In past newsletters we've informed you about the bizarre saga of the Trinitas golf course project. Without any permits or any county approval, a property owner openly ignored Calaveras County planning regulations and constructed an elaborate 18-hole golf course on agricultural land. In response to opposition from neighbors, CSERC, and County officials, the project owner boldly applied for approval to not just keep, but to expand the illegal golf course operation by constructing lodging, an events center, a clubhouse, and even a subdivision. CSERC and project neighbors led a years-long battle that succeeded last spring when Calaveras County supervisors voted 3-2 to deny the application. That action made the golf course fully illegal. Yet instead of complying, the property owner continued to allow golfing in defiance of the county action -- even advertising golf play in area papers.
Frustrated neighbors and CSERC appealed the lack of action by the County to halt the illegal play. As this newsletter goes to press, litigation by the property owner is awaiting a court decision. To date, Calaveras County has failed to take any clear steps to halt the illegal golfing or to create any economic consequences for the blatant violations. Meanwhile, the County's efforts to revise its overall General Plan continue to inch forward slowly, two years after official promises to move quickly to fix the out-dated General Plan.
CSERC has also been intensely engaged in the Bear Valley Village project proposed for Alpine County. That massive project would transform the resort community of Bear Valley into a high-end ski destination. A major new chairlift would extend from town up into the nearby Bear Valley Ski Area and hundreds of new condominiums (mixed with commercial use) would be constructed in the Village area. The project would demolish the current Lodge (at left) and add hundreds of new housing units and numerous new retail businesses.
CSERC has raised concerns that there is no clear mitigation plan for all the greenhouse gas emissions that tens of thousands of vehicles and hundreds of new condominiums would create. We've testified that mitigation measures are also needed for the project's traffic and air quality impacts along Highway 4 in Calaveras County.
In late August, CSERC's director met to negotiate with the developers and to testify at a key hearing before Alpine County officials. Unless changes are made to fully comply with State requirements and to mitigate adequately for the project's environmental impacts, CSERC may end up filing a legal challenge of any county approval of the huge development. CSERC is also commenting on the expansion of the adjacent Bear Valley Ski Area that would add great numbers of additional vehicle trips and create additional cumulative air quality, traffic, and biological impacts.