I want to wish everyone happy holidays and hope it is a time of blessed celebration, worship and gatherings of family, friends and loved ones. And while we are in the middle of the end-of-year holidays, I like to look back at the past year and reflect on what’s happened in our community and the region. It’s been a busy year with many, many projects and issues swirling about.
Placer Ranch/Sunset Area Plan: Two of the biggest projects in western Placer County are Placer Ranch and the Sunset Area Plan. The Sunset Area will become the economic driver for not only Placer County, but the region as well, and Placer Ranch will play a key role in this venture.
The Sunset Area is an 8,900-acre area in unincorporated western Placer County and Placer Ranch is 2,213 acres of land entirely within the Sunset Area. We have been working diligently on a Sunset Area plan update. This large tract of mostly undeveloped land is the focus of the county's long-term vision to create and drive the county’s economic engine. Placer Ranch will fit into this regional plan by providing housing and recreation areas, while the Sunset Area will provide high-paying jobs with a mixed use commercial core. Placer County is working to create an area that attracts national companies who will set up shop in warehouses, office complexes and industrial facilities.
Higher Education: Within Placer Ranch are 300 acres dedicated to California State University, Sacramento for a satellite Placer campus. When completed, the school will become an independent CSU campus and projected to employ 5,000 faculty and staff who will support 25,000 students. Sierra College also intends to co- locate a transfer center on the site that will serve an additional 5,000 students. CSU-Sacramento and Sierra College are also presently collaborating on joint credit curriculum opportunities that will assist students to graduate in 4 years.
Couple those two institutions of higher education with William Jessup University nearby in Rocklin and the soon to arrive University of Warwick, and we will have a quartet of higher educational opportunities for our residents and interested students from all over the area. While Warwick looks to build its main campus in the unincorporated area west of the Westpark development in Placer County, it is also seeking to locate its graduate studies program within the city of Roseville, at the former Fire Station on Oak Street. Ultimately these universities will result in an ample pool of well-educated potential employees to hire in the Region.
Placer County Fairgrounds: The Placer County Fairgrounds in Roseville got a new breath of life. Placer Valley Tourism, a local non-profit, is in negotiations to take over fairground operations in 2018, perform upgrades to existing buildings and investigate building an indoor sports complex and event center. The recommendation to move forward with this partnership was the result of two years of meetings by the Fairgrounds Revitalization Committee who did extensive outreach to interested stakeholders and interested parties. I am hopeful that this partnership will be a positive one and that the fairgrounds will become a destination for our residents; a place they can be proud to have in the heart of their city.
Homelessness : Homelessness is a difficult issue because many of those who make up this population suffer from mental illness or substance abuse. However, as a compassionate community, it is our duty to offer help. We have established a temporary shelter in Auburn and we continue to work with our cities for their input and cooperation to assist with the issue. We continue to work with our faith-based and homeless-advocate community partners also, who have done a tremendous job over the years. We will continue to take action to address as much of the root causes of the problem as we possibly can, with the provision of services that focus on the root causes of homelessness, which is a 180 degree turn from the past practice of merely providing shelter and food. However, we all need to come together on this issue, government, business, non-profits and citizens all must contribute to the solution.
Marijuana: With legalization of recreational use of marijuana approved by California voters in November, Placer County is working on an ordinance that could allow limited outdoor cultivation of medical cannabis for personal use. While this has been a controversial issue, Placer County has been working to stay ahead of the issue in order to retain local control.
Drought/Tree Mortality: For residents in my district, four years of drought means water conservation, brown lawns, not washing your car and other such measures. However the drought has caused another massive problem in Placer County: bark beetle infestation and tree mortality. Trees weakened from years of drought are susceptible to bark beetles. Statewide, there are more than 66 million dead and dying trees from the infestation. Removing that many trees is impossible, which has created a very real possibility of catastrophic wildfire. And while there are few affected trees in my district, the effects of a huge wildfire will affect everyone. We are exploring all opportunities to address this issue in a manner that reduces the risk, yet does not add to existing air quality issues.
Martis Valley/Squaw Valley: And speaking of the high country, Placer County has approved two projects on the eastern side of the county. While both the Martis Valley and Squaw Valley projects were very controversial with a lot of very vocal opposition, the board made decisions to approve the projects. Squaw Valley was the location of the 1960 Olympics, but unfortunately, many of the buildings and amenities still have that 60s look. In order to compete with other destination resorts, Squaw needs an update and upgrade. Squaw will serve as an economic driver as the phases are built and marketed to skiers and recreationalists around the world. The Martis project, located between Truckee and Lake Tahoe, will build about 700 luxury homes on the west side of the highway, but will put 6,000 + acres of land into a permanent conservation easement on the east side.
The board of supervisors often makes difficult decisions that we think are in the best immediate and long-term interest of the county. While not always popular with everyone, the decisions we make are part of a vision for an economically sound, environmentally beneficial county.
As you settle into the Holiday Season with family and friends, my family, myself, wife Kim, and son’s Jared and Jakob, wish you and your family a happy and blessed holiday season.
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 email@example.com or by phone at 916-787-8950.