Supervisors Novasel, Ranalli, and Veerkamp received the following letters on March 8, 2017. As of this date, former Supervisor Mikulaco has not picked up his letter at the Post Office.
Here are excerpts from the letters and video clips:
Whenever constitutional violations are committed by public officers, there are constitutional remedies available to the people. Such remedies make those who violate their oaths, such as you, accountable and liable for their unconstitutional actions conducted in perjury of their oaths.
Your continued refusal to allow the public the opportunity to make comment on the staff’s monthly TGPA/ZOU status update was a violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act. By your actions, as stated herein, you perjured your oath, which oath was given in exchange for the public trust. Therefore, you violated the public trust, and also violated the rights of free speech, redress of grievances to government and peaceful assembly, guaranteed in the First Amendment, all of which actions were conducted by you without constitutional or any other valid lawful authority.
Your refusal to provide a meaningful process for Citizens made it extremely clear to the audience that this meeting was a joke, a farce and a fraud, simply meant to give the appearance of a just and fair hearing, but delivering nothing of the kind.
On Wednesday, December 28, 2016, the Board of Supervisors will decide whether or not to sign documents to receive a loan of approximately $57,000,000 from the USDA to build a new Sheriff’s facility on Missouri Flat Road.
While it is clear that the current Sheriff’s facility is in need of repair and/or replacement, the magnitude of this loan, in addition to other County infrastructure projects, has the potential to create a situation where the County’s expenses will outweigh its revenues.
Here are snippets from the Chief Administrative Officer’s Report:
On October 6, 2016, due to concerns arising from the new Sheriff’s facility, Save Our County sent a letter to Doug Colucci, Area Specialist of Rural Development for the USDA. Those concerns include:
The County’s potential violation of the California Constitution due to the proposed indebtedness exceeding revenues (Article XVI, Section 18)
The potential for additional costs of road infrastructure required to accommodate the new location on Missouri Flat Road
The obvious disqualification because the County’s population exceeds 20,000
The potential for additional costs to clean up the former Superfund site
The concern for public safety by locating to a new site on a congested road that is distant from the highway corridor, and more.
El Dorado County courts have called the stocky white courthouse in downtown Placerville home for over 100 years – and for nearly half that time residents have argued about whether the historic courthouse has outlived its usefulness.
The debate riled the Gold Rush-era town in the 1960s and resulted in a makeover that covered the neoclassic courthouse’s interior with dark wood paneling and swapped chandeliers for florescent lights.
Today, plans call for a new courthouse to be built in a parking lot behind the El Dorado County jail, in a wooded area on the western edge of the community of 10,000 in the Sierra Nevada foothills approximately 45 miles east of Sacramento.
The planned location is near a number of other county office buildings along Highway 50 but about 2 miles from the city’s central business district, where the old courthouse presides over a curving Main Street lined with buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Placerville courthouse plan is part of a larger statewide effort to replace historic but outdated courthouses with modern facilities, often in less-central locations.
Placer and Yolo counties have new courthouses that replaced grand old downtown structures. And Sacramento County is moving toward building a new $500 million, 500,000-square-foot justice center in the old railyard north of downtown.
Some say a new home for the El Dorado Superior Court is long overdue.
The old courthouse is cramped, with only four courtrooms, and lacks modern security features. Prisoners walk through public areas in shackles. Deputies lock inmates in the jury-deliberation room because there are no holding cells. Public defenders have to interview clients in restrooms for privacy.
“It is a building that has outlived its usefulness as a courthouse,” said Suzanne Kingsbury, presiding judge of the El Dorado Superior Court.
Others think the move is misguided. The courthouse has anchored downtown Placerville since it was built in 1912, and it reliably infuses Main Street with dozens of jurors, lawyers and court employees who keep downtown restaurants and shops busy on weekdays. Tourists generally don’t show up until the weekends.
Critics of the move contend there is ample room to build a modern courthouse annex with a much-needed parking garage, while rehabilitating the historic courthouse.
Kirk Smith, a downtown property owner whose family has been in the Placerville area since the 1840s, has led the fight against moving the court.
“It has to do with pride. That’s our heritage. It’s part of our DNA,” Smith said. “People come to Placerville because of what’s old, not what’s new.”
In 1965, grand jurors recommended replacing the old courthouse because of seismic instability, he said. That caused a public outcry and resulted in the courthouse being renovated.
This time, the plan to move the court hasn’t caused such a stir, but there are those who think it’s a bad idea and would siphon dollars that keep downtown’s restaurants and shops afloat.
Main Street business owners say a significant portion of their sales, up to 30 percent in some cases, come from customers who work in the courthouse or residents who are called for jury duty. During the court’s long lunch break, they eat, shop and stroll Main Street, often coming back on the weekend with friends, they said.
Albert Fausel co-owns Placerville Hardware, billed as the oldest operating hardware store west of the Mississipi and one of the longest-operating businesses in California. He and other merchants said they felt excluded from the debate over the courthouse’s fate by public officials intent on a new building despite public sentiment.
Fausel said an addition to the existing courthouse would have been a better option.
“They’re spending so much money (to build a new courthouse),” he said. “I think they could spend the money down here and help the merchants. I don’t know why they’re taking it away from us.”
Preservationists have sued the state Judicial Council to stop the project, saying a legally mandated environmental analysis overlooked the potential for urban blight if the courthouse moves.
“The (environmental impact report) failed to adequately disclose, analyze and/or mitigate the Project’s economic impacts to the businesses in historic Placerville on Main Street that will lead to urban decay,” says the complaint by the Placerville Historic Preservation League.
The case, brought under the California Environmental Quality Act, is pending in San Francisco Superior Court and could be decided soon. Courthouse construction, which was scheduled to start next year, is on hold pending the outcome.
In a legal brief filed by the Judicial Council and El Dorado County, lawyers argued that there is no real evidence that the court’s relocation would lead to blight. Plans call for the 1912 courthouse to be left standing and reused in a way that will enhance the local economy and draw people downtown, the attorneys said.
At the same time, construction of a new 88,000-square-foot courthouse will improve the county’s criminal justice system by providing modern facilities with holding cells, jury-assembly rooms and ample security, the lawyers said. Its location next to the jail will make bringing defendants to court much easier and save money, the lawyers wrote.
Placerville City Councilwoman Wendy Thomas said she understands the concerns of business owners but is certain the ornate white courthouse needs replacing.
“She’s a shining jewel in the center of our city and she’s a mess inside,” Thomas said.
The court’s move should be looked at as an opportunity to reuse the old building in a way that would draw visitors to Placerville on weekdays and at night, Thomas said. She suggested it might be turned into a boutique hotel with a restaurant or a performing arts center.
One expert suggested the move might not have the long-term benefits that advocates envision, however.
Ray McDevitt, a retired lawyer who wrote the book “Courthouses of California: An Illustrated History,” said courthouses such as Placerville’s were traditionally the center of small towns, and not just for symbolic reasons.
“It was an economically sensible decision,” McDevitt said. Lawyers and others using the courthouse had offices downtown, as they still do. Hotels and other prominent public and commercial buildings often shared a square with the courthouse. Centralizing functions made sense.
These days counties around the state are building new justice facilities on the outskirts of towns, including in Auburn, Roseville and San Andreas, the county seat of Calaveras County.
New suburban courthouses might seem logical in the short run by providing ample space and easy access to the county jail, McDevitt said, but he doesn’t think they’ll last 100 years.
“Land at the fringe of a community is cheaper and you can have a huge parking lot,” said McDevitt, who practiced local government law in San Francisco for decades.
The trend, however, is oddly retrogressive, like building shopping centers in the 1950s and 1960s on the edges of cities, he said. The current return to city centers and away from car-based culture is more economically and environmentally feasible going forward, he said.
“The flight to the suburbs is sort of over, I think, as an urban design formula,” McDevitt said. “A lot of places are spending time and energy to revitalize the cores of their communities. So to take a functioning governmental institution and remove it from a place where it’s visible, understandable and accessible seems going against the grain.”
“I think that in another 30 years,” he said, “the decision to remove courthouses to remote locations will be looked at as errors.”
For Immediate Release
Contact: Sue Taylor (530) 391-2190
GRASSROOTS COMMUNITY GROUPS BRING
A WIN AND AWARENESS TO EL DORADO COUNTY
June 8, 2016, Placerville, CA
Save Our County, Residents Involved in Positive Planning, and the Shingle Springs Community Alliance would like to thank the voters of El Dorado County for the adoption of Measure E. Measure E retains a new and improved 1998 Measure Y while sending a clear message that projects which create gridlock on our roads will not be tolerated.
Measure G lost by a slim margin, informing the Board of Supervisors that it is not just a “small” group of residents that want our resources, rural character, and quality of life protected, as promised in the voter-approved 2004 General Plan.
The ‘No’ campaign by Parker Development, the Farm Bureau, Alliance for Responsible Planning, and the Winery Association promised to protect our open space, farms, wineries, rural economy, local jobs, worms, water, roads, rural quality of life, schools, public safety, fire protection, small businesses, our children, and seniors.
In light of those campaign promises we would expect to find common ground with the opposing groups when we ask the Board of Supervisors to stop ruling in favor of projects that violate our General Plan. Rather than wasting public and private resources by forcing lawsuits, the Supervisors should stand with the people of El Dorado County in demanding that the required policies that protect our historical, cultural, agricultural, recreational, and natural resources finally be put in place.
We would like to express a special appreciation to the many individuals, business owners, farmers, and ranchers who have spent their time and energy to spread the word about the importance of protecting our rural quality of life.
Additionally, thank you to the many community groups that supported our shared cause, including Citizens for Sensible Development in El Dorado Hills, Friends of Historic Hangtown, Georgetown Preservation Society, our friends in Meyers, and especially Rural Communities United (RCU).
When the current Board of Supervisors recently overhauled our General Plan and Zoning Ordinance to favor higher-density, urban-type development, RCU was quick to take the lead in a lawsuit designed to stop the county from its abuse of “discretionary” power. We encourage everyone to support RCU with donations to fund the lawsuit that will further restore the voter-approved 2004 General Plan.
Dear El Dorado County residents and rural lifestyle supporters,
We really appreciate the donations that have been sent. We try our best to cover our efforts with volunteers. Unfortunately, the County has worded our ballot questions to guarantee a no vote. Therefore, we feel we had no choice but to defend the true meaning of the Measures. So any contribution is greatly appreciated. Click here for information on how to make a donation.
Here is a quick update of what happened at the courthouse last week:
The Judge set Monday, March 21, 2016 at 4pm as the deadline for plaintiff to file an opening brief.
The Judge set Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at 4pm as the deadline for respondent to file the responding brief.
The Judge set a hearing for Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 9am for hearing this matter.
If you would like to attend the hearing, the address is: El Dorado County Superior Court Department 9 3321 Cameron Park Drive, Cameron Park
The last date for Elections to send ballot to the printer is April 8, 2016, so that is why the judge is moving quickly on this matter.