador County Fair in the next few days, we will be asking fairgoers to support our effort by signing a petition requesting Governor Brown's veto.  Kamps Propane will have a booth on the main avenue and has generously offered to host our display and petition.  The veto request letter is attached below.  

We also respectfully would ask for your support again in the form of another letter from your agency/jurisdiction addressed specifically to Governor Brown asking for his veto.

Please do not hesitate to get in contact if you have any concerns or questions.

Thank you for all of your support with this!

John Gedney, Executive Director
Amador County Transportation Commission
117 Valley View Way
Sutter Creek, CA  95685
(209) 267-2282

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Help stop formula stores like Dollar General in District Three

Dear friends and constituents,

Under our current county codes, "formula retail" stores like Dollar General can generally be built on properties zoned Commercial C-1 in District Three. That includes parts of Volcano, Pioneer, and Buckhorn. The county has no special zoning rules to control the spread of these chain stores, which destroy our community character and threaten locally owned small businesses.

Can you imagine a chain hamburger joint upcountry along Hwy 88? I know I can't, but under our current zoning codes, it would be hard to stop.

District Three clearly needs a "time out" from formula retail stores so the county can consider how and whether they fit our soon-to-be-updated general plan and zoning code. I am introducing an interim urgency ordinance to stop formula retail stores in District Three until the county can carefully consider their impacts. I need your help to pass this ordinance, which requires a 4/5 vote of the Board of Supervisors.

I hope the ordinance will be on the Board of Supervisors agenda for Tuesday, July 28. Please pencil in that date and plan to come to the meeting to support this reasonable measure.

If you have comments or concerns, please contact me at ....

Mail: Supervisor Lynn Morgan
    810 Court Street
    Jackson, CA 95642
Phone:(209) 223-6493


PS. I'll get back to you to confirm details as soon as I can. Meanwhile, please mark the date and also ask your friends in other parts of the county to urge their supervisors to support this ordinance to protect our rural character and locally owned small businesses.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Letter to the Editor: General Development in Buckhorn

Previous years of inaction by the Board of Supervisors have left community leaders and residents with little ability to scrutinize the location of development projects throughout Amador County. If local districts like the upcountry community want to have a public process and involvement in planning decisions, then they will need to persuade the BOS to adopt an updated General Plan, which according to County Planning could happen a year or so from now. For example, without an updated plan, the County without any public discussion could approve a Taco Bell on the commercially zoned corner of Meadow Drive next to the Golf Course, even if it would be better located in an already existing center down the road. This update could be delayed for years, so we should encourage and support all of our Supervisors in their future efforts toward changing this outdated planning policy.

Recent newspaper comments claiming that somehow “certain property owners care more than others” or that “if given the chance, residents could all go and try to help the property owner find a more respectable development” are beside the point.

Before placing blame onto individual property owners or having residents providing wish lists to developers, we should first acknowledge that the BOS has allowed a County-imposed zoning change moratorium to remain in effect for the past 15 years.

This moratorium has directly limited what property owners can do and has caused the overall lack of input and alternative uses.

It is an imperative to update the General Plan. Only then can we ensure a fair, reasonable, transparent process that corresponds with what residents have already stated that they want to see in their community.

Mike Spence

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Guest Commentary: Confessions of an Accidental Farmer

(Appears courtesy of Rick Torgerson, Upcountry News, July 2015, Vol 14, No. 7)
Confessions of an Accidental Farmer
(Guest Column by Susan Bragstad)
Back in 1993 when Stephanie Moreno was one of the Amador County Supervisors, she asked a few of us to meet and discuss the possible creation of a local Farmers Market. “Yes,” we responded, and we were off to organize a market for selling locally grown products. Our small group, headed by Maureen Funk, set out to sell what we grew in the parking lot of the Jackson El Dorado Savings Bank--wondering if anyone would show up. They did! I picked some of my own grapes, and people actually bought them. I thought I needed to participate some way in our future markets.
In the meantime, a local paper printed a story about Calaveras olive oil and I thought, what a great idea--someone here in should do this, since there are old olive groves all over Amador County. I thought I'd talk a farmer into it, and then thought I'll do it myself. Frank Busi and Bob Long located trees and their owners for me, and our Farm Advisor Donna Hershfelt found a commercial press and crew. I designed my label and was ready with Amador Olive Oil for our first year's summer farmers markets.
I started by picking other people's olives for four years, and I think I eventually knew every olive tree in Amador County. One harvest day we were picking at the old Cuneo farm on Climax Road. The property was for sale. Loraine and Bob Long were picking with me and said "Why don't you buy this place?" Eventually, I did. There were originally 170 ancient olive trees, and I planted 230 new trees and built a barn. I now have my wonderful historic farm and have put a conservation easement on it so that it will always be a small farm. A conservation easement means that one gives away their development rights to a land trust, or other nonprofit group, but the property remains in the owner’s hands. I also restored the old farmhouse, and hope others in our rural counties will do the same. I do revisit other trees in the county when my crop isn't adequate. I learn something every year about: drought, irrigation, weather, harvest, milling, bottling, selling, government rules, etc., and am wondering what surprise this next year will bring!
I think all retired people should buy or rent a farm. It doesn't make money, but it’s good exercise and saves farmland. Better yet, young folks should also consider this, and hopefully they can figure out how to create a successful business model.
Our Farmers Markets have expanded to four locations: Sutter Creek on Saturday mornings, Jackson on Sunday mornings, Pine Grove on Wednesday afternoons and Plymouth on Thursday afternoons. I urge the public to attend our markets to purchase extremely fresh, local products. This will help to promote and protect our agricultural heritage, as well as being good places for socializing in our communities. Our markets run from June to October.
For more details visit our Amador Farmers Market website: