Our View: This community is all our backyard
March 23, 2018
It was only a matter of time before an opposition group formed in response to something changing in Nevada County.
The latest outrage stems from the planned opening of a medication assisted treatment facility on Margaret Lane in Grass Valley. This facility, in the shadow of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, will dispense methadone to qualified patients, among other medicines.
This center may not be in your backyard, but you better believe it's in somebody's rear view. That means only one thing — oppose the development until it goes away or possibly goes to court.
We apparently can't have development in this county without opposition forming in an attempt to kill it. And then we wonder why people continue to drive down the hill to shop and question our leaders about why housing costs are so high, the latter of which only adds to our homeless population.
These are linked — opposition to development and sky-high housing costs. We've taught developers that any change they bring to Nevada County will see opposition. They then pay more than elsewhere because of the numerous hearings and appeals they face.
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Home builders face the same problem, along with the increased cost of building California imposes. It costs a lot to build a home here. Add to that a contingent that opposes new housing, affordable or otherwise, and what you get is an area with a lack of rentals and homes that are too expensive for many to buy.
You could argue, like many have, our elected leaders should listen to the opposition and obey their wishes. These are the people affected by what they see as negative changes to their neighborhoods. Why not comply with their demands?
Well, zoning would be one reason. As some supporters for Dollar General argued, zoning is a promise to property owners and potential property buyers that the land is available for certain uses. Investing in that land and paying taxes on it yearly only to have local government stop its legal development isn't just wrong, it's a poor method of leadership.
Our government fails every time it kowtows to a vocal group of opposition that manages to appear in force at midday meetings in the middle of the week. That's akin to mob rule, and it's no way to guide our county into the future.
Don't get us wrong: People have the right to petition their government for a redress of grievances. If you oppose, or support, what's happening, talk to your elected officials.
The problem here is that an obvious pattern has formed. Any development, any change, is opposed.
The Nevada County Board of Supervisors sided recently on the side of property rights, abiding by their zoning and refusing to comply with only those who appear at their meetings. Other governments should take notes.
We can't lay all the problems we face at the doorstep of our elected leaders. Our community could use a sea change about what shape it should take and what direction it should go.
We must stop opposing every development that wants to come here. If that means a redesign of the county general plan and zoning map, so be it. Let's get on the same page and ensure our community becomes more vibrant, healthy and welcoming to people who want to do business with us.
Cell coverage in parts of our county is terrible. We need better coverage, not facetious arguments about radio frequency.
People are driving to Auburn and Roseville for their shopping. We need more stores here like the Higgins and Dorsey marketplaces to keep our tax dollars local.
Dollar General is a business that wants to come here and build in properly zoned areas. Arguments that the stores don't fit the character of the community are poorly disguised disagreements about a business with an unfortunate name.
And a methadone clinic around the corner from a hospital is not only warranted, it's needed. There are people in our community suffering from opioid and other addictions. We need a facility here to serve them, because this is their home, too, and their backyard is just as important as yours.
Our View is the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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