Guest Column: Placer Legacy may be last chance for open space
Placer County voters will go to the polls Tuesday to debate Measures V and W.
Would you like to see more trails, improved beach access, enhanced recreation opportunities and environmental improvement projects that improve the clarity of the lake and provide open space? Measures V and W provide funding to help accomplish all those goals and more. It’s not only Lake Tahoe that will benefit from V and W. Improving the Truckee River watershed and providing trails and open space in Martis Valley could all be funded through Measures V and W.
Recently the U.S. Senate passed a $300 million bill to clean up Lake Tahoe. As with most federal programs a local funding component will most likely be required for receiving the funds. With local governments strained to meet current operational needs, Placer County’s participation depends on securing a revenue source to help fund the various environmental improvement projects. Measures V and W could provide that funding.
Measures V and W endorse and fund our Placer Legacy program. Over the past three years, Placer County has studied outstanding open space preservation programs across our nation. A blue-ribbon commission of citizens worked for two years developing Placer Legacy. The program conserves open space, maintains valuable animal habitat, protects watersheds to ensure clean water, preserves farmlands and saves our trails and other recreational amenities. After dozens of public meetings, Placer Legacy now seeks the support of the voters.
To fund the program, Measure W requests a quarter cent sales tax increase. If you bought $100 worth of taxable goods, you’d only pay 25 cents tax for open space preservation. To keep Placer County from becoming another San Jose or Orange County, paying 25 cents on a $100 purchase should be considered an investment that we all are happy to make.
An economic study calculated that the average citizen would pay less than $1.25 per month to help fund Placer Legacy. And out-of-county residents and tourists shopping in Placer County will pay for 37 percent of the program.
There is no free lunch when it comes to open space. Unless the voters pass Measures V and W which dedicate revenues to open space preservation, general county services such as the police protection and road repair will always be funded prior to conserving open space. The only way Placer County can achieve the goals of the Placer Legacy program is to secure an adequate funding source.
Some claim that developers should pay for preserving open space. Placer County has changed the rules to require more open space and recreational amenities with major subdivisions. But these new facilities serve only the new subdivisions and fall far short of any reasonable open space preservation. California state law prohibits the county from forcing new development from paying for needs not created by or required by their development. The only effective way to provide an open space preservation program for all the residents of Placer County is to pass Measure W.
A broad coalition of groups has come together to support Measures V and W: Roseville Chamber of Commerce, Farm Bureau, Granite Bay Community Association, Placer Land Trust, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Foothill Farmers Market just to name a few. And, yes, even some major developers have contributed to the campaign because they realize that subdivisions in close proximity to open space are more profitable.
Voters should ask themselves two simple questions. Would you like Placer County to be more like Marin County, which started its open space program more than 20 years ago, or more like San Jose? Are you willing to spend 25 cents on a $100 purchase to preserve open space in Placer County? As a father who wants to keep Placer County a great place to live and hopes to watch his children raise their children in Placer County, I strongly encourage you to vote yes on V and W.
Rex Bloomfield is the 5th district representative on the Placer County Board of Supervisors. His opinions are not necessarily that of the Sierra Sun.
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