Shrinking county still eyes growth

By Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat March 18, 2013 08:03 am

PUBLIC MEETING: Calaveras County Board of Supervisors and Calaveras County Planning Commission, 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, special joint session, Government Center, 891 Mountain Ranch Road, San Andreas.

Calaveras County is now shrinking but is planning for an estimated 80,539 more residents in the next 22 years, according to calculations in a staff report on the ongoing General Plan land use guide update released late last week.

The county Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission will conduct a special joint meeting at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in the supervisors’ chambers at Government Center in San Andreas to review the latest draft land use map for the General Plan update.

The county has slipped back below the 45,000 mark it reached at the 2010 U.S. Census, according to population estimates also announced last week. The California Department of Finance anticipates only 10,000 more residents materializing by 2035.

Yet a plan that provides a “carrying capacity” of almost three times as many residents as Calaveras has now is a sharply more conservative one than the existing General Plan, widely panned as outdated, inadequate and legally indefensible. The current document gives a capacity of 277,316 more Calaverans, about seven times today’s population.

The land use map to be discussed Tuesday includes some community centers which have their own “plan within a plan” that were not included in an earlier draft about a year ago. 

Those include Copperopolis, projected to shoulder more than 20 percent of the planned growth in the next 20 years; Valley Springs; San Andreas; and the Supervisorial District 2 community centers of Mokelumne Hill, Glencoe, Mountain Ranch, Paloma, Rail Road Flat, Wilseyville, Sheep Ranch and West Point.

Copperopolis, Arnold, San Andreas and Mokelumne Hill are identified as having the greatest capacity for future growth based on factors such as previously approved development agreements, existing lot configurations and zoning.

Calculations by county planners show as many as 16,654 more people in Copperopolis; 9,376 more in Arnold; 4,699 in San Andreas and 2,502 in Mokelumne Hill in 2035 if all zoning built out to its full potential.

The latest draft map can be viewed at www.co.calaveras.ca.us/cc/Departments/PlanningDepartment/GeneralPlanUpdate.aspx.