On March 29, 2021, the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) filed a Petition for Writ of Mandate with the Sacramento County Superior Court challenging Caltrans’ approval of the Initial Study/Environmental Assessment with a Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND) for a project to widen the Capital City Freeway (SR 51) bridge over the American River.
The IS/MND does not provide adequate environmental review under CEQA, in that it fails to provide an adequate project description and piecemeals environmental review of further planned widening of SR 51. Furthermore, this project may have significant impacts to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and climate change. ECOS seeks a determination from the Superior Court that Caltrans’ approval of the project is invalid and void and that the Mitigated Negative Declaration fails to satisfy the requirements of CEQA Guidelines (Title 14, California Code of Regulations, section 15000 et seq.).
Since 1966, the bridge has had three lanes in each direction…. [read more]
Long-time regional environmental champions Mike Eaton and Charity Kenyon have moved from their Delta home and organic farm to the Bay Area. Mike was President of the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS in 1985-86) and went on to serve as Director of the Cosumnes River Preserve for over a decade. As a parting gift to the region, they have donated to ECOS three original Roman Loranc photographs of the Cosumnes River Preserve with the express understanding that we would sell them and use the money to fund the active lawsuits against Elk Grove (see expanded description of lawsuits at the end). Mike and Charity also gave ECOS three Roman Loranc photographic posters with the same understanding.
Consultation with a gallery in the Delta that sells Roman Loranc’s work indicates that the photos are worth between $1500 and $2000 each, the framed poster is worth $500, and the unframed posters are worth $200 each. The gallery would charge a fairly high premium to sell them. We are hoping to make a direct sale to a buyer without having to dilute the return by using a gallery’s services.
If you are willing to pay $1000.00 or more for one of these original photographs, please contact Alexandra Reagan at office[at]ecosacramento[dot]net. We would also be interested in offers on the posters. The photos and the posters will be at the ECOS office if you want to make an appointment to see them.
These photos were taken with a large format (4 x 5) film camera and were developed by hand by the artist himself. They would be a beautiful addition to anyone’s living space, and they are likely a savvy investment in fine art.
Biography of Roman Loranc
Roman Loranc is a living, modern-day master of fine art black and white photography. He was born in the city of Bielsko-Biala, southwestern Poland, in 1956 during the communist era. In 1982, at 26 years of age, he immigrated to Madison, Wisconsin, and in 1984 he moved from the Midwest to Modesto, California. Much of his early, better-known photographic work was created in California’s Central Valley. He moved to Northern California near Mt. Shasta in 2006 where he currently resides.
Before arriving in the United States he did not have access to the high-quality photographic books that are found so readily in America. What he remembers most about the work he saw in Poland was that it had a general dullness to the prints; so when he first saw original works by the great photographers Ansel Adams, the Westons and Morley Baer, he was in awe of the richness of tone, the depth of the blacks and the glowing light that seemed to come from the prints. He immediately knew that this is what he wanted to produce technically with his own work.
Loranc’s first inspiration as a visual artist came from the paintings of Chelmonski, Stanislawski and Pankiewiz. He was drawn to the richness of their work, their sense of drama and use of light and dark. A painter interprets his subject before it is painted, filtering the scene using his skill and artistic sensibility. This was something that he wanted to achieve with his photography.”
He enjoys photographing meditative things, like tule reeds, when the light is soft and just right for such photography. Such smaller intimate subjects, which are often overlooked because of their commonplace nature, he finds to be quietly expressive. He believes that minimizing what is included in the frame not only helps focus the viewer’s attention, but more clearly conveys the message of the photograph.
“I appreciate that light is a messenger,” he says, “revealing the world at every instant.” “The magic of photography is its ability to slice a moment out of time, which you can later hold as a print in your hands. There are special moments when I know that I have connected with something bigger than myself, when I have focused the camera on the essence of my subject. At that moment I feel a fullness that I cannot describe in words. It is a visual experience, and I can only refer you to my finished print to explain the fascination and connection I feel for the place I have photographed.”
Loranc first began photographing river tules at the Nature Conservancy (Consumnes River Preserve) in Galt, part of the Great Central Valley of California. His aim was to show the subtle beauty of the disappearing wetlands. Many people overlook this beauty because it is not easily accessible, but Loranc likes the idea that this area is being preserved more for wildlife than for people. He hopes that when people see his photographs they will want to help protect and preserve these fragile lands. This is the crucial impetus behind his efforts with the camera.
Today, Roman says he faces different challenges than he did many years ago when he first decided to make fine art photography his vocation. Originally, when he began to work solely on photography, he was challenged by not having a secure source of income. Now his biggest challenge is time. It is the essence of everything in life and how we spend it determines our happiness and personal fulfillment.
The work of Roman Loranc is not digital in any respect. Everything is done by his own hand and the toned, silver-gelatin prints he crafts are the final result. A computer display cannot convey everything that he is able to capture in his prints – not the depth or richness of blacks, the sparkle of the highlights, the subtlety of the tonality. There is a presence one feels when standing in front of a hand-printed photograph, it’s as if one can bear witness to the soul of the photographer. The computer display and the hand-printed silver-gelatin print are not equivalents!
Loranc doesn’t follow the traditional theory that one must have all the shades of gray plus complete black and complete white in order to have a great photograph. Each photograph demands a unique print interpretation in order for it to have voice and be compelling. The only thing all great art, including photographs, has in common is the intense passion of the artist for his or her work. Technical skills must be secondary to the overall impression of the photograph because they are craft and great art is more than technical skill. A great photograph is one that is infused with the artist’s passion.
Roman Loranc photographs with a Linhof 4×5 field camera. A good deal of his work is done with a 210mm Nikkor lens. He only uses Kodak Tri-X film, which he stockpiles in a freezer because he feels uncertain what the availability of film may be in the not-to-distant future. He develops his negatives with the Gordon Hutchings PMK formula from Photographer’s Formulary using a Jobo processor and then prints with Ilford glossy paper which is archivally washed, selenium and sepia toned and then archivally dry mounted. All work is done by the artist.
What Are The Two Lawsuits About?
The first is an effort to overturn a Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo) decision to allow an expanded sphere of influence (SOI) that is the first step for Elk Grove to expand south of its current borders into an area that is invaluable to many of the species that call the Cosumnes River Preserve home. The lower reach of the Cosumnes River floods every seven to ten years inundating large swaths of the Preserve and surrounding areas. Migrants like Sandhill Cranes rely on the important upland habitats south of Elk Grove during these stochastic events, and with climate change and predicted sea level rise the need may be constant. LAFCo made this decision despite the fact that it was clearly evident that there was no demonstrated need for an expanded SOI at this time, and probably not for the next 30 years. LAFCo also completely ignored substantial evidence about the lack of available water.
The second lawsuit challenges Elk Grove’s decision to ignore its Swainson’s Hawk ordinance and allow for mitigation of their Southeast Planning Area to be twenty miles away in an area known to be at the very fringe of the hawk’s usable range in the Central Valley. Essentially Elk Grove wants to allow the destruction of an area that boasts usage by ten pairs of hawks for an area that has only one pair using it. If Elk Grove successfully makes an end run around its Swainson’s hawk ordinance we can expect that they will continue to do so on a regular basis because these mitigation lands are half the price of appropriate lands. Gallery
Part 1: The Photos
Original photograph number 1 – SOLD Description: Photo of a forest at the Cosumnes River Preserve Frame size: 29” x 23” Photo size: 19” x 14 ½”
Original photograph number 2 – SOLD Description: Photo of a foggy forest at the Cosumnes River Preserve Frame size: 22” x 38” Photo size: 16” x 20”
Original photo number 3 Description: Photo of oak trees in water at the Cosumnes River Preserve Frame size: 16” x 20” Photo size: 9 ¼” x 11 ¼”
“This is classic leapfrog development where you are building on green fields instead of brown fields,” said Alexandra Reagan with ECOS.
Reagan says the city should develop existing land within its boundaries. She also says there are 14 impacts that are unavoidable with the project moving forward. They include altering where migratory birds forage and depletion of groundwater resources.
“We feel like those should be addressed before any next steps for planning growth,” Reagan adds.
Sierra Club, ECOS, et al. File Legal Action to Reverse Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) Approval of Expansion of Elk Grove Sphere of Influence
On June 1, 2018, the Environmental Council of Sacramento, Sierra Club, Friends of Swainson’s Hawk, Friends of Stone Lakes Wildlife Refuge and Habitat 2020 filed an action to block Sacramento LAFCo’s approval of an expanded Sphere of Influence for the City of Elk Grove. “Numerous legal errors occurred in the Commission’s consideration and approval on a 4-3 vote of this landowner*-initiated amendment to Elk Grove’s potential boundary. The decision permits previously protected farmland to now be considered for annexation into the City,” said Don Mooney, attorney for the environmental groups. “My clients represent the public interest in curbing sprawl and preserving farmland in this region.”
The Sierra Club, Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) and associates have long maintained that the health and sustainability of the Sacramento region depends upon the preservation of farmland and avoidance of further urban sprawl. “LAFCo has pivoted away from long established regional goals with this approval,” said Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Conservation Chair Sean Wirth,” and we aim to hold them accountable. All of our region’s planning for infrastructure, the Regional Transportation Plan, the South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan, water supply, sanitation, and the Air Quality Plan are based on an Urban Services Boundary that LAFCo pushed aside in its February 7 decision. This blatant disregard for decades of careful planning must be challenged.”
Ralph Propper, President of ECOS, noted that “Although the Sphere of Influence Amendment is just the first step in urbanization —no dirt will be turned soon—, the Environmental Impact Report identified 22 significant and unavoidable impacts from this decision that cannot be mitigated. This is a damaging land use decision that threatens the health of our community.”
Jim Pachl, Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Legal Chair, pointed out that “there are over 4000 vacant acres zoned for new development within the City of Elk Grove, including 1800 acres with residential project approvals that remain unbuilt. Some projects were approved over ten years ago and remain unbuilt. Lent Ranch Mall remains a half-built shell. LAFCo lacks a legitimate reason to allow a conversion of farmland for expansion of Elk Grove’s footprint.”
LAFCo denied a request to reconsider its decision on May 2, setting the stage for the filing of litigation.
*The Sphere of Influence Amendment was sought by landowners of 1,156 acres south of Kammerer Road and west of Highway 99. The applicants are Gerry Kamilos and Martin Feletto.
Lawsuits are pricey! If you would like to provide monetary support for this, you can donate online HERE OR send a check to the Environmental Council of Sacramento, P.O. Box 1526, Sacramento, CA 95812. Please include a notation “for Elk Grove lawsuit” in the memo field of Paypal or your check to ensure that your donation goes to the lawsuit.
Beginning June 17, 2018, SacRT’s Gold Line light rail service to Folsom will be expanded into the late night hours!
ECOS helped bring this about with our Highway 50 HOV lane lawsuit! While we weren’t able to stop extra lanes being added to the freeway, we were able to get the light rail trains that run between Sacramento and Folsom (servicing neighborhoods in between such as the University area, Tahoe Park, College Greens and Rancho Cordova) to run past 7:00 pm! While light rail trains on the Gold Line previously stopped running before 7:00 pm, they will now run until 11:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9:30 p.m. on Sunday!
Ron Alvarado looks over a portion of his Cordova Hills property. (Photo by Randy Pench, Sacramento Bee, 2012.)
This project is classic leapfrog sprawl development with no adjacent development, and lies outside of the recently adopted Sacramento region Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS). The enticement of the major regional amenity of a private university gave the Sacramento County Board of supervisors cover to approve the destruction of some of the finest remaining vernal pools in the Sacramento Valley. However, there is currently no university interested in the site, and there is general consensus that finding such a university is unlikely at best. The Environmental Impact Report only analyzed the “project as proposed” which included the university, ignoring significant additional impacts associated with the “no university” scenario and the mitigations to address them.
On March 1, 2013, ECOS and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit challenging Sacramento County’s approving the Cordova Hills project. You can help support our effort by donating to ECOS’s legal fund (see sidebar).
In May 2014, ClimatePlan covered Cordova Hills in their review of statewide implementation of Sustainable Communities Strategies.