Dueling new shopping centers in Grass Valley

1339806988894706No sooner had we begun a public debate about a “lifestyle center” at the new (albeit uncompleted) Dorsey Drive Interchange than the “powers that be” in Grass Valley on Tuesday are going to consider another shopping center with “big box” written all over it: this one at Berriman Ranch at the south end of the City.

You can find the proposed shopping center under “C” (for commercial) on the page marked “8-9” of the map in this document.

It is about a 26-acre parcel at Highway 49 and LaBarr Meadows Road (again, near where the highway has been widened, thanks to our generous government, which we ironically like to bash).

The “gung ho”-for-development Grass Valley City Council no doubt wants to see both projects go forward (as well as the Loma Rica housing project near Brunswick Basin).

I have no idea how much development is enough for them, because I’ve never heard them say what constitutes “stop.” There’s also been a vague plan floated to build a mega-resort in the county by the same group.

But the community will need to decide how much it thinks is enough — and it will be vocal about it. It will just as happily “un-elect” all of these people, even the “I was appointed-by-my friend” ones.

I really don’t understand how our western county — given its aging and declining demographics, the relatively small population base, a dearth of job opportunities and plenty of existing commercial vacancies — can support so many big new shopping complexes.

We must be awfully optimistic about our growth potential — or merely trying to benefit a few at the hands of many. Construction jobs are ephemeral, unless the goal is to build until you drop (like “shop ’till you drop.”)

We happen to love shopping at the “mom and pops,” as we did in our childhood and youth, and we can find everything we need. It’s a good lifestyle. We also realize that you have to support local businesses to preserve a rural lifestyle, so we put our “money where our mouth is.”

Still, I understand the electeds desire to “feed the beast” of city services and help prevent retail leakage with some kind of development strategy. And I support sewer service (rather than septic) for the business near the airport, though I’m not sure you need a housing project to help supply it.

What they’ve come up with (including a less-desirable Loma Rica project) is not very creative.

Maybe the south end of Grass Valley is more suited to it, rather than a highly visible hill at the top of Dorsey Drive near the existing downtown shopping district.

The South County seems to embrace development more than the middle, and it has a significant population base and less development.

Here’s the official agenda item:

H. PUBLIC HEARING

8. Consideration of the Planning Commission’s recommendation to certify the Environmental Impact Report and approve the General Plan Amendment, Prezoning, and Annexation applications (13PLN-08) for the Southern Sphere of Influence Planning and Annexation project.

RECOMMENDATION: After conducting the public hearing: 1) waive the reading of the ordinance in its entirety and read by title only; 2) introduce the ordinance prezoning 416 acres; and 3) adopt Resolution No. 2014-03, which approves the General Plan Amendment, Prezone, and Annexation applications (13PLN-08), and certifies the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) as being compliant with the California Environmental Quality Act

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

4 thoughts on “Dueling new shopping centers in Grass Valley”

  1. This is frustrating.

    I’ve traveled all over California, lived in a few different places in the state, and lived in Florida and driven across the U.S.; I had a bad case of itchy feet before settling into this area for a while.

    The only thing that makes this area unique in California is its careful balance of commerce, industry, and natural aesthetics. The north coast has more natural beauty (in a wetter, grayer climate), but not enough commerce or industry; the Bay Area, Sacramento, North Bay, and Central Valley regions have plenty of commerce and industry but less of a natural setting; Bishop and the Eastern Sierra in general have alpine-like natural settings but get wicked hot in the Summer and suffer from a dearth of commerce and industry; and Southern California is … well, yeah, SoCal.

    Grass Valley has a close cousin just to the south that’s already been there and done that: Placerville. For a glimpse of the future that many people seem to want for Grass Valley, just go to Placerville.

    Nevada County does have a lot to offer. There’s no reason why the city and county couldn’t be courting high-tech businesses and building our own tech startup ecosystem here, fostering solid economic growth without incurring the massive costs of urbanization.

    Instead, city and county leadership seem to be willing to take the cheap and dirty solution, gleefully trading away the only thing that makes this area unique for all of the benefits of living in Placerville.

  2. Rob,
    Good points. Thanks for weighing in. I’d add Sonora to the list of a “glimpse to the future.” I’m optimistic that the new ERC ED brings some skill sets to the thought-leadership pool that didn’t exist before. We’re hooked on Construction & Real Estate Inc. (who also run the local political show) and need to think more like Charles Litton and other entrepreneurs who helped settle the area. We also have I-80 corridor traffic as a draw to business, at least compared with Placerville and Sonora. We can do better. Much better. “Unique, unique, unique” for economic development. It’s like “location, location, location” for real estate.

  3. Oh joy, after waiting through all the construction over 17 years we’ve been here, traffic moves pretty well along 49. Now it will be constipated again, but I guess, among the .05%, out of area owners, who gives a shite, what we experience?

    BTW, You’ve left out the efforts to get the old Meek’s site up and running as a third additional shopping center. When I asked for a handout at the Dorsey meeting, that’s what I was given instead. Is that old news, or did someone hand me something they shouldn’t have?

  4. As expected, the resolution passed unanimously. It was interesting to hear some residents speak out about how they were not pleased with the Grass Valley services they were receiving after being annexed. Dan Miller took a pot shot at social media, adding “If you come here, you don’t have to rely on anyone else.”

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