Amador County Administration Building

Amador County Transit Commission Meeting

The Amador County Transit Commission has directed further reductions in bus service in Amador County at its meeting Thursday, October 3rd. Later meeting as the Amador County Transportation Commission, they discussed further effort to address the impacts of the State Highway 16 relinquishment in Sacramento County.

In a follow-up to a special workshop held last month that saw the Board eliminate buses from the Jackson-Ione rout and the Jackson-Sutter Creek shuttle service, the Board directed staff to reduce the numbers of buses that serve the far eastern part of the County. The rout targeted for reduction runs beyond Mace Meadows up to Amador Station. Amador Transit is seeking to reduce rates in the face of twin budget crunches, in that the overall Transit Budget is running a deficit in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and the system is coming close to covering less than 10 percent of its expenses through bus fares, a key metric on which much of its funding depends. A recent study showed the up-country rout beyond Mace Meadows was the most expensive in the system, with each rider costing over 40 dollars per trip.

Meeting as the Transportation Commission, the board discussed strategy with regard to process of State Highway 16 being relinquished to local governments in Sacramento County. While the State legislature has already authorized the relinquishment with the passage of AB 652 in 2015, the actual handover must be approved by the State Transportation Commission. ACTC is attempting to use the environment review process to force State and Sacramento officials to address the potential impacts of changes to SR 16, which is planned to be converted to boulevard and have up to 19 new stoplights added to it. By asking that a traffic study be included in the environmental review, Amador officials hope to highlight the greatly increased travel time faced by county residents and perhaps force CalTrans official to offer mitigation measures to lessen the impact.

Amador County Board of Supervisors

The Amador Board of Supervisors discussed dog kennels and the closed county landfill at their meeting Tuesday, October 8th.

Kennels, specifically kennels being operated without a license or permit, was the focus of the discussion. The county considers keeping more than four adult dogs to be a kennel, and requires at least five acres of property and a land use permit issued from the planning department. Because multiple departments over see the kennel regulations, the Board issued direction that county animal control would take the lead in cases where unlicensed kennels were located on properties that were too small to be permitted.

The Board also discussed operations at the now-closed county landfill in the Buena Vista area, despite being closed for over seven years, the former dump remains an expense for the county. How much of an expense remains very much in contention between the county, its consultants and State Water Quality officials, as they work to address various issues with regard to water contained and flowing through the facility, with the cost of the work ranging in estimates from the tens of thousands to the millions of dollars.

Sutter Creek City Council

The Sutter Creek City Council council has started the process to raise sewer rates in the city, and continue to work on an ordinance regulating short term rentals in the city.

In the meeting on Monday, October 7th, the Council voted to send out notices to ratepayers of a planned increase for wastewater services. Based on a just-concluded rate study, the increase is proposed to go into effect starting on January 1, 2020. Currently a residential home pays $60.57 per months for sewer service, this will increase 19.7 percent in the first year and 2 percent per year for the next four years. This would make a bill $72.49 in 2020 and $78.47 in 2024. The city has not raised rates for almost ten years. Under Proposition 218, all city sewer customers will be mailed a notice of the increase, if more than half register protests, the increase is blocked, otherwise the Council can vote to proceed with the increase in 30 days. 

This increase will be the first of two planned rate increases. The City is currently in the planning stages of constructing a new treatment plant, to make up for the loss as the agreement with the City of Ione to provide treatment facilities come to an end. Once the expense of a new plant is finalized, the Council expects to ask for a second rate increase in order to pay for it.

The Council also worked on a draft ordinance that would regulate AirBnB and other similar short-term residential rentals. The Council debated adding an exclusion zone, where one such rental could not be closer than a certain distance from another, but could not agree on that distance, with ideas ranging from 55 to 600 feet apart. The Council also changed the draft to allow street parking to count for a unit’s parking requirement. A proposed absolute limit on the number of short-term rentals in the City was proposed by Coucilmember Tim Murphy and debated, but lacked majority support on the council. The Council will hold one more workshop on the ordinance before a final vote.

Amador County Planning Commission

The Amador Planning Commission is considering a so called “Dark Sky” ordinance that would attempt to decrease light pollution in the unincorporated areas of the county, and require that outdoor lighting be directed downward and away from neighboring properties. The county is considering the ordinance as part of an agreement with the Foothill Conservancy that settled a lawsuit from the Conservancy over the county’s adoption of a new General Plan. At its meeting on October 8th, Commissioners were supportive of the new law, with District 5 Commissioner Ray Ryan saying “I’ve been advocating for a dark sky ordinance for the last 20 years.” At the request of the Foothill Conservancy, the hearing was continued to allow more time for comment, and the Commission will take the ordinance up again at their November 12th meeting.

Upcoming Meetings

Tuesday October 15th

Board of Equalization 9 a.m.

Air District Board 1:30 p.m.

Jackson City Council 7 p.m.

Ione City Council 6 p.m.

Thursday October 17th

Amador County LAFCo 6 p.m.