Paul Matson: Something’s happening here, and it’s not good
February 14, 2017
Coming soon will be a recommendation to the Nevada County LAFCo to slash the size of Nevada City's Sphere of Influence. LAFCo will be making the decision at the Rood Center, 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 23.
I wholeheartedly oppose this recommendation.
What is LAFCo?
Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCo's) were created in 1963 out of concerns for the urban sprawl occurring in California following World War II. Every California county has one. Our commission is made up of two county supervisors, two city council members (which rotate between Grass Valley, Truckee and Nevada City), two special district representatives, and one public member. Each category has one alternate.
As a 23-year city council member and longtime LAFCo Commissioner, this proposal is outrageous, not mandated by law, and should be abandoned in its entirety.
One thing that LAFCo is charged with is the creation of Spheres of Influence for cities. They can approve or deny district boundary changes, city annexations and the creation of cities such as the Town of Truckee's incorporation.
As a city's representative, I served on LAFCo for 15 years including a term as chair during Truckee's incorporation hearings.
What is a Sphere of Influence?
It is the area into which a city might reasonably expand its boundaries through annexation, to provide essential city services such as water, sewer, fire, police and recreation.
Nevada City's current Sphere of Influence is shown on the map included here. The areas in the city's current sphere that lie outside of the city limits are approximately 2,900 acres. SR Jones, LAFCo's executive officer is recommending that the acreage be cut by 1,348 acres.
Both Nevada City and Grass Valley's Spheres were created in 1983 and have served us well. They are based on the areas each could serve with city services, that were in the Deer Creek and Wolf Creek drainages respectively. In this manner, sewage could flow by gravity to each city's sewer treatment plants. That delineating drainage line between the two cities is roughly the ridge line above Ridge Road and Banner Lava Cap Road on Banner Mountain.
There are compelling reasons why cities are allowed to participate directly in development projects proposed within their Spheres of Influence.
In almost all cases the traffic from new projects within our Sphere will be added to the existing traffic levels on our roadways such as Boulder, Nevada, Clay, Coyote, East and West Broad, Zion, Uren, Gold Flat, North Bloomfield, American Hill, Willow Valley, Cement Hill, Ridge, and Old Downieville, to name a few.
Additionally, Nevada City parks provide the needed recreation, which also includes miles of trails and acres of city-owned open space; to be enjoyed by city residents, and people within and outside of our Sphere.
The ability to process wastewater helps everyone by providing employment opportunities in Nevada City's two office parks, two business districts, our court system, county government center, as well as the Forest Service, Robinson Enterprises and Telestream headquarters. It allows us to be home to the schools serving our Sphere.
What has Nevada City done within its sphere?
It has acted responsibly and grown at a rate appropriate to the town and its neighbors. Larger annexations starting in the 1980s include (in acres): the Old Airport (110), Presbyterian Church (7), Nevada Street/Northridge (28), Grass Valley (Group)/Deer Creek Environs (159), Nevada City Elks (25), Searls Avenue (43), Nevada Woods (10), Providence Park/Fire Station (10), Gold Flat Industrial Park, Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum (82), Hirschman's Pond (50), and in progress, Sugarloaf Mountain at 65 acres.
In total, Nevada City has more than doubled in size from its original one square mile of 640 acres to 1,350 acres today. Jobs have been created, homes and schools have been built and the Deer Creek drainage has been protected. Please note, Little Deer Creek, our city water supply as well as its water treatment plant, are being recommended for deletion from the Sphere.
Nevada City's Sewer Treatment Plant operating at 50 percent of capacity has plenty of capacity to handle all properties within its Sphere of Influence.
By acting responsibly, we have not only protected Nevada City, but also our neighbors within and outside of our Sphere.
On Feb. 23, at 9:30 a.m. at the Rood Center ,Nevada County LAFCo will convene a workshop to discuss and decide this issue. Please attend.
Each of our three cities is unique and that's one thing that makes our county so great. As a 23-year city council member and longtime LAFCo Commissioner, this proposal is outrageous, not mandated by law, and should be abandoned in its entirety. It will affect the lives of thousands of people.
Your support would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Paul Matson, who lives in Nevada City, is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His opinion is his own and does not reflect the viewpoint of The Union or its editorial board. Write to him at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.