State attorney general criticizes Martis Valley plan | SierraSun.com

State attorney general criticizes Martis Valley plan

David Bunker, Sierra Sun

The Martis Valley Community Plan (MVCP), which allows for more than 6,000 new homes in the Martis Valley, was approved by the Placer County Board of Supervisors in December, but several environmental groups – headed by Sierra Watch – filed litigation against the plan they say is “a nightmare of traffic, pavement and smog.”

Placer County officials are perplexed by numbers cited in the attorney general’s letter, which they feel have no correlation to the actual plan limits. The attorney general cites 18,000 as the number of new housing units allowed under the plan. The actual zoning of the plan allows 8,600 total residential units, according to the Placer County Planning Department. The letter also says that up to 5.6 million square feet of new commercial space could be constructed.

“That is not a number the county uses,” said Placer County Planning Director Fred Yeager. The number is “not founded in any kind of factual basis,” he added.

Numbers aside, Attorney General Bill Lockyer raises concerns over issues that environmental groups and surrounding governments have repeatedly questioned about the plan. Sierra Watch insists that the project description and environmental review were inadequate. The county relies on ratios of full-time residents to second-home owners to calculate impacts on water and air quality. Sierra Watch says that projections such as these vastly underestimated the environmental effects of the plan.

“Clearly [the letter] confirms the seriousness of this issue,” said Eric Antebi, board member of Sierra Watch and national spokesman for the Sierra Club. “Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area is a national treasure. The attorney general weighing in on this matter is completely appropriate.”

The Town of Truckee has strongly criticized large development proposals under the MVCP that do little to solve the employee and affordable housing problem that they create, according to town officials. The plan’s traffic impacts on Truckee streets are another huge issue that the town council has said is not adequately addressed.

Although the numbers differ, Lockyer’s letter repeats the same issue.

“I believe that the MVCP’s environmental review was deficient, which led to inaccurate analysis and significantly underestimated potential environmental impacts,” wrote Lockyer in the letter.

The letter goes on to say that the Environmental Impact Report was flawed and did not disclose “reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts.”

The environmental groups suing the plan met with Placer County in their first state-mandated settlement talk last Friday, March 11.

Lockyer offered his office’s assistance in working toward a positive settlement to the lawsuit. Placer County is reviewing the letter and had no further response to the attorney general’s comments.

For more information on the Martis Valley Community Plan, check out the archives at http://www.sierrasun.com.