Town meeting plays to packed house

Want to pack the Three Rivers Memorial Building with a standing-room-only crowd on a sweltering, mid-summer Wednesday night? Then present these hot button topics: short-term vacation rentals and a proposed $30 million hotel development.

In addition to those lengthy discussions, Kuyler Crocker, District 1 Supervisor, County of Tulare, who organized the July 24 agenda, furnished local updates on bear-proofing and public restrooms at the Three Rivers Historical Museum.

Here’s a quick take on each topic:

Bear-proofing Three Rivers

A partnership — the Three Rivers Bear Brigade, Sequoia Parks Conservancy, and County of Tulare’s Solid Waste Department — are negotiating a cost-share program that would purchase at least one bear-proof trash can for each of the 895 residential customers. Every property owner can purchase or be granted one of two trash can types. The lockable cans could save dozens of bears from becoming habituated to garbage.

Public Restrooms

In 2018, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors allocated $250,000 to build restrooms along Sierra Drive at the west boundary of the Three Rivers Museum property. The project received three bids. The winning bid of $488,000 was submitted by Sierra Range Construction of Visalia. Crocker pledged that the County will allocate the additional funding. The project could be completed by year’s end.

Short-term Vacation Rentals

Michael Washam, Tulare County Planning Director, presented a draft ordinance that would require each of the estimated 200 local short-term rental properties be registered. The registration would require a one-time fee of $500 and a property inspection.

Washam said staff hopes to have the ordinance before the Planning Commission by September and to the Board of Supervisors a month later.

View County of Tulare RMA’s Draft Short-Term Rental Ordinance

Hotel Development

Gautam Patel made his first presentation at a Three Rivers public meeting in more than two years. He offered background on how and why the Patel Group chose the nine-acre site in Three Rivers (Highway 198 at Old Three Rivers Drive) for the upscale 200-room hotel development.

Dave Bryant, Tulare County Chief Planner, cited supporting data in the Three Rivers Community Plan that there is ample water and the zoning is appropriate with overlays of building standards.

For more information on these County of Tulare projects in the works for Three Rivers, call the Resource Management Agency (i.e., planning department) at 559-624-7000.

A glimpse of the standing-room-only crowd that was in attendance at the July 24 public meeting in Three Rivers. (Video footage and photo by John Chappell)







9 thoughts on “Town meeting plays to packed house

  • July 26, 2019 at 6:24 am

    No $30M development needed in Three Rivers…. Goodbye Mr. Patel.

  • July 26, 2019 at 9:04 am

    Is this all of the report we readers get about this important meeting?
    What questions were asked? How answered? Yes we can read the County Report. But how about an independent journalism report? I’m disappointed in E News

  • July 26, 2019 at 10:15 am

    The Short Term Residential Rental Ordinance is definitely a good and needed ordinance for properly located businesses in commercially zoned areas. However the real issue with these businesses in WHERE they are located. My residential neighborhood is NOT a commercial zone that is planned and designed to handle foot traffic and additional vehicle traffic, etc., nor is it compatible with any retail style business, Quality of life, quiet peaceful enjoyment of one’s property is not compatible with a living in next or near basically a hotel. The two will never blend, it is like oil and water. This why we have zoning laws. The basic purpose and function of zoning is to provide a division of residential, commercial and industrial districts, or zones. Why is it no one cares about a residential property owners rights? The majority of those who support Short Term Vacation Rentals (STVRs) anywhere and everywhere are profit motivated individuals who have a financial stake in there existence. In the case of residential neighborhoods, it is always at the expense of the neighborhood and any private water company members. Now is that fair that we should give up anything so these people can a profit at our expense? I don’t think so. I also include the County of Tulare in this category, they are looking at this opportunity as another avenue of tax revenue. That presents a clear conflict of interest, as do all who profit from ignoring zoning laws (or exploiting them). The county should carefully consider the protection and purpose of zoning laws as it applies to a residential subdivisions or neighborhoods. These types of businesses have no place in bedroom residential neighborhoods. I am not interested in living next to a mini hotel. Now who is going to protect my rights? I have the right to reasonably expect and enjoy a quiet and peaceful residential environment in which I invested in. If anyone tells you that it will not affect your property value, they blowing smoke up your backside, just ask this question; would you purchase a home right next door or close to a STVR in any neighborhood? The rights of one doing whatever he wants with his property ends at the other fellows nose, as always and in all circumstances.

  • July 26, 2019 at 10:35 am

    Thanks for the updates, John. We handed out over 70 informational pamphlets addressing the nuance of aquifers and groundwater availability, and I personally sent a 10 page alternative analysis of the 2014 DWR (Kirk) study to Gautam Patel. None of these key concerns have been directly addressed, other than a brief mention within the meeting that this information is ‘mostly inaccurate’. Is there a problem with inviting meaningful discussion around these interpretations?

    Dave Bryant never cited supporting data. He repeated misrepresented data, suggesting that there are over 50,000 AF in the Three Rivers region with relatively small demand. There are 57,000 AF in 9 separate aquifers, 49,000 of which are located between 7,000-9,000′ elevation. The region is split into 9 separate aquifers because they each have different holding capacities, and do not necessarily recharge lower aquifers at adequate rates. This is made very clear several times throughout the DWR study.

    From page 1 of the 2014 DWR study:
    “Recharge is greatest in the upper watersheds where supply exceeds demand. Recharge is smaller in the lower watersheds; there is little or no recharge in the upper part of each watershed. (DWR P. 1) 95% of domestic and commercial well use within the Three Rivers region falls into the lower four watersheds (p.20 DWR). Of these four, the Lake Kaweah watershed is the lowest at 1,026 AF. The three-hotel complex and ‘Town Center’ are being proposed on this groundwater aquifer. The balance in this aquifer was negative in the 2014-2015 drought (p. 30 DWR)

    I’m not actually concerned with this hotel. I don’t care whether it’s built or not. But there’s a process, and if we’re going to built and invest in infrastructure these hydrology concerns need to be more carefully addressed. We’re setting a precedent for how we allow private interests to dictate democratic processes within our small town. Why is it that insurance agencies are starting to accept the reality of climate change, along with 99% of the scientific community, but our own community plan refuses to acknowledge it within the Water Supply study?

    • July 26, 2019 at 11:38 pm

      I agree with your statement that there needs to be a process. I too share your concerns about the hydrology as well as wastewater disposal and other environmental and social concerns such as traffic and massing. It would be good to learn about the CEQA process for this project which should at least be subject to an initial study and likely an EIR. I too care little whether the facility is built or not but I do care that all environmental and social issues are carefully and objectively considered and their impacts properly mitigated..

  • July 26, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    These comments are spot on. The process to endorse a project such as this is short sited and does indeed lead to a dangerous precedent. Future developers will see how easily this hotel was approved and jump on the bandwagon. The decision makers did not consider our lack of infrastructure, current scientific data, or future risks such as climate change. Three Rivers do you feel your voices were heard, do you feel worries about traffic, lighting, water, sewage was considered, or do you feel like you were railroaded into a project that was not thoroughly vetted by county and elected officials? Once this hotel exists, whether it is a beauty or a blight, the land and our town will never be the same.

  • July 27, 2019 at 7:43 am

    What a great idea it was to get the County involved in the Airbnb issue. How helpful they’ve been.
    1. We’ve given the County $100,000. 2. Invited the County “legally” into our homes at will. 3. Registered homes for County revenue collection.
    Did Three Rivers get tips on using homeowner associations to regulate the number, maximum occupancy, or neighbor responsiveness, NO Did we get information on how we might use deed restrictions to limit or prohibit AirBnBs? NO Did we get tips on maintaining school attendance numbers so we can keep our local school? NO Did we get information on integrating absentee owners into the culture of the community? NO
    The scoreboard looks like County 3, Three Rivers -0

  • July 28, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    I’m sure this is old news but the city of Three Rivers could take control of its own destiny. Yes, we would have to pay for this power; Grandma’s rule is that nothing in life is free.
    Think about it. Maybe it’s time to find out what the city would cost, and what benefits it would provide.

  • August 1, 2019 at 12:22 am

    On July 24, Gautam Patel proposed building along Hw 198 and Old Three Rivers Drive an upscale 200 room hotel with boutique accommodations. . He proclaimed it would not disturb local residents. .
    However, this ignores residents who lived there long before we moved in. Turkeys. They are not farmed and are not found in a Christmas dinner. There a flocks of them, 30 or more together. The turkeys just mind their own business, pecking for food, leading chicks to best places, etc. Occasionally, a group calmly crosses HW 198. Lines of people stop their cars to watch the slow parade, taking photos to show the family or friends.
    So Mr. Gautam Patel, what will people remember most, a 200 room hotel or a nonchalant flock of “wild” turkeys?
    Would building the proposed upscale hotel be positive or negative, win or lose for.Three Rivers? They cannot go together.


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