At its meeting tomorrow, the Board of Supervisors will review and perhaps approve the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for Amador County. The county has invited all residents to submit their comments about the CEDS proposal, which can be found on the county website. So far, only one person has commented.
I followed up with Jon Hopkins, the county General Services Administration Director, for an update about what’s happening with the CEDS process.
Hopkins said that if the Board approves the final CEDS plan, “it’s up to us to identify who’s going to take charge of the different elements to move forward.” The U.S. Economic Development Agency (EDA), which approves the CEDS plan and monitors implementation, requires the county to give them a yearly progress update. So, the county CEDS plan requires quarterly updates from people the county has targeted to perform the tasks in the action plan.
As to receiving only one comment since the comment period began in January, Hopkins said, “I’m not really sure what to think about all that.” Since the CEDS requires federal approval from the EDA before plans can be put into action, he noted that “until that happens, we’re going to be waiting to see what funding becomes available to different factions that are interested in economic recovery, resiliency, and development here in the county.”
Hopkins added any other comments will be helpful to him and his staff. “If people want to get involved, they should read the document,” he said. “In particular, go to the action plan so you can see what we have planned to help economic development in Amador County. If there is one of those actions you want to be involved with or if you have input toward that, please contact me.”
If you haven’t read the CEDS documents, you can access them by downloading the agenda and then clicking one of the document links on page 4 in the agenda Word document.
The Board is scheduled to discuss the CEDS final report at 10:30 a.m., and you can attend the meeting virtually. If you want to submit your comments about the CEDS report before the meeting, e-mail Jon Hopkins at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 209-223-6759.
Keeping Development Flowing
Aside from CEDS, Hopkins says he’s been busy with other economic development issues with the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), which advocates for rural counties at the State Capitol. Hopkins said the RCRC feeds him information about potential developer interest from GO-Biz, the state economic development agency. “So far,” he added, “we haven’t been successful in getting any hits on any of that stuff.”
Currently, Hopkins is working to answer a survey for RCRC about infrastructure, economic development, and the biggest challenges for rural cities and counties. Hopkins has a ready answer: help counties stop using the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) appeal process to slow down or kill projects.
He added that he hopes that RCRC can help with that process by working with state legislative leaders to limit CEQA challenges. “I know that for our jail project, we’re coming to the 11th hour of that being resolved after four or five years of delay because of a challenge,” Hopkins said. “That’s not fair to business developers, contractors, and even cities or counties who get held up for years.”
He added that the problem is that people who challenge a development project on CEQA grounds have immunity. “They have no skin in the game,” Hopkins said. “They take it to the local court, the local court hears it, then they appeal it to the appellate court level, then they hear it, and in our case, they appeal it to the state Supreme Court.
“The state Supreme Court won’t care about this at all, but it’s still another 60-day delay for them to say the local court was in favor of Amador County and the appellate court upheld that decision, so we’re not going to hear it. But it’s taken years to get through that process.”
One More Thing…
Hopkins also wanted to point out that people should get their vaccine shots as soon as possible.
“I think as the vaccine for COVID-19 gets out, you’re going to see an economic rebound,” he said. “I would encourage people whether or not you believe in the vaccine or not, if you do get vaccinated, it does seem from the medical community that the vaccine is helping combat the pandemic.
“The sooner you get the vaccine, the sooner we can get life back to normal.”
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