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The key to community planning

Planning is one of the most important components to achieving a sustainable, environmentally sound, prosperous and enjoyable quality of life. The opposite of planning is life by happenstance.

For daily life, happenstance is sometimes fun and exciting. But for a sustained quality lifestyle, a thoughtful and organized approach with long-range community land-use planning is best.

Calaveras County, along with our communities, is currently going through the state mandated General Plan Update. For this process to be successful we have the opportunity to set a course for each of our communities. Our county is fortunate with its Central Sierra location along with our natural beauty and character that make us special. Because of these attributes, people will seek to visit and join our lifestyle.

We can keep our great country character if we recognize the likely growth by properly planning for our future. We are also fortunate to have our communities separated by vast distance of sparsely populated natural open-space. We can keep this environment by planning for the inevitable population growth by keeping the majority of this growth within the already established community centers.

When planning is involved, we have many interests to consider. These interests include our residents, property owners, businesses, environmentalists, developers and government. It is my belief that all of these interests can work together for the common good to achieve a sustainable, prosperous, environmentally sound and enjoyable quality of life.

Placing long-range planning at the forefront of this endeavor is the key to a successful outcome. A long-range planning horizon is considered to be either 30 to 35 years into the future or an anticipated build-out scenario within a specified boundary.

A long-range planning focus will allow us to better manage our resources and air quality, by approaching the analysis and direction in the larger community plan context in lieu of the project by project basis that currently exists.

Other benefits will include diverse residential areas including workforce housing, business vitality, uncongested roads, parks, trails and amenities that enhance our communities.

In addition to better natural resource management by recognizing and planning for growth, we can obtain funds from future development for these needs, if and when it occurs. If for whatever reason additional growth is delayed or doesn’t occur in accordance with the scope of the plan, our communities will have a better foundation for success due to long-range planning.

Let’s move forward together to achieve the best that we can be. Bringing in the bigger picture by long-range planning will assure that we will have a sustainable, prosperous, environmentally sound and enjoyable quality of life both now and in the future.

Dave Haley is a resident of Murphys, President of the Calaveras County Economic Development Company and Vice President – Division Manager of Castle & Cooke, a national real estate developer. Contact him at