Placer County Has Accomplished Much in the Last Four Years
Supervisor Jim Holmes
The following is the first installment in a two-part column by Placer County Supervisor Jim Holmes that looks at the county's accomplishments in two critical areas: managing budget challenges and constructing new buildings facilities in North Auburn to accommodate the county's growth and to replace outdated structures.
Placer County has Accomplished Much in the Last Four Years
by Placer County Supervisor Jim Holmes
The start of my second term is a good time to reflect on what the Board of Supervisors accomplished during my first four years on the board.
There have been several accomplishments that include improving traffic circulation and stimulating economic development along Hwy 49 in North Auburn.
The county Redevelopment Agency and Public Works department teamed up on highway improvements last year in support of the Auburn Plaza development, the new 75,000-square-foot shopping center on the east side of Hwy 49 north of Luther Road. The roadway was widened from four to six lanes between Luther and New Airport Road, and traffic signals and turn lanes were installed at the intersection of Hwy. 49 and Hulbert Way.
The construction contract for the public improvements was for slightly less than 84 million. The Hwy. 49 project complements safety and operational improvements made by Caltrans and road-widening improvements funded by Home Depot as part of its development agreement with Placer County. The Redevelopment Agency also has received more than $1.8 million in federal grant funds for public improvements at Rock Creek Plaza, the shopping center on the southeast corner of Hwy 49 and Bell Road that recently underwent a major facelift and expansion. Public improvements here will include widening and reconfiguring Hwy. 49, providing better pathways for bicyclists and pedestrians, and improving public transit shelters. Most of the work is scheduled to be completed this summer.
In the Auburn area, the Redevelopment Agency has several other programs, including commercial and building - facade loans to businesses, a Hwy. 49 beautification project, and financial assistance that helped make affordable homes available to low-income households in North Auburn. The agency also has committed funding to upgrade a sewer-siphon system and lift station that serves much of the Bowman commercial corridor. Construction is scheduled begin this year. The board also worked hard to reduce the risk of devastating wildfires in Placer County. Board members, for example, approved a Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the western slope of the Sierra Nevada in Placer County that assesses fire risks and identifies projects that can help protect local communities from major wildfires. The plan is essential to gaining grant funding for the projects from federal, state and nonprofit agencies. Board members also supported a program that seeks to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires by removing and reusing biomass - organic material such as downed trees, branches and pine needles that wind up on forest floors. Biomass is a resource that can be used for purposes such as generating heat and electricity.
Other board accomplishments include adoption of a new Foresthill Divide Community Plan and an ordinance that seeks to encourage the development of the winery industry. This ordinance establishes development and operational standards for wineries. I want to mention one more accomplishment that is particularly important to me. The Board of Supervisors has worked hard over the last four years to keep the public better informed about what the county is doing, and to listen to the concerns of residents. I pledge to build on this record continue making public outreach a top priority over the next four years.