Three Rivers Community Plan Update


In the spring of 1968, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors initiated the process for the first Three Rivers community plan. It was approved and ratified 12 years later, in 1980. To be relevant, community plans should be revised and updated every 20 years.

Right on schedule, just before the turn of the 21st century, a volunteer community group began working with County of Tulare planners to provide scoping and vision for a new community plan. But today, on the cusp of 2016, Three Rivers is still under the planning umbrella of the 1980 plan.

1980 Community Plan— That plan, interestingly, is testimony to the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Back then, during the public scoping — the first ever of this type to be implemented in Tulare County — it was determined that the reasons residents chose to live in Three Rivers were (1) small, quiet community; (2) scenic beauty; and (3) people. 

The top four most disliked features were (1) infiltration by outsiders (think present-day river-access, trash, and vandalism issues); (2) local dissension (described as “the many differences of opinion expressed by local residents”); (3) poor selection of commercial goods; and (4) poor public facilities.

Also when queried during the 1970s scoping, residents were 42 percent for incorporation and 58 percent against, with 78 percent of respondents saying they did not think Three Rivers had the necessary tax base to provide the required services that incorporation would require.

In summary, the 1970 “Three Rivers Area Community Attitude Survey Report” concluded, “the majority of people would prefer the following local policies be effectuated…” 

(1) Discouragement of intense residential development; 

(2) Encouragement of recreational areas and preservation of the natural landscape and open spaces; 

(3) Encouragement of limited retail commercial facilities along proposed freeway routes (the development of a ski resort in Mineral King was proposed); 

(4) Encourage the retention of an airport in the Three Rivers area (the Three Rivers Airport was closed a few years after this study was completed due to new FAA regulations); and

(5) Discourage incorporation even if Three Rivers could generate a sufficient tax base to provide adequate city services.

21st century Community Plan— When finalized, the Three Rivers Community Plan will indicate specific land uses, significant natural and cultural resources, and circulation systems that have been determined as necessary to meet community needs. This plan will be the product of direct citizen involvement. Over the past two years of meetings, there has been a small, yet committed core group of attendees providing feedback on the plan development. 

Final five months— Today, 47 years after the first community plan began its scoping and survey sessions, and more than 15 years after work began on the present community plan, Three Rivers is in the home stretch. County planners have been spearheading meetings on a monthly basis since February 2014.

“We’re getting impatient,” said Allen Ishida, District One supervisor, at the November community plan meeting.

County of Tulare planners will meet in Three Rivers for just five more months. During each meeting, a specific planning topic will be addressed. 

“Your community plan is a land-use plan,” explained Supervisor Ishida. “What kind of development do you want to see?”

County planners say that all comments received from community members will be considered when drafting the Three Rivers Community Plan Update. 

Here are the dates and topics for the final Community Plan meetings:

Monday, December 14—  Land-Use Plan Update; Transportation and Circulation Plan Update. This month’s discussion will include proposals such as a town center and community park.

Monday January 11— Flooding (FEMA/zoning); Emergency Preparedness and Access.

Monday, February 8— Development on Slopes; Development Standards.

Monday, March 14— Noise; Water Quality and Quantity.

Monday, April 11— California Environmental Quality Act-Appendix G Considerations (environmental impacts checklist and required reports).

All research materials and planning documents may be viewed at

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