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No good arguments to keep DMRs regulatory

On April 24 the Lake County Commissioners voted 3-0 to repeal the Lake County Density Map and Regulations that had been in effect since 2005. Controversial when enacted, the repeal was also controversial. Although the majority of public comment was in favor of retaining the DMRs as regulatory, the Commissioners determined that the regulations and map could retain their usefulness if moved to advisory status in the new 2018 Lake County Growth Policy. My vote to go in a different direction than what public comment dictated was similar to what happened when the DMRs were adopted. At that time, public comment was three to one opposed to adoption of the map and regulations. The Commissioners chose to adopt despite the opposition, which they had the right to do.

Many residents have argued that the DMRs will become “worthless” once they lose their regulatory teeth. This perception is incorrect and I would like to provide an example of how the DMRs will be used after becoming advisory.

I own an 11.5 acre parcel in the North Crow Creek area east of Pablo that is designated 20 acre density. I have no intention of creating another parcel on this property, but if I did want to, the regulatory nature of the DMRs would not have allowed this to happen. Under the advisory DMRs, I now would have the opportunity to apply through Lake County Planning to create an additional parcel(s). The Planning Department would look at the density map and other parcels in my neighborhood and determine whether or not an additional parcel on my land would fit into the character of the neighborhood even though it might not comply with the designated density. In addition to consideration of density, planning would consider effect on water quality, public services and safety, and access to the parcel. If denied, I could accept the denial or could appeal to the Commissioners who would take a look at my proposal, consider the findings of the Planning Department, and then either approve or deny. Moving the DMRs from regulatory to advisory will provide the Planning Department and Commissioners some flexibility when considering applications. Other current regulations such as subdivision, buildings for lease or rent, sanitation, etc. have not changed. Also, density within any of the numerous zoning districts found in the County did not go away.

Proponents of keeping the DMRs as regulatory fail to mention that the regulations took property rights away from landowners who got nothing in return. An individual with 10 acres of property in 10- or 20-acre density previously had one development right. The only avenues available for creation of any additional parcels would be through a family transfer, a variance, or a density map amendment. The fee for applying for a variance is $500, a density map amendment $850, and appeal of an administrative decision $250. These costs deterred some property owners from considering using any of these remedies.

I am a lifelong resident of the County and I have no desire to see our land over-developed and our open spaces disappear. Several of my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren live here and I want them to have the opportunity to live in this beautiful valley as adults if they choose. The belief that the DMRs had, in fact, saved our valley from wholesale development was not based on any factual evidence. There were no good arguments to keep the DMRs as regulatory.

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