Plumas County Planning Director Randy Wilson reported to the Planning Commission that urban school districts in California are buying property in areas zoned for agriculture because land is cheaper there.
This runs contrary to the state’s goal of preserving agricultural land and could result in schools being located in areas where pesticides are used on a routine basis. Providing a suitable buffer for schools removes even more agricultural land.
By state statute, school districts are allowed to locate schools wherever they need to without county approval. School districts only have to notify the county of their intentions of building a school and where it is to be built.
That was just one of the topics that arose during the annual meeting of the California Planning Directors Association that Wilson attended in Sacramento on Feb. 23-24, and he shared that information with the planning commission.
Concern was raised at the Sacramento meeting that the new administration might revoke the waiver that the federal government granted California in 1970 under an amended federal Clean Air Act to create its own air quality standards.
California’s air quality program has more stringent pollution restrictions to protect human health. Fifteen states have voluntarily adopted California’s stricter pollution standards, protecting a total of 130 million people nationwide.
California’s air quality standards also regulate greenhouse gases as a pollutant and the state has been working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The New York Times reported March 3rd that Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was exploring how to withdraw Clean Air Act waiver from California.
Environmentalists and climate scientists fear that loss of California’s waiver could impact California, the nation and the world for generations to come.
Mining in Plumas County
Wilson reported there are 22 active mines in Plumas County with greater than 2 acres of disturbance or more than 2,000 cubic feet of waste material. Many of these larger mines are gravel mines. This number does not include numerous smaller placer operations in Plumas County.
The planning department is charged by the state with permitting and inspecting these mines.
Wilson reported that there has been only one application for a new mine and one application for renewal of an existing mine in the years since he has been at the department.
Chair Dr. Shauna Rossington suggested, and the rest of the commission agreed, that the commission spend time at each future meeting going over county code to bring it in line with the county’s master plan.
Commissioner Larry Williams agreed, saying, “Zone change is basically our reason for being.”
According to Wilson, the commission will start with a review of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) regulations at its next meeting on March 16. Wilson estimated that CEQA regulations might take two meetings to get through.
Future cannabis hearing
The commission discussed and added language to its bylaws concerning how the public can add agenda items to upcoming commission meetings.
The commission also discussed strategies for making efficient use of time when a lot of people want to give testimony to the commission, many of whom share the same message.
The commission will encourage like-minded citizens to select a spokesperson to express the sentiments of the group. Then individuals within the group can endorse or add to that statement during their individual testimony.
The commission understands that everyone has a right to be heard. As county supervisor Kevin Goss declared, “even if it takes all day.”
The commission expects that a lot of people will want to express their opinions concerning the county’s cannabis ordinance. Once the Cannabis Task Force has finished its draft of the ordinance, it will go before the commission.