Berg Heights proposal derailed by dogma |

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Berg Heights proposal derailed by dogma

The recent paralysis of the Grass Valley Planning Commission regarding the proposed housing development known as Berg Heights is a glaring example of how our community has become polarized by extremism once again.

It seems that we are stuck in an either/or mindset that prevents us from seeing what is right in front of us. The questions that echo through our community frame this polarization very clearly. “Growth or Environment?” “Housing or Quality of Life?” “Traffic or Trees?” “Creationism or Evolutionism?” These questions are indicators of how we cling to dogma that is unsupported by facts like a security blanket of denial that provides comfort for our growing ignorance.

Each of the questions above is based on the unfounded supposition that the included concepts are mutually exclusive.

We should be thankful that there are members of our community who actively resist this “dogmatization” of their thinking and pursue solutions to the challenges we face without crippling themselves with the either/or mindset. These good folks recognize that it is possible to have solutions to both traffic and housing that complement each other and contribute to a balanced community where opportunity and husbandry are equally valued.

In the last five years, as our community has experienced significant pressure to grow, both from within and without, the challenges of housing and traffic have grown to the point where both need our immediate attention.

We all recognize that our transportation infrastructure is becoming overloaded by increased traffic and that Ridge Road is a potentially sensitive spot due to the high school traffic during the morning and afternoon “rush minutes.” We also recognize that the folks we all depend on to keep our community vital and attractive are being priced out of the housing market by our oil-centric, sprawl-oriented approach to housing production.

Has anyone out there ever been “stuck in traffic” on Ridge Road or been even mildly inconvenienced outside of these brief intervals? Does anyone honestly believe, based on the facts available from traffic studies, that the impact of a 10-acre, 122-unit housing development that provides a clear benefit to the community in relieving the shortage of affordable homes will be the death of all traffic flow in the northeast quadrant of our community?

The traffic count from Nevada Union dwarfs the potential additional trips-per-day due to the proposed development. The NU traffic is concentrated in two short intervals on weekdays during the school year, while the traffic from the proposed development would be spread out evenly throughout the days and weeks of the year. We must remember to refer to the facts when making decisions about the future of our community. We cannot yield to the voices of the few from either extreme who would have us cling to the dogma of denial and be paralyzed and polarized.

Let’s not forget that the best solution to the traffic issues in this part of town is already on the board and is actually at the top of the list for major solutions to be implemented. The Dorsey Drive interchange with Highways 49/20 has been the focus of our citizens who are truly concerned with solutions and not paralyzed by polarization.

If we can open our eyes and our minds to the idea of balance in our community, we will see that there are folks actively working to meet the challenges of housing and traffic that we face. If our minds are open, we may recognize the efforts of our “reasonable majority” and value the outcomes that they seek.

If we can look further into the future than the next Planning Commission or City Council meeting and the personal agendas we wish to pursue there, we might see that the minimal impact of the Berg Heights development on our traffic situation will be more than offset by the benefit of this type of housing to our community. We might also see that a major traffic solution that is currently on the books will further minimize this impact when implemented.


Paul Sieving is a Realtor who lives and works in Grass Valley.