Take a stand

Are you tired of watching sprawl overtake the</s> Sacramento region? Are you sick of heavy traffic, dirty air and miles of strip malls? Most of all, are you frustrated by the inability, or unwillingness, of your political leaders to control this helter-skelter growth? Now’s your chance to take the matter into your own hands.

On Nov. 7, residents of Placer and Sacramento counties will have an opportunity to tackle the issue of growth head-on by voting on measures that will have long-lasting impacts in their counties. In Placer County, the fastest-growing part of the region, residents are being asked to support two measures that would enable the purchase of some 75,000 acres of rapidly dwindling open space. In Sacramento County, voters will have an opportunity to turn thumbs down on a massive housing project that twice has been rejected by the Board of Supervisors as being an environmentally damaging leapfrog development.

Measures V and W in Placer County would create the structural and financial underpinnings for Placer Legacy, a program established by the county to oversee the purchase of 75,000 acres of open space over the next three decades. Funding for the program would come from a quarter-cent increase in the county sales tax, which means that the average county resident would pay about $1.25 a month, the price of a good cup of coffee.

For this they would obtain, over the years, miles and miles of open space with trails and regional parks, the satisfaction of knowing that they’ve done the right thing, and higher property values, to boot.

In Sacramento County, some 2,000 acres of open space will disappear, along with several stands of increasingly endangered blue oaks, if Measure M is approved. That’s the measure that would give approval to Deer Creek Hills, developer C. C. Myers’ 3,000-home gated subdivision just north of Rancho Murieta, outside the urban-growth boundary. The measure is on the ballot because Myers, after being rebuffed twice by the supervisors, spent tens of thousands of dollars to pay people to circulate petitions and got voters to sign them by pitching the project as a seniors’ community.

But it is exactly what a seniors’ community should not be—far from existing services and located in an area of especially high levels of air pollution. Staffers at the regional Air Quality Management District were especially concerned, noting that the project would expose thousands of seniors to unhealthful levels of ozone and also could threaten the region’s efforts to comply with federal Clean Air Act requirements. Last week, the AQMD went on record as opposed to Measure O—an extremely rare action for the agency to take.

Yes on Measures V and W, no on O—either way, it’s your chance to take a stand on sprawl.