A LETTER FROM YOUR DISTRICT 5 SUPERVISOR
Since making my decision on the Hidden Falls Regional Park Trails Expansion Reduced Project, I have received many emails and calls expressing views of either anger or gratitude. While I can’t respond to each person individually, I want to explain my thinking to the people of District 5, and provide some background as to how I arrived at my decision.
Even before I took office, the Hidden Falls Regional Trails Expansion Project has been a very divisive issue. One side supports expansion of protected open space and trails, while the other side remains concerned with safety, traffic, and fire issues in the surrounding neighborhood. Over the last 18 months, both sides have weighed in with hundreds of emails and calls. I was able to tour the site and meet with constituents from all sides of the issue, with staff, with users, and with residents in the surrounding area.
In response to the concerns expressed by the neighbors, the County parks staff proposed a reduced project as a compromise. The reduced project was a 63% reduction in parking spaces and a generally corresponding reduction in traffic and visitation during peak days from the initial proposal. While I believe the technical issues raised were adequately addressed, for some, the concerns and fears about any project remained.
Acquiring land to protect it for public use is a worthwhile effort and so much of the legacy of our nation and our state, is its national, state, regional and local parks. Quality of life is measured by many factors – but parks and open space are one of the most important. Throughout California, as our population swells, pressures for housing continue to mount. Many of our historic large privately-held parcels are disappearing, divided into smaller and smaller properties. Thankfully, Placer County leaders have been working to address these growing pressures. Beginning in 1991, volunteers in Placer County created the non-profit Placer Land Trust “. . . to permanently protect natural and agricultural lands for current and future generations”. To assist in this mission, in 1998 the Board of Supervisors formed Placer Legacy to provide funding and public mechanisms. To date over 12,000 acres of Placer County lands have been permanently protected.
Throughout my campaign, and since taking office, I have been committed to finding balance, especially during these divisive times. I committed to listen to all sides and consider all issues. Ultimately my vote to support the reduced project at Hidden Falls was informed by many, and I believe represented the best balance of all interests. This compromise requires that the many who will benefit from this open space must work diligently to minimize the impacts and issues for the neighbors.
Protecting our future means government, parks users and neighbors must come together. We should respect other points of view and concerns. Government, elected by the majority, can’t forget the impacts to the individuals of its decisions. In this situation, adaptive management must be used to ensure that we adjust to issues and needs as they arise.
A few of the items I raised at the meeting were:
- Using technology, the reservations system and other methods to educate park users on traffic safety, respect for the neighbors, stewardship of the park, and user preparedness
- Requiring reservations more days of the week including full-time if necessary
- Increased rangers and enforcement
- Increased traffic warnings and enforcement
- Continuing the closures on high fire threat days
- Adding more closures if needed
In weighing all of the factors and casting my vote, I emphatically committed that I would stay involved to ensure that the reduced project for Hidden Falls Regional Park, including the Twilight Ride entrance project for 54 auto parking spaces and 20 equestrian trailer spaces would be developed, maintained and operated in a manner to minimize the impacts to those neighbors. [Read Press Release]
While there has been much hard work to date on both sides of the issue, now the really tough work begins – working together, to address the concerns of all interests, to protect Placer County’s future.
– Cindy Gustafson, District 5 Supervisor
175 Fulweiler Ave., Auburn, CA 95603
Supervisor Cindy Gustafson: cindygustafson@
District Director Lindsay Romack: firstname.lastname@example.org
District Aide Kelly McCaughna: kmccaughna@placer.
Temporary Assistant District Aide Judy Friedman: email@example.com.