ECOS, Capital Southeast JPA Reach Agreement on Connector Road

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) and the Joint Powers Authority for the Capital Southeast Connector agreed today to settle a l...

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) and the Joint Powers Authority for the Capital Southeast Connector agreed today to settle a lawsuit filed by ECOS challenging the JPA’s Certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Capital Southeast Connector Project.

The proposed project involves the creation of a 35 mile expressway that follows the southern edge of the Sacramento urban area, connecting Interstate 5 south of Elk Grove with US Highway 50 in El Dorado Hills.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lawsuit, filed in July 2012, asserted that the JPA, among other things, had failed to adequately disclose, analyze and mitigate the proposed road’s growth-inducing impacts. Although the Final EIR for the project had acknowledged that those impacts were, indeed, significant, ECOS maintained that the JPA had failed to include feasible and reasonable mitigation measures addressing them.

“This agreement represents a commitment on the part of the JPA to direct mitigation funds to acquire easements that would preclude development just beyond Sacramento County’s urban service boundary,” ECOS President Jon Ellison said. “This is one of the very few times in our region that a local agency has made a serious and enforceable commitment to mitigate the growth inducing impacts of its project.”

The agreement also requires that access rights to the roadway be secured by local jurisdictions or the JPA itself, and that access points include design features that support only the traffic capacity in current plans. “We are pleased,” Ellison added, “that the JPA has agreed to more clearly commit to a limited access roadway.”

The agreement also provides $300,000 in seed money to the Sacramento Area Council of Governments for the development of a Regional Open Space Strategy, an important component of the Sustainable Communities Strategy SACOG adopted earlier this year.

“We believe that the JPA’s financial support will kick-start a long needed coordinated regional conservation effort”, said Rob Burness, co-chair of the ECOS’ Habitat 2020 sub committee. “This has been a longstanding ECOS goal.” The settlement comes at a time when the California Environmental Quality Act that created the environmental review process is increasingly under challenge. Andy Sawyer, a long-time ECOS leader, has observed many local environmental conflicts. “This settlement yields an outcome that improves the value of the project and better protects the environment. It exemplifies well the benefits that CEQA can provide.”

Once settlement talks got underway, it did not take long to reach a broad level of agreement. Ron Maertz, ECOS Land Use Committee co-chair, said that “it was clear to ECOS negotiators that JPA Executive Director Tom Zlotkowski was concerned about proper mitigation for the growth-inducing impacts of the Connector. Rather than the more contentious hardball normally played in disputes of this nature, both sides worked constructively and creatively to solve the problems addressed by ECOS in its EIR comments.”

To facilitate negotiations, the JPA hired Stacey McKinley as a consultant because of her expertise in regional habitat conservation planning. “Her participation greatly helped drive the negotiations towards a settlement that supports and strengthens the efforts of those habitat conservation plans,” observed Sean Wirth, the ECOS representative on the technical advisory committee of the South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan.

Concludes ECOS President Ellison: “This agreement illustrates the important role ECOS has played and will play in helping to achieve balance between development and conservation in the Sacramento Region by assuring that the state’s pioneering laws to protect our environment and protect public health are obeyed”.

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4 comments

Anonymous said...

Let's see....35 miles, with 35 signalized intersections. Sorry, it's just another gridlocked boulevard which will make developers rich.

Michael Monasky said...

I remain skeptical about this project.
Elk Grove City Council member Patrick Hume owns or controls property along the corridor. He's on the JPA council. That alone is an ethical conflict.
Costs could run towards a billion dollars, not 500 million.
Those costs are driving CEO Zlotkowski to recommend this conduit as a very expensive TOLL road.
Sure, there are improvements that can be made to the Grantline-White Rock Road alignments; but those are already being done.
Who is traveling from Hood-Franklin to El Dorado Hills anyway?
Hume is already drooling over the increased real estate values and business opportunities of properties aligning the corridor along Kammerer Road in Elk Grove.
And, it's part of the Sphere Of Influence (SOI) expansion shenanigans of the EG City Council.
So...ECOS got EG to give a little money to help in the South Area Wildlife Habitat Plan.
Is that the only part of the ecology of the region?
What about all the pollution from mobile sources that contribute so much to our asthma epidemic here in the Central Valley?
Public Health, my eye...

Michael Monasky

Anonymous said...

The Elk Grove City Council has evolved to what can I get away with. Not only should Hume recuse himself; he should be replaced on the JPA because his family owns land in the transition zone.

But those five have never held each other accountable because they all look the over way. Detrick was hopeful but he drank the Council KoolAid., the money corrupted him, he has proven he can be bought, and now his ethics have gone in the toilet because he is making sure his family benefits from tax dollars.

Scherman has been milking the citizens for years and Cooper got his Masters Degree on the backs of the taxpayers at a cost of 19K. How have the taxpayers benefitted from piece of paper? Only Cooper’s paycheck at the County has!

Davis isn’t strong enough to stand up to the wrongdoings of this council because he is Mr. Kum By Ya. He will give new meaning to "Weak Mayor!" Davis has his own agenda so he will rationalize not only the bad but the illegal behavior for his own selfish needs.

Lynn Wheat was our only hope and it appears Elk Grove is destined to be another Bell and when it hits, people will say they are so shocked.

Well, some of us won’t be at all.

Anonymous said...

Does the Hume Family Trust own land in this transition zone or not? This would certainly be a conflict. Can someone substantiate this claim? Whether he, his mother, step father, wife, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, etc owns the land, the Hume family could profit from his decisions on the future of this land. If this is true, he must recuse himself.

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