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Jack Duran, District 1 Update

District 1 Update August 2015
Jack Duran, Supervisor District 1

The southern end of Placer County is home to most of the county’s population. It’s also where most of the growth is happening. I want to talk about several large projects that are in the works that will change the quality of life, the economic vitality of the region and how people perceive Placer County. 

For many years we’ve been viewed as a bedroom community, a place where people live but don’t necessarily work. There’s also the erroneous perception that we’re a hayseed community, unsophisticated and backwards. All that drivel is quickly changing. We are, and have been, hard at work attracting and securing development, primary wage earner jobs and higher education. Placer County is no longer thought of as a place that’s close to other amenities; it’s a place that has the assets people seek. Our efforts will dictate not only the mien of the area, but a change in the way people view Placer County. 

Placer and Riolo Vineyards 

First I’d like to talk about Placer Vineyards. This is a proposed project that at build-out will hold some 14,000 residential units covering 5,000 acres. The adage that “the devil is in the details” couldn’t be truer than with this project. The project was first approved in 2006 prior to the recession of 2008. As a result, various changes have been made to the specific plan and the fiscal model.  These changes have been the key in changing how developers view working with the county.  

 Construction hasn’t yet begun but the project is well on its way to putting shovels in the ground. In fact there are many details that need resolution before the project can be given the green light. A project this large will invariably affect both adjacent and nearby jurisdictions. When you couple the residential component with plans to build more than 3.5 million square feet of commercial, office and retail space, the larger picture becomes clear. 

While the developments will add to the economic vitality of the entire region by creating more homes and hopefully attracting new businesses, we need to plan for this growth in a smart and sustainable manner. Placer Vineyards has a total of 3,553,081 square feet of retail/office/commercial space planned. That is a lot of commercial space and we need to be mindful that we don’t over-build. 

Another proposed development is Riolo Vineyards. While significantly smaller, with 933 residential units situated on 525 acres, the project is large enough to have an effect on adjoining communities. This project was originally approved in 2009. The specific plan was amended in early 2015. It will include 10 acres of commercial property and the AD-10 lots have been replaced with Agriculture/Open Space land.  Additionally, thanks in part to some innovative thinking, Riolo Vineyards was able to transfer its affordable housing units requirement to Acres of Hope, a homeless women’s’ housing  program near Auburn, so these units could be built and utilized immediately as opposed to being contingent on the building occurring at the Riolo Vineyards project site. 

I believe that the development projects that are submitted for approval have merit and will benefit from the changes and revisions that have been approved first with Placer Vineyards and then with Riolo. If developed properly, these projects will help turn this region into the next Silicon Valley. 

It is therefore incumbent on all affected parties to work together to create a project that engenders a symbiotic relationship. If we can’t all agree, the likelihood of the project succeeding diminishes and we all stand to lose. 

Regional University 

Regional University is a unique 1,157-area project that will provide 600 acres for a university, with the remainder of the land slated for a community development. Earlier this year, the University of Warwick announced that it would be moving forward with the plan to bring a campus to Placer County. This announcement was the culmination of 12 long years of hard work by a lot of people, businesses and elected officials. Having a university like Warwick serves to improve the stature of the County as a place of higher learning and makes it clear to the world that Placer County is a great place to live, work, play and receive a world class education.  Warwick will join William Jessup, Sierra College, Brandman University and potentially a satellite California State University campus. 

California State University-Sacramento 

The California State University, Sacramento campus is looking at locating a satellite campus within a proposed project called Placer Ranch. This project is located on 2,200 acres just north of the city of Roseville and just south of the county’s Sunset Industrial Area. The university itself will occupy roughly 300 acres of the total project with the balance going to a mix of housing, office/commercial, and R & D. CSUS is currently partnering with Sierra College to provide 5 upper level classes on the Sierra College campus in the hopes of getting a jump start on things. While the developer has taken steps to process this project through the city of Roseville, the county presently maintains jurisdiction over the land. Negotiations are currently underway to resolve this matter. 

Sunset Industrial Area 

The Sunset Industrial Area (SIA) Update is currently underway and will play a crucial role in enhancing the developments that will be occurring in West Placer. The SIA area covers 8,900 acres in unincorporated western Placer County, located just west of highway 65 and situated between Lincoln to the north and Roseville to the south. The overall objective of the update is to re-envision and re-brand the area to fully implement the County’s long term vision for the area. What had long been viewed as an area of industrial business, is now being looked at as an area that will attract large mixed-use developments, commercial uses, universities, manufacturing, corporate campuses, and entertainment venues. The plan will examine market conditions, assess existing business retention and expansion, generate an overall economic analysis, develop a new land use diagram and identify infrastructure needs and finance alternatives. 

One of the keys to making all of this growth happen is infrastructure. Development projects require roads, water, electricity, sewer and a host of other backbone needs. These needs come with a price. As such, the county is looking at new ways of financing infrastructure. Cost sharing is also a method we are using to get things done. As it pertains to the Placer and Riolo Vineyards projects it was agreed that the developer would be responsible for constructing neighborhood parks and trails and development occurs. The developer will also pay a fee upon having a permit issued to fund the cost of public facilities. In addition to the backbone infrastructure costs, the county must address the sustainability of the services it provides. These services include public safety, fire service, libraries, road maintenance to name a few. While the cost of providing these services is not decreasing, the goal is to reduce long term maintenance costs for both the County and ultimately the residents of the county. 

Placer County has a lot to offer. We are at the beginning stages of some great projects and opportunities to grow our brand. The potential exists, if we do this properly, for our County to continue to attract families, jobs and businesses to want to work and live here for the foreseeable future. 

As always, it is an honor and a privilege to serve you. I always welcome your feedback and can be reached by e-mail at jduran@placer.ca.gov or by phone at 916-787-8950.

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