Development in stupid places

Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2006


The sensationalism over the death of Mr. Gomez is remarkably misguided. The accident in question or one of its kind, was predicted as a safety hazard in the development and review of the Environmental Impact Report for the University of California Merced, and has been reiterated ad nauseum in the county’s University Community Plan Environmental Impact Report as well as in public comments on the Yosemite Lake Estates project, and Vista Del Lago. This situation is one of the more obvious dangers in approving uncoordinated approval of multiple sources of traffic impacts on the same rural roads.

Who keeps on approving these clearly identified safety hazards? The County Supervisors! Who is ultimately responsible for putting lighting along those rural roads that must bear the burden of handling this traffic? The County Board of Supervisors!

The Merced County Association of Governments is channeling all available state and federal transportation funding into bypass roadways from the Mission Ave Hwy 99 exchange to the Atwater-Merced Parkway. That plan will eventually get people from out of town to and from the UC faster and safer, but will do nothing for safety on surface roads such as the one on which Mr. Gomez was struck.

No one is naïve enough to believe the every person moving into the residential real estate springing up around UC wont be using the surface roads as well as the bypasses, so where are the road safety improvements going to come from and who’s responsibility is it to upgrade the existing roads to make pedestrian traffic safe in the area now? No one seems to have any idea! Is the liability simply going to fall to the citizens of Merced County? Especially those intrepid pedestrians who take their lives in their hands by walking home drunk instead of driving!

How soon will a UC student be killed on a bicycle trying to cross Yosemite Avenue and Lake Road in the fog? Who will be liable in that event? Just another unavoidable Act of God? I think it unlikely that the Merced County Board of Supervisors would acknowledge their culpability in such a situation, nor would the Merced City Council. Possibly the UC Regents would step up to the plate, but I won’t hold my breath?

Your own editorial today on the Assembly’s vote regarding residential development in floodplains in the central valley had a pertinent gem of truth within, which I would like to reiterate loosely: All elected leaders, including the governor, should know that state taxpayers face massive liabilities when locals approve development in stupid places.

It is not too late to pull the plug on the whole UC Merced real estate debacle, and wouldn’t that have a remarkable effect on Merced County’s supply of affordable housing all of a sudden?

Lynne Ackerman- Catheys Valley (209) 966-8104