2005: Need for Valley Springs Community Plan Update
Do you know our existing Valley Springs Community Area Plan was written in 1974, over 40 years ago? It still says we have a daily train running through town! Growth and development decisions and changes that affect our community's future have been based on this outdated Community Plan and our outdated Calaveras County General Plan. Past map amendments did nothing to update the vision or direction for growth. Residents need updated plans and sound planning decisions to protect our rural quality of life!
Since December 2005, MyValleySprings.com has worked towards a community plan update for Valley Springs, doing educational and community outreach, sponsoring planning workshops and reports, and looking for funding sources.
Area residents and county supervisors were in support of a community plan update, but county funds and staff time were not available, so MyValleySprings.com searched for other sources of funding. Efforts to find funding for a Valley Springs area community plan update were successful, culminating in the September 2008 award of a $204,648 Caltrans Community-Based Transportation Planning Grant! A local $51,162 match was provided by the Calaveras Council of Governments, which is administering the grant funds. Work on the Valley Springs Community Plan Update started in January 2009!!
To view Valley Springs Community Plan project photos, background maps, FAQ sheet, slideshows and meeting presentations, questionnaire results, and project documents, visit the CCOG Valley Springs Community Plan page on the Calaveras Council of Governments (CCOG) website.
Community Plan project partners and consultants met in January-February 2009 to coordinate. In March-May stakeholder and focus group meetings were held and community area questionnaires were mailed. The public “kickoff” for the Valley Springs Area Community Plan was May 28th-June 2nd 2009. Public participation was high at the three events: 'Opening Community Meeting', 'Community Design Workshop', and ‘Presentation of Plan Concepts'. The design team also hosted four venues with additional public drop-in hours to provide everyone an opportunity to give input and ask questions.
In June and July, stakeholder and focus group meetings continued, giving feedback on presentations, communications and outreach. The fourth public Valley Springs Community Plan workshop ‘Planning for the Future’ was held August 27th, 2009. Design consultants discussed future growth projections, what it means to be in a Community Plan, and presented Community Plan Boundary Alternatives for public discussion and selection. ‘Boundary C’ was the preferred alternative and included Gold Creek, La Contenta, Rancho Calaveras, and other areas. In the fall, further discussions took place about the community plan boundary, and stakeholder meetings continued.
Additional Valley Springs Community Plan update public workshops were held February 23, 25, and 27th, 2010. Attendance was high at community plan meetings, ‘Planning Boundaries and Guiding Principles’, ‘Planning for Valley Springs Future, Land Use and Circulation Maps’, and ‘Open House: View the Maps and give input.’ At the meetings, ‘Boundary B’ was chosen as the preferred community plan boundary (removing Rancho Calaveras and Quail Oaks), handouts were distributed and feedback received on draft Vision and Guiding Principles, and discussions were held on Alternative Draft Land Use and Circulation Maps.
In April, 2010, Valley Springs area residents and landowners participated in a Land Use Questionnaire designed to refine preferences for the community plan diagram. Land use Options were presented and input received. Results were compiled and evaluated, and a “community consensus map” was created, based on over a year’s worth of public input and direction. The Valley Springs Community Plan Update ‘Draft Land Use and Circulation Diagram’ was presented by the CCOG May 4 to the Planning Department and the Board of Supervisors, for use in the county’s General Plan Update.
Later in May, a second map with different boundaries and land use designations was developed by District 1 Supervisor Tofanelli, with the assistance of a steering committee put together to represent interests in the community. This Citizens Committee May 27 map was then presented to the Board of Supervisors on June 1, 2010. Supervisor Tofanelli and the Board accepted both Valley Springs Community Plan Update maps, with the May 27 map being the 'Preferred Map', and the May 4 map being the 'Alternative Map' for use in the county General Plan Update.
Over the next 2 months, Supervisor Tofanelli's Citizens Committee wrote text for a new and separate draft community plan. The Citizens Committee submitted their separate Draft Valley Springs Community Plan to the Board of Supervisors in September, 2010.
CCOG consultants continued to work through the summer of 2010 completing the community-based Consensus Plan administered by the CCOG, based on previous input from more than a thousand community members. On August 24, the Public Review Draft Valley Springs Consensus Plan was released for review and comment. A public meeting was held September 15 to present, discuss, and receive comments on the Plan. Written comment letters were responded to and minor revisions to the plan were made in response to questions and comments.
The Final Draft Valley Springs ‘Community-Consensus’ Community Plan was submitted to the Board of Supervisors and Planning Department on October 19, 2010.
Both the "CCOG Community Consensus" and the "Tofanelli Citizens Committee" draft Valley Springs Community Plans were submitted to the County in 2010 for review, to be finalized and included in the Calaveras County General Plan Update. Unfortunately, nothing was done—the two competing Valley Springs community plans sat on the shelf for six years.
The reason? From 2008-2016, there was huge turnover in county leadership and personnel, causing major delays and confusion to both the GPU and the VSCP.
This constant turnover and lack of consistent leadership led to confusion, inconsistency, and an eventual change in direction of the GPU.
In fact, in early 2014, interim planning director Harrington decided that it would be easier and faster to leave ALL community plans out of the general plan update. So in the December 2014 Draft General Plan, community plans were left out entirely!! Public outcry followed its release, and the County partially retracted the decision. In June 2015, the Board of Supervisors gave direction to include "easy", completed, non-controversial community plans, leaving the rest in a "parking garage."
This left many community plans in limbo, including the Valley Springs Community Plan. MyValleySprings.com continued to advocate for VSCP inclusion. In June 2015, we met with County Planning and the D1-Valley Springs supervisor to suggest a way to achieve a "compromise" of the two community plans. But for another twelve months, nothing happened.
On July 14, 2016, during discussion of the draft Community Plan Element of the General Plan Update, MyValleySprings.com asked the Planning Commission to consider including a "compromise" Valley Springs Community Plan in the General Plan Update (Planning Commission July 14, Part 1 at 17 min. in). MVS told commissioners that some work had been started to "combine" the two community plans. The Planning Commission then discussed & gave direction for the community to work towards bringing the text of the two plans together in a "compromise", and for Planning Director Maurer to try to include the Valley Springs Community Plan "compromise" in the General Plan (Planning Commission July 14, Part 2 at 47 min. in).
Click here for Part 1 of the July 14, 2016 Planning Commission meeting (GPU Community Plan Element)
In August, 2016, the Planning Commission began review of the Calaveras County General Plan Update Draft Land Use Map, which included the Valley Springs Community Area. All requests for land use map changes by property owners and the public were considered by commissioners and many changes were made. The draft map was finalized in September. On October 4, 2016, the Board of Supervisors approved the Planning Commission Recommended Draft General Plan Land Use Map for use in preparation of the EIR.
2016 BOS-approved Valley Springs Community Area Map
In September, 2016, MyValleySprings.com provided draft text for a "combined" Valley Springs Community Plan Blend Draft to the Planning Department that had NO editing of the combined goals, policies, and implementation programs from the two community plans. In late November, MyValleySprings.com met with both the Planning Director and Supervisor-Elect Tofanelli to review the Valley Springs Community Plan Blend draft document. Planning Director Maurer agreed to review, edit, condense, and blend the text from the two community plans.
In January, 2017, Director Maurer produced a draft combined Valley Springs section for the Community Plan Element of the General Plan Update. He scheduled a Planning Commission hearing on the draft for January 26. At the meeting, the draft section was pulled from the agenda to allow more time for public review. On March 9, 2017, the Planning Commission restated their support for moving the Valley Springs Community Plan forward soon, to try to incorporate it into the General Plan EIR. Click here to read the January 26, 2017 Staff Report for the General Plan Update - Community Planning Element, Valley Springs Community Plan
Since January 2017, no progress has been made on the community plan. The Valley Springs Community Plan remains abandoned and ignored by the County and the Supervisor. The Calaveras County Draft General Plan EIR, released in 2018, includes NO Valley Springs Community Plan. The Board of Supervisors Final Draft General Plan, July 31, 2019, includes NO VALLEY SPRINGS COMMUNITY PLAN.
On November 12, 2019, the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors adopted a new County-wide General Plan, which rescinded ALL existing community plans. Despite years of hard work by local residents drafting, completing, and submitting multiple community plan updates to the County, Valley Springs was given NO replacement community plan. Valley Springs has gone from an old, outdated plan to NO COMMUNITY PLAN AT ALL.
The Board of Supervisors said replacing the Valley Springs Community Plan would be a planning priority, but there is no commitment. A small "town hall" meeting was held; and Valley Springs Community Plan draft documents are now posted on a "Valley Springs Proposed Community Plan" Special Projects web page with an email to provide public comments, VSCPcomments@co.calaveras.ca.us .
Read the following commentaries for more information:
"Valley Springs Community Plan Redux – Here We Go Again" (Commentary by Muriel Zeller, the Skull Survey, November 27, 2019)
"Will the 1974 Valley Springs Community Plan, revoked Nov. 12 by county supervisors, ever be replaced?" (Letter to the Editor by Colleen Platt, MyValleySprings.com, Calaveras Enterprise, November 20, 2019).
Six months after eliminating the Valley Springs Community Plan from the 2019 Calaveras County General Plan, the County moved to put something back in. On May 13, 2020, The Valley Springs News published this Calaveras County Public Notice: Valley Springs Community section in the Community Planning Element of the General Plan *60 days to provide comments*
"The Planning Department will be moving forward with including a Valley Springs section in the Community Planning Element of the General Plan. A draft of the proposed amendment has been available for public comment since November 2019. All comments should be submitted within the next 60 days. A hearing before the Planning Commission will be scheduled in July to consider the proposed General Plan Amendment and make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. The draft may be viewed on the Planning Department website at: https://planning.calaverasgov.us/Projects/Special-Planning-Projects. Written comments may be submitted via the comment link on the website, or to the Planning Director at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to Planning Department, 891 Mountain Ranch Road, San Andreas, CA 95249."
For your information, this Planning Department Recommended Draft Valley Springs Community section, proposed to amend and add to the General Plan, is the same "blended" version first put forth in January, 2017. This proposed "Community section" is a very condensed (3-1/2 page) combination of two very extensive draft Valley Springs Community Plan update documents submitted by area residents to Calaveras County in 2010. The Planning Department draft proposed amendment is a "work in progress." Public input is needed. Public comments on the draft proposed Valley Springs Community section of the General Plan should be submitted to the Planning Department.
A Valley Springs Community Plan public hearing was held at the Planning Commission on August 27, 2020. MyValleySprings.com successfully advocated for the addition of implementation measures to VSCP plan policies. The Planning Commission recommended adoption of the revised plan by the Board of Supervisors. Click here for "Planning Commission Recommended Draft VSCP—August 27, 2020."
After a brief hearing on Tuesday, September 22, 2020, the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to add a Valley Springs Community Plan section & policies to the 2019 Calaveras County General Plan, which had eliminated any community plan for Valley Springs. In written remarks in support of restoring a community plan for Valley Springs, Colleen Platt of MyValleySprings.com explained to the Supervisors, "The Valley Springs Community Plan section & policies currently before you is a 'blended' and condensed version, and includes a broad spectrum of goals and policies from both of the draft plans submitted by community members in 2010." See CPC Press Release.
"The competing plans generated controversy. To address this, the two drafts for Valley Springs were merged." See The Valley Springs News article.
MyValleySpings.com and the community worked for 15 years to update the old Valley Springs Community Plan. We were disappointed when Calaveras County not only ignored both 2010 community plan updates, but eliminated the Valley Springs Community Plan entirely from the 2019 General Plan update. The September 2020 VSCP adopted is not a comprehensive, standalone community plan, as previous plans were, but at least Valley Springs now has some plan v. no plan.
Joyce Techel, President of MyValleySprings.com and Calaveras Planning Coalition member, said, "I'm glad to see the county moving forward with this. As development takes place, some things will be addressed that wouldn't have been addressed if the plan wasn't there. Is it perfect? No, but not much is." See Calaveras Enterprise article.
The 2020 Valley Springs Community Plan section can be found in the amended Community Planning Element of the 2019 Calaveras County General Plan. To read, visit the 2019 Calaveras County General Plan page and click on "K Community Planning Amended 9-22-20.pdf" (see pages 39-43 for Valley Springs Community Plan).
In September 2008, the Calaveras Council of Governments learned their application for a Caltrans Community-Based Transportation Planning Grant to update the Valley Springs Community Plan was successful. The grant project was titled, "Rural Smart Growth: A Community-Based Plan for Valley Springs". Project partners were the Calaveras Council of Governments (COG), MyValleySprings.com, the Local Government Commission, and the Calaveras County Community Development Agency. MVS.com and the LGC wrote the grant proposal. The grant's purpose was to produce a community planning document consistent with the Calaveras County General Plan and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The grant award was $204,648 and CCOG provided a local match of $51,162 for a total project budget of $255,810. CCOG administered the grant funds. The heart of the effort was a highly participatory series of meetings, workshops, and design sessions in which a professional design team (headed by EDAW, Inc.) worked with the public onsite to produce a collaborative plan. The project began in January 2009 and was completed in 2010. The Caltrans Community-Based Transportation Planning project was the culmination of a three-year effort by MVS.com to update the Valley Springs Community Plan.
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