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Tracking measurable success on efforts across California to preserve and connect our Parks & Wildlife Corridors



WE POST NEWS THREE WAYS:
1. long detailed stories on blogspot (here!)
2. short messages on Twitter
3. automated news feeds from CA enviro websites in the right-hand column which change frequently and are not archived by our website (that's why we now have a twitter account to permanently capture the memorable feeds)

Friday, February 29, 2008

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Voters Crush Yuba Highlands Development Plans


Measure N Defeated

Thank You For Your Vote
http://www.yubahighlands.info/

Measure N was soundly defeated in Yuba County Feb 5 by a 3 to 1 margin.

The NO on Yuba Highlands Committee thanks you for your vote.


Donations to help pay for costs associated with this referendum would be greatly appreciated. Please mail your check or money order, payable to NO on Yuba Highlands Committee to PO Box 1408, Wheatland CA 95692.

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January 2008

California Oak Report

Yuba County Folly
Last April the California Oak Foundation (COF) advised the Yuba County Board of Supervisors that the Yuba Highlands project, a 5,100 home subdivision, was unlawful because the environmental impact report (EIR) failed to comply with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) oak woodlands mitigation standards. Yuba Highlands is adjacent to the Spenceville Wildlife Refuge and Beale Air Force Base, 20 miles from any services in Yuba or Nevada counties. A major bone of contention is the loss of oaks from widening and paving an existing access road through the Spenceville Wildlife Refuge.

After Yuba Highlands was approved by the supervisors, COF contacted the California Attorney Generals office, which had already requested that Yuba County �reject the EIR� for several deficiencies. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Trankley responded in a letter thanking COF for bringing this oak woodlands violation to the attention of the AG.

COF, the Department of Fish & Game and the AG aren�t Yuba Highlands� only critics. The Sierra Club, Friends of Spenceville and Sierra Foothills Audubon Society filed a lawsuit challenging the adequacy of the EIR. Most recently, the NO On Yuba Highlands Committee easily qualified a referendum on the project for the February 2008 primary election.

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http://www.yubahighlands.org/

The Yuba Highlands project is part of the River Highlands Community Plan approved by the Yuba County Board of Supervisors as part of the 1993 General Plan.

The Yuba Highlands project is situated between Marysville and Grass Valley, in the area south of the town of Smartville and accessible by Hwy 20, Hammonton-Smartville Rd. and Smartville Rd., which ultimately reaches Camp Far West Rd. in southeastern Yuba County. Its western boundary is Beale AFB and the property is part of the former Camp Beale site used during WWII for military exercises and within the cleanup area identified by the federal government for the removal of unexploded ordnance.

The project envisions 5100 homes, a golf course, neighborhood commercial services, and light industrial or office park development. For the most part, all public services in the Plan area still need to be established. The project is adjacent to the Spenceville Wildlife and Recreation Area which is owned by the State of California.

Yuba Highlands
Voter Referendum

Scheduled for the Feb 5th, 2008 ballot

Everyone, including the developer, urge voters to vote NO on Measure N. For more information, visit the
referendum web site at yubahighlands.info

Brief Notes and Updates:

The Yuba County Board of Supervisors approved the Yuba Highlands project in July 2007 after much public input.

Since that time, a group of citizens qualified a referendum for the February 8th ballot. The referendum would overturn the Board's approval of the project.

The Sierra Club, Sierra Foothills Audubon Society and the Friends of Spenceville have challenged the Environmental Impact Report's (EIR) adequacy with a lawsuit. Information about that lawsuit can be obtained by calling Richard Thomas at (530) 265-2666 or by email at info@spenceville.org

http://www.yubahighlands.org/Maps_of_the_Project_Area.html

http://www.yubahighlands.biz/water.htm developer’s website

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About-face on Yuba measure

Highlands developer now pleads for 'no' vote as market turns sour

January 18, 2008
http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/644302.html

Yuba County voters, do Gary Gallelli a favor on Feb. 5: Vote against his housing development.Never mind that the developer has fought for a decade to build the Yuba Highlands – 5,100 suburban-style homes in the oak-shrouded foothills near Beale Air Force Base. And disregard the thousands of dollars he's poured into newspaper and television ads touting the controversial project as an economic savior.Gallelli doesn't want to build it anymore. At least not as proposed on the ballot. "If we win in February, we'll have to spend money on something we no longer believe in," the Rocklin developer said in an interview Thursday. "So, yes, we're asking people to vote 'no.' " Gallelli's emerging campaign against his own campaign is testament to a housing market slump that is hitting the Sacramento area harder than just about anywhere. Gallelli said he'd been pushing so hard for the Highlands, on the ballot as Measure N, that he failed to recognize how sour the market had turned."You never step back to think of the consequences of what you're doing or ask if this still is a good project," Gallelli said. "I guess you could say we were in the heat of battle."Gallelli said that if his measure passes, he would be obligated to build the project as proposed. That means getting right-of-way permits, building roads and making sewer and water improvements. In all, he estimated he'd be on the hook for $4 million to $5 million – a lot of money to invest with the specter of a recession looming.Gallelli isn't abandoning the Highlands. He plans to return later in the year with a scaled-down version featuring fewer homes, smaller lots and less retail.But the vote will go on, said Yuba County Clerk-Recorder Terry Hansen. Her office has already sent ballot sheets off to the printer. Absentee votes are trickling in."You can't call it off this close to an election," she said. "Voters wanted a referendum. So be it."Opponents of the project, one of the most polarizing issues in Yuba County, relished the news."Well, isn't that magnanimous of him?" said a gleeful Mark Augustine, a Loma Rica smart-growth advocate who's battled the Highlands at every turn. He says the Highlands would snarl traffic on Highways 20 and 65 as residents commute to jobs in Roseville or Sacramento."I think this falls under the heading of 'cut your losses and run,' " he said.As proposed on the ballot, the Highlands would transform a vast swath of pastoral grasslands into a bedroom and retirement community of up to 13,000, which would make it larger than Marysville, the county seat. The development site sits on 2,900 acres sandwiched between Beale and the Spenceville Wildlife Refuge, accessible today only by narrow, gravel roads.Yuba County supervisors approved the project in July. But citizens' groups collected more than 3,000 signatures to put the matter to a vote.

Gallelli's shrunken version would reduce the number of homes to 4,000 and make more of them condos and multifamily units. It also drops a controversial proposal to build a road through the wildlife preserve, which fueled a lawsuit by environmentalists.

John Nicoletti, a Yuba County supervisor who has backed the project, praised the revised version as more environmentally sensitive."I think this shows the promoter really listened to concerns of local citizens," he said.Augustine begs to differ."It still doesn't address traffic issues," he said. "It still doesn't make sense to build so far away from existing infrastructure."Gallelli said he plans to talk with Yuba residents about ways to improve the project and hopes to have something built within five to 10 years. In the meantime, he will be e-mailing friends and investors, telling them thanks for your support, but no thanks.

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