For many years, a small group of individuals who claim to support the voter-approved General Plan have sought to change the plan or obstruct its implementation at every opportunity – through multiple unsuccessful or unconstitutional initiatives, failed recall attempts, and wasteful lawsuits. They freely misrepresent and distort the effect of the 2015 Targeted General Plan Amendment and Zoning Update as an “overhaul” that “gutted” the plan and “densified” the County. That’s total nonsense!

The latest of these bogus allegations surfaced again on social media and in a video from a member of this group, who is also a current candidate for County office. This is nothing more than a dishonest and cynical attempt to frighten and inflame voters.

Once again, we’ll try to set the record straight:

1. The Update did not “overhaul” General Plan land uses.

The General Plan assigns a Land Use Designation (LUD) to every parcel in the county, represented as a color on the land use map. For each LUD (i.e., Commercial, Rural Residential, Agricultural Lands, Industrial), the General Plan defines allowable uses and residential density ranges (i.e., High Density Residential – 1 to 5 units per acre; Low Density Residential – 1 unit per 5 or 10 acres). Zoning consists of a set of regulations to implement the General Plan, such as minimum lot size, building height, setbacks, etc. State law requires zoning to be consistent with the General Plan, and in the case of a conflict, the General Plan always trumps zoning.

Land Use Designations for 99.9% of parcels countywide were UNCHANGED in the Update.  Land use map changes were limited to: 1) Expansion of Ag District boundaries by 17,000 acres (view map here); 2) Conversion of Camino/Pollock Pines Community Region to a Rural Center (view map here); and 3) Administrative Land Use Map corrections for fewer than 160 parcels, see General Plan Land Use Amendment Map and General Plan Amendment Detail/Quad Maps (Bottom of Page)

No other Land Uses were changed.

2. The Update did NOT eliminate agricultural lands.  Agricultural and forestry uses are allowed on over 90% of the 1,000,000+ acres in rural regions, including forested timberland in public and private ownership; 125,000 acres of land within Agricultural Districts, the Agricultural Land (AL) land use designation, and other lands zoned for agriculture, all of which enjoy “right to farm” protections; and nearly all other zones allowed in rural areas, such as Estate Residential (RE) and Rural Lands (RL).

The phony narrative implies that agricultural lands were changed to residential use by referring to a map showing parcels eligible to “opt-in” to agricultural zoning (see Map #1 - Eligible Parcels), and a map illustrating the 700+ owners who accepted the offer of agricultural zoning (see Map #2 - Parcels "Opting-in" to Ag Zoning). The story line suggests that all the parcels shown on Map #1, but not Map #2, are lost agricultural land, probably “converted” to residential use, and the only ag lands left are those shown on Map #2. This is flatly untrue and mischaracterizes what the maps illustrate.

Map #2 does not depict all other lands available for agriculture and forestry, including about 700,000 acres of timberland; 125,000 acres of Ag District, AL land and land that was automatically zoned for agriculture. Moreover, it does not show that the vast majority of all parcels in the rural areas are allowed agricultural uses by right, including grazing, crop production and sales of produce grown onsite.

In their lawsuit challenging the Update, this no growth group argued that owners of land in agricultural production or suitable for production were allowed to passively opt out of agricultural districts. The Court rejected the claim, finding the “evidence cited does not support [the] argument that current land owners are being allowed to passively opt out of agricultural districts in violation of mandatory policies...”

These individuals have often claimed to be defenders of agriculture in El Dorado County. Concerning one of the recent misguided initiatives, the President of the El Dorado County Farm Bureau said: “[These people] do not understand the needs of agriculture in El Dorado County. They do not represent us and they do not speak on our behalf.” We couldn’t have said it better.

For more information, see our report Land Use and Zoning -- Myths, Misconceptions and Misrepresentations