Is your land under attack? Mine isn’t
My wife Geeta was reading the mail piece sent to us by Citizen’s for Property Rights in Nevada County (CPR Inc ). She said she was frightened that this Natural Heritage 2020 law could hurt our 34-acre parcel. I decided the time had come to explain to her what NO on 2020 is all about.
I started out by telling my wife that I was surprised by some of the statements found in this mailer. From my perspective as retired two-term county supervisor, the “facts” they espouse simply are not true. As I did with Geeta, I’ll repeat my basic ten points for you.
1. NH 2020 is not a law or a set of legal controls and regulations. It is a planning study and process (named NH 2020) that includes an advisory council to review the General Plan and determine how certain environmental policies can be implemented (e.g. open space district and recreation districts).
2. The makeup of the NH 2020 Advisory Council and its committees is equally divided between people representing farmers, recreationists, environmentalists, contractors, realtors and neighborhood associations. There is no over- representation from any one group.
3. If the NH 2020 planners make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for policies that require public money, those recommendations will not be decided by the supervisors but by Nevada County taxpayers. Existing state laws ensure that spending either by increasing the sales tax or property tax require countywide referendums.
4. Nevada County does not have the tax base or resources of Placer County, so the thought that supervisors would cut services for implementation of environmental policies is ludicrous. As a person concerned about Nevada County services, I would become an opponent to any such action.
5. Property owners have ample protection under current laws and judicial decision to ensure “just compensation” for any governmental (and private) policy affecting property values. In fact, a policy protecting the environment will eventually improve property values rather then lower them.
6. Nevada County public officials (including supervisors) cannot legally keep secrets from citizens. Again, local activists have successfully utilized safeguards such as the Freedom of Information Act when in the past officials tried to withhold information.
7. The charge that anyone can come on your property without your approval is not true. State law and local regulations forbid such action except in situations which threaten public safety. A land-use study is not such a situation. In fact, members of this Board of Supervisors, led by Supervisor Knecht and myself, approved additional safeguards against illegal public intrusion a couple of years ago.
8. It is true that aerial surveys of the county have been used by county officials in preparing General Plan and zoning maps, but it is not true that county personnel can come on your property unless invited or allowed by you, the property owner.
9. Endangered or threatened species found or suspected to be on your property will not negatively affect your property values. However, there are already federal and state environmental safeguards which are exercised when large landowners are making significant changes in the use of property. Environmental impact reports already must be filed under state law. NH 2020 will assist developers in their development process by making more useful information available. For the typical property, mine included, NH 2020’s biological study will not affect us.
During my two terms as county supervisor, I have been an advocate for improved environmental protection, better growth policies, and the respect for property rights and privacy for all residents. I feel that the policies of good planning, which will help maintain the amenities we cherish, are the only way to go. Good planning will not deter growth but it will deter adverse development, which in the long run, when compounded by bad policy, will have a greater influence on lowering our property values. I fear that the hysteria and confusion about NH 2020 could harm our county in the long run.
Sam Dardick lives on the San Juan Ridge.
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