County staff was in Three Rivers on the second Monday of the month, just as they have been every month since February 2014. But this time was the last time they will be here on this clockwork schedule because at the November 2015 meeting the planners laid out a strategy to wrap up this two years of work within the coming five months.
Planning Three Rivers— Three Rivers’s first and only community plan is from way back in 1980. It goes without saying that a lot has changed since that era but, for better or for worse, so much has stayed the same.
Three Rivers remains a predominantly residential area with other land uses such as commercial, light industrial, agricultural, and public (school, library, memorial building, cemetery, etc.).
Three Rivers consists of mostly low-density development. There’s not a stoplight, sewer system, or public park or restroom to be managed.
The community is not a significant center of commerce or industry. However, a million or so folks annually pass through on the state highway to visit Sequoia National Park, so the potential is obvious yet untapped.
Three Rivers has more lodging rooms than any other unincorporated community in Tulare County. With the proliferation of Airbnb, VRBO, and other online rental services, travelers have a couple hundred additional choices in accommodations. All of these “beds” are required to collect a 10 percent “transient occupancy tax” for any stay less than 30 days that goes into the county coffers.
Till we meet again— On Monday, April 11, the final Community Plan Update meeting was held. On hand as always were Dave Bryant, special projects manager, and Eric Coyne, economic development coordinator. They were joined by Hector Guerra.
Hector has the knowledge and experience in all things environmental. Hector has been the chief environmental planner for the County of Tulare Resource Management Agency’s Planning since March 2012. Previously, he was the city planner for Dinuba for more than four years and, from 1994 to 2006, he was with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, working his way up the ladder to senior air quality planner.
Hector discussed the next phase of the Community Plan process: developing the environmental impact report. To expedite this project, consultants have been hired to study several aspects from traffic patterns to water supply. Two Three Rivers consultants will be on the EIR team, Kristina Roper Graber, archaeologist, and Bobby Kamansky, biologist.
And if you weren’t one of the 15 people in attendance at this final meeting, there will be a few more opportunities in which to provide input on the proposed plan. On Monday, May 9 (6 p.m. at the Three Rivers Memorial Building), for instance, there will be an EIR scoping meeting.
Once the draft EIR is complete, which could be in excess of 1,000 pages, there will be a public comment period for the maximum time allowed — 45 days — “because Three Rivers has shown so much interest,” said Eric. A draft revision of the Community Plan will be released at a public meeting in August.
“You could see the plan another five or six times before it goes to Planning Commission,” Eric continued. “But our commitment to you is to get the entire community study out by the end of the year.”
So if you are interested in the future direction of planning and development in Three Rivers — noise, outdoor lighting, refuse and wildlife, town center, signage, transportation, gateway community development, preservation of native trees, water use and riparian habitat, highway setbacks, ridgetop development, preserving viewsheds, cultural resources, housing diversity, public safety, and myriad other land use and zoning issues — stay involved. After all, this is your plan.