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Calaveras Planning Coalition Sues County Over General Plan Update

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San Andreas, CA – A local advocacy group has formally filed suit against the Calaveras supervisors and county government over its recently passed General Plan Update (GPU).

As reported here, the Calaveras Planning Coalition (CPC) telegraphed its intentions in a recent letter sent to the County Clerk’s and Counsel’s offices. Each county is required by law to have a GPU on file, which is intended to serve as a constitution and roadmap for local planning and development.

The 145-page petition for a writ of mandate, filed in Calaveras County Superior Court Monday, asserts the GPU is incomplete and in violation of planning law. CPC is also calling for the county to publicly release a 2011 draft GPU version by Mintier-Harnish consultants, for which they were paid over $900,000 before they left the county’s employ. The county’s position is that the plan was no longer relevant since it was revised beyond recognition.

CPC’s petition argues that the county “wrongfully refused to include in the plan feasible measures to mitigate the adverse impacts of new development on both the built and natural environments” in order to protect public health and safety. CPC says it subsequently has been able to amass substantial evidence of multiple California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) violations.

CPC’s filing includes a 20-page, 13-year chronology of the county’s general plan update process from 2006 to 2019 along with “a 22-page primer on the relevant law along with a lengthy and detailed explanation of each alleged violation.”

CPC Facilitator Tom Infusino points out that since 2006, the county has had 17 supervisors and seven planning directors. In CPC’s public release he asserts, “It would not surprise me at all to learn that we have a more accurate chronological record of the GPU process than the county.”

He maintains, “What makes the GPU controversial is not so much what is in the plan but what is missing from the plan after 13 years of work.”

CPC’s position is that the GPU is not lawfully comprehensive because it rescinded without replacement community plans for Ebbetts Pass, Arnold, Avery/Hathaway Pines, Murphys/Douglas Flat, and Valley Springs; also that it lacks specific objectives required for the long-term protection of agricultural lands and for the protection of communities from unreasonable risk of wildfires and floods.

The group criticizes the GPU for indefinitely deferring critical planning for roads, water, sewer, and emergency services, which have since 2008 been consistently identified as key general plan issues by the supervisors and residents in public general plan workshops.

CPC’s filing and associated papers can be reviewed here.

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