Bittersweet Success

Dear RCU friends and supporters:

How do we say ‘thank you’ for a great event, while at the same time share news of our grief at the passing of Bill Center? Just like that I guess. Sunday’s ‘Music on the River’ event was a wonderful success, but on Monday we lost our beloved Bill.

The weather for Sunday was beautiful, the music was perfect for that river setting, and dancing on the grass and lights twinkling made it almost an afterthought that essential funds for the RCU lawsuit were being raised. Many thanks to our band ‘Late for Dinner’, Chandos tacos for the terrific food, our Georgetown Preservation Society bartenders, our helpers from Shingle Springs Community Alliance and No San Stino groups, the many wonderful silent auction contributors* and bidders, the residents from Pollock Pines to El Dorado Hills who came, contributed, and enjoyed the beautiful setting – thanks to all who made this a fun and successful event.

Bill had not wanted this event canceled when he learned of his illness. And while his battle was relatively short, the loss we feel will be long lived. He loved this county and gave to its preservation extensively. Our condolences go out to his family and friends, while we try to comfort each other on this loss. He will be missed.

From all of us at RCU

*Event & auction donations of all sizes were truly appreciated:
Speck Products
All-Outdoors Rafting
Adventure Connections Rafting
El Dorado Saloon & Grill
Lisa Richmond Photography
Jodar Vineyards & Winery
Erin Davidson, CMP
Tom Infusino
Jessicca Mossack
Tim & Sue Taylor
the Langleys
the Burcins
Van Dykes
Moffitt family
the Johnsons
B. Grant

With special thanks to the Center family for use of Camp Lotus and assistance throughout

Music on the River: 9-17-17, 5-8pm at Camp Lotus

Music on the River: 9-17-17, 5-8pm at Camp Lotus

Come on out to the riverfront at Camp Lotus to enjoy live music by Late For Dinner.

Join in the fun of the silent and live auctions, while helping to benefit our beautiful rural county.  Preview auction items here:  If you have goods or services to donate as auction items, please contact Ellen at

View the Chando’s Tacos truck menu here:

Bring your friends and family and spread the word.  See you there!

RCU fundraiser flier

RCU’s mission is to protect the quality of life in El Dorado County against the efforts of development interests, which continue to undermine the CEQA process and threaten the rural character of the County.


Importance of site specific review

On Tuesday, 6/27/2017, Supervisors denied a proposal for rezone south of Hwy50 that would have created 4 residential lots out of one. It was the Hansen Project, Z16-0001. County planners had ‘blessed’ it with a recommendation for approval, making a BOS denial fairly unusual. By contrast, these same Supervisors just approved a MUCH bigger project, right down the road from Hansen’s: a 5-building complex for commercial activity with a 50-student school, staff of 20, & a caretaker residence.

So why do you suppose the Supervisors said ‘no’ to Mr. Hansen? ..while they had their reasons, the point here is that only a site specific review of the project could reveal those reasons. SITE SPECIFIC REVIEW is key; it’s a must. Yet in December 2015, three of those same Supervisors denied the public site specific review of over 37,000 parcels rezoned en masse, county wide, under the TGPA/ZOU. It was a HUGE over-reach. How many of those 37,000 rezones might have been denied- just like Hansen’s- had they been given the site specific review required by Policy of the General Plan?

Two supervisors (Frentzen and Hidahl) understand the importance of doing a site specific review. Thank them for their efforts, and remind them that the other 37,000 parcels should have had the same treatment. Perhaps they can convince the other Supervisors that the RCU lawsuit should be settled and the mass-rezones overturned!!

Update – RCU vs. El Dorado County Supervisors

Dear RCU friends and supporters:

It’s been 18 months since RCU initiated legal action against the County in response to Supervisor’s approval of the General Plan and zoning changes known as the Targeted General Plan Amendment (TGPA) and Zoning Ordinance Update (ZOU).

In that time, many of you have donated to our legal fund, and we don’t want you to lose track of why you might have been inspired to do that!

The changes approved under the TGPA/ZOU promised to drastically increase development in our rural county, contrary to the expressed wishes of El Dorado County voters. Policy revisions catered to development interests, and removed protections put in place under the voter approved 2004 General Plan. The TGPA/ZOU…

  • Rezoned over 1/3 of the county’s parcels (over 37,000 of them) without notifying property owners or their neighbors of those changes
  • Expanded commercial uses into the rural regions of the county, many of them to be ‘by right’ with no public notice necessary.
  • Threatens our groundwater supply due to the expansion of commercial uses into those regions
  • Expanded in-home business regulations via the Home Occupancy Ordinance, with disregard for impacts on neighboring residents
    …and more.

The last General Plan lawsuit against El Dorado County resulted in a writ of mandate that halted new development approvals for almost 7 years. In spite of this, the County continues down the same path of disregard, forcing residents to fight for their quality of life via the courts, sapping the resources of all.

In May the County began the 60-day period they were given to certify the administrative record for this case as ‘complete’. We hope to then be granted a court schedule that will get this case before the judge – we will keep you informed.

Visit our new Facebook page to comment and connect with others on development projects in your area, and donate to our legal fund if you haven’t already. And let us know if you can help with an upcoming fundraising event!

Ellen Van Dyke on behalf of RCU

CA Supreme Court Decision Favorable to Citizens and Environmental Law

On March 20, 2017, the Banning Ranch Conservancy (BRC) announced a win for citizens throughout California who are fighting to get their elected officials to abide by environmental law. The Supreme Court of California published its ruling in the BRC case, making it clear that the environmental review process is more than just a checkbox to mark to approve a project.

Rural Communities United (RCU) attorney Tom Infusino shared the outcome of this case and its importance, with the El Dorado County Planning Commissioners and Board of Supervisors, in a letter dated April 26, 2017. As the decision makers for development in El Dorado County, Commissioners and Supervisors need to understand the impact of this recent court ruling. The court ruling dictates that decision makers have a duty to determine if meaningful environmental review of projects has actually occurred, prior to making any land use decision. It is not ‘ok’ to disregard public comments that question development impacts: full disclosure and fully reasoned analysis must be in evidence, or their decisions will be overturned.

“The preparation and circulation of an EIR [Environmental Impact Report] is more than a set of technical hurdles for agencies and developers to overcome. The EIR’s function is to ensure that government officials who decide to build or approve a project do so with a full understanding of the environmental consequences and, equally important, that the public is assured those consequences have been taken into account.”

Click here to read a copy of the April 26, 2017 letter that attorney Tom Infusino sent to the Commissioners and Supervisors.
Click here to read the California Supreme Court ruling in the Banning Ranch Conservancy lawsuit.

RCU needs your help to restore the 2004 voter approved General Plan and the 37,000 parcels that were rezoned without notification to the property owners or surrounding neighbors.  When the Board of Supervisors approved their overhaul of the voter-approved 2004 General Plan, RCU immediately sprang into action and filed a lawsuit to reverse the Board’s decision.  At this time, RCU is almost half way to raising the funds needed to complete the court case.

If the quality of life that we all enjoy in El Dorado County is important to you, then please join us in protecting that lifestyle with a tax-deductible donation to RCU.

Help us hold our elected officials accountable. Donate to the LEGAL FUND.

Donations are tax deductible through Planning & Conservation League (PCL) Foundation’s fiscal sponsorship under their 501(c)(3).

To Donate by Check (preferred to save online fees):

Make check payable to: PCLF Legal Fund
Memo line:  RCU-EDC

Mail to:
P.O. Box 1332
Placerville, CA 95667

To Donate Online:

Link to online donation page:

About Planning & Conservation League (PCL) and Planning & Conservation League Foundation (PCLF):

PCL ( is a nonprofit organization that has been around since 1965, and helped draft the critically important California Environmental Quality Act.  PCLF is their sister organization. Formed in 1972 they work at the Community level to assist groups like ours to better participate in the environmental review process. (


Déjà vu! Amador County sued on its General Plan Update

Much like Rural Communities United’s lawsuit against El Dorado County, Foothill Conservancy has filed a lawsuit against Amador County’s General Plan update.  More information and the Writ is available on the Foothill Conservancy website:


For immediate release

Thursday, November 3

For more information, contact Cecily Smith: 209-223-3508,

On Thursday, November 3, Foothill Conservancy filed a lawsuit in Amador County Superior Court challenging the County of Amador’s new general plan and related environmental impact report. The Conservancy’s petition for writ of mandate asks the court to set aside the general plan and EIR, and revise the EIR to correct identified errors and inadequacies. The attorney representing the Conservancy in this matter is Michael W. Graf, who won a Conservancy lawsuit that stopped the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s plan to flood the most-popular local sections of the Mokelumne River.

“We are truly disappointed that after a 10-year process, the county approved a general plan that fails to protect everything that makes Amador County a special place to live, work, retire and visit,” said Foothill Conservancy Executive Director Cecily Smith.

“The plan doesn’t protect our scenic beauty and community character. It will not stop rural sprawl. It greatly underestimates the amount of land that will be converted from agricultural uses. It will lead to gridlock on local roads, place lives and property at risk from wildland fire, create more air pollution, brighten our dark night skies, potentially destroy critical habitat for plants found nowhere else on earth, allow the conversion of working ranches and forests to developed uses, and continue to allow the proliferation of ugly ‘small box’ retail stores along our highways. We love our county, and we think local residents deserve better.”

The general plan will remain in force while the litigation is pending. The lawsuit is only the fourth suit filed by Foothill Conservancy since its founding in 1989.

“We’d always prefer to work in a cooperative, collaborative way to find solutions to local challenges,” said Smith. “That’s what we do on river and watershed issues, forest issues, salmon restoration, and more. But the county apparently wasn’t interested in doing that for the general plan. That left us with no alternative but litigation.

“We offered to meet and work with the county to address the serious concerns raised by our organization and its members, many other Amador County residents, local cities, CalFire, CalTrans, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, tribal interests, and others. But in the end, county chose to approve a plan that won’t set our county on a path to prosperity or protect our quality of life and natural environment.”

Foothill Conservancy was actively engaged in the Amador County General Plan Update process from its launch in 2006 until its final approval on October 4, 2016. In addition to providing public education on the plan process, the Conservancy served on the General Plan Advisory Committee, participated in related public hearings, submitted detailed written comments, engaged local and statewide experts to make comments on the plan and EIR, and provided many examples from other counties demonstrating how the plan could be improved to reduce its serious environmental impacts.

The county general plan even fails to live up to its own introductory vision statement, which is similar to the Foothill Conservancy’s own vision statement and land use principles. “The county supervisors chose to accept significant impacts on people and the environment rather than adopt a better plan,” Smith said. “We hope our litigation will lead to a more-positive result for Amador County’s landowners, businesses, wildlife and visitors.”

For more information, contact Cecily Smith at 209-223-3508 or

August 24, 2016 – Hear about RCU lawsuit at “Crash Course”

The Coalition for Change is hosting an event this Wednesday, Aug 24th, in Cameron Park, and Rural Communities United (RCU) was invited to share information on why that action-of-last-resort … a lawsuit … was necessary against the Board of Supervisors changes to our County’s General Plan.  Please join us, bring a friend, and share/forward the flyer below!