It took decades, but there’s finally a plan for open land in south Sacramento County

To say the South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan has been a long time coming is a vast understatement.

Two decades after the seeds were first planted, the plan is finally ready for Sacramento County supervisors to consider on Wednesday. They should approve it.

Developers would get a simplified and predictable process for federal and state environmental permits. And conservation groups would get large, interconnected areas of protected habitat, open space and undeveloped farmland.

The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board, 2018

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Hidden money, weaponized disinformation and a dark development

By Scott Thomas Anderson

July 19, 2018

Sacramento News and Review

Who’s behind the leading phone survey and sponsored Facebook campaign that are trying to assuage Folsom residents about a massive attack on open space?

Folsom Ranch, an embattled series of housing developments, is on track to be the largest of its kind in Sacramento County in decades—which means an enormous loss of open space, agricultural land and wildlife habitat.

I scanned the room for reactions and paused at former Mayor Bob Holderness. After leaving his elected post, Holderness became a consultant for prominent developers and then spearheaded the campaign for Measure W, the 2004 ballot initiative for the city to annex the land on its southern border, which would be taken over by Folsom Ranch. Today, Holderness represents Westland Capital Partners, a major developer of Folsom Ranch, as well as AKT Development, a major seller of its land.

His jump from elected leader to special-interest contractor was mirrored by former City Manager Martha Lofgren, who helped prepare the South of 50 project on the taxpayers’ dime until 2006, and is now serving as legal counsel for the New Home Company, one of the project’s main developers. But wait, there’s a three-peat! Former city planner Mike McDougall is now a top-ranking manager for Folsom Ranch.

Similar to The Folsom Way’s story-weaving in The Bee—and the meditative voice-over work on its sky-soaring Facebook video—Holderness discusses the South of 50 project as if it was approved by locals when they passed Measure W. But that vote for the city to take control of the rolling land’s future, instead of leaving that up to the county, nowhere mentioned 11,000 homes and suburban sprawl. In fact, the measure specifically forbade housing without a new, secured water supply, which remains in doubt.

Did Holderness know who was behind The Folsom Way? Before I could think more about it, he stood up and decided to jump into the kerfuffle unfolding in the chambers. Holderness strolled over to the podium. “I’m frankly disappointed to see that two of our planning commissioners don’t have a good understanding of what their role is in our city government,” he said. “Perhaps they didn’t understand their assignment, and that’s unfortunate.”

Commissioner Mallory, who’d just finished arguing that consultants have too much power in the city, glanced wearily up and replied, “You, sir, are one of the consultants.”


Photo by Devon McMindes

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At The Behest of Kamilos Development, Elk Grove City Council Makes Change to SEPA-Swainson’s Hawk Mitigation Policy

June 29, 2018

Elk Grove News.net

In a lengthy presentation and public comment that was followed by a relatively short deliberation period, the Elk Grove City Council approved a change to the environmental impact report for the city’s Southeast Policy Area (SEPA) at their Wednesday, June 27 meeting.

By a unanimous 4 – 0 vote (council member Stephanie Nguyen was absent) the city council changed the manner in which mitigation can be handled for the Swainson’s Hawk. Specifically, at the Behest of Kamilos Development, the city amended the certified EIR so that mitigation land set-aside for the threatened species can be placed on the 4,768-acre Van Vleck Ranch near Rancho Murieta, California, which is further away from the SEPA than initially approved in the SEPA EIR.

Under previous requirements for SEPA projects, the mitigation land was geographically closer. In both cases, the standard replacement continues to be that each acre of lost habitat must be mitigated with one acre of conservancy.

During the staff report from Antonio Ablog, it was noted a review of the change by California Department of Fish and Wildlife highlighted that the new habitat is 18 miles from the SEPA project, which exceeds the recommended distance of 10 miles. Additionally, the CDFW said the new mitigation area on the Van Vleck ranch was lower quality foraging for the hawks.

. . .

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife lists the Swainson’s Hawk as a threatened species. According to the CDFW “the most recognized threat to Swainson’s hawks in the loss of their native foraging and breeding grounds.”

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