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Placer Ranch, Sac State satellite campus project moving forward

April 06, 2016

Developing Placer County’s Sunset Area is the foundation of the county’s future economic development, and Placer supervisors signaled that a core element of the Sunset Area’s future is very much still in play - the development known as Placer Ranch.

Placer Ranch makes up approximately one third of the undeveloped Sunset Area, which is located in south Placer County, surrounded by the cities of Lincoln, Rocklin and Roseville. Placer Ranch would host a 300-acre satellite campus for California State University - Sacramento as the anchor of a future education and technology district.

County staff provided an update on the planning effort at the April 5 board of supervisors meeting. While the board took no formal action on the project, members showed strong support for county staff pursuing a unique approach, and processing the Placer Ranch plan without a developer identified. Staff will return to present further details on anticipated costs and timelines at the board’s May 3 meeting.

The project’s former developer withdrew its application from the City of Roseville in 2015. Absent a developer to carry the project forward, Placer County will process the project on its own to continue the forward momentum for the Sunset Area overall. The county has received the technical studies prepared for the project by the former developer, giving planners a strong head start, and significantly reducing the workload and costs. The cost to the county of the permitting process will be reimbursed by the project’s eventual developer.

In describing the revolutionary benefits of creating an environment that will have education campuses centered around Sunset including the University of Warwick, California State University, William Jessup University and Sierra College, District 2 Supervisor and Board Chairman Robert Weygandt said, “It clearly would be a transformative vision for Placer County, very much like Hewlett-Packard when they came to town, and Interstate 80 when it got cut through our county, and the railroad before that and the Gold Rush before that.”

In many ways, the Placer Ranch concept is the anchor for development of the rest of the Sunset Area. Investment in infrastructure like utilities and the Placer Parkway are essential to Placer Ranch, but would also serve development throughout the rest of Sunset. Incorporating Placer Ranch into the Sunset Area Master Plan could also secure the parkway’s right-of-way sooner, speeding its construction. Placer Parkway is a planned alternate to Interstate 80 for traffic to Sacramento, connecting Highways 65 and 99, eventually, with the first phase nearly ready for construction.

Combining planning for the Placer Ranch project and the broader Sunset Area offers several other benefits, including efficiency in ensuring better coordination of future land uses at the site.

The Placer Ranch action came as part of a presentation that included an update on the county’s efforts to refresh the Sunset Area Master Plan. Planners are identifying appropriate land uses and infrastructure needs to achieve the county's long-term vision of transforming that area into a hub of economic growth and job creation for the hundreds of thousands of residents who live in south Placer. The next step in the master plan update will be to present a series of land-use alternatives to the board of supervisors by this summer, with a draft plan ready for public review by the end of the year.

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