Letter to the Editor: Explaining alliance intentions
December 8, 2008
I don’t mind the personal attacks by Curt Wegener because the facts about the proposed lane reduction through Kings Beach speak for themselves. The Project is a public transportation project paid for by public funds and ultimately must withstand the highest level of public scrutiny.
The Kings Beach Business and Citizens Alliance is a grassroots organization comprised of residents, property owners, and businesses. About 500 individuals joined half the businesses on Highway 28 in Kings Beach (including the highest volume retail/restaurants) and another 70 small businesses serving the community in a published petition to retain and enhance the four lane alternative.
The release of the Draft EIR occurred in March of 2007. This document first revealed the environmental impacts of reducing the State Highway’s capacity through Kings Beach. While Placer County did not identify a “preferred alternative” in this draft I agree that lane reduction proponents had predetermined the alternative they wanted prior to any publication of the environmental impacts. The EIR is intended to root out environmental consequences to help inform the choice of alternatives.
Any reduction of the State highway’s capacity causes degradations of congestion in the commercial core, traffic diverted through residential neighborhoods, and reduced public transit service. These are well documented in the EIR as “significant, unavoidable, and unmitigable.” But the EIR analysis excludes air quality, noise, scenic and public safety impacts from the 5-10 thousand vehicles a day using residential streets to bypass congestion during the summer. Loss of on-street parking during the peak seasons as required by Caltrans deeply concerns the existing sustainable businesses along the highway.
Placer County staff declared their “preferred alternative” in the final EIR released May 22, 2008. Our legal challenge is about compliance with the law in the choice of alternatives for the project. Placer County made a choice pushed by political pressure from special interests, not by an impartial, rational analysis of the facts tempered by practical reality.