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Posted by: thepinetree on 02/07/2008 02:14 PM Updated by: thepinetree on 02/14/2008 12:34 PM
Expires: 01/01/2013 12:00 AM

Ray Waller on the Slippery Driveway Slope Issue~By John Hamilton

Angels Camp, CA...We had the pleasure to talk for a few minutes with Ray Waller, the former head Calaveras County Building official on the ongoing driveway slope controversy. For those of you who may not remember the county stopped issuing permits for development on parcels where the driveway slope exceeds 16%. This has numerous parcels currently tied up in protraced if not uncloseable escrows and has thrown the value of hundreds of millions of dollars of county real estate and homes into question. We wanted to talk with Ray about this issue because he was with the county and the building department when the original county ordinance was created to comply with state code 4290...

Ray Waller at Al-Cal Supply in Angels Camp

Since Mr. Waller was involved in the process of crafting the county's current ordinances on this issue, we thought his input would be enlightening. He is our chat...

"This exact issue was already addressed in numerous stakeholders meetings back in the 1990s. According to Ray the current county code was specifically written to address 4290 issues. CDF recognized paving as having "The Same "Practical Effect" as other possible mitigation measures" says Ray.

"The county has been operating under these guidelines for over 16 years. The Board of Supervisors could simply state that we have addressed these issues before and have already crafted what they feel is the best solution and therefore lobby for the best interests of it's citizens."

Many people feel that there are many common sense issues on this subject as well. County and state roads are exempt from this ordinance. There are numerous county roads that have slopes greater that 16% and many that have slopes greater than 21%. This is another instance where private property owners are being held to a higher standard than the state and local governments have to abide by. The county or state road feeding a developed parcel can legally have a slope greater than is required for the private parcel.

One of the largest issues affecting properties is that under the current county implementations of these rules if a home or dwelling is damaged due to fire or other causes. The owners would possibly not be able to get permits to rebuild or repair a damaged house. This has the potential to have a much greater impact on the economy than just new construction. It also throws the value of the these properties into question. If you can't rebuild, what is it even worth especially in the current market?

There seems to be a growing sentiment on this issue and also the legal access issue where the current inertia is starting to cause very real damage to the local economy. According to Ray the simplest way to fix the current problems would be for the supervisors to reaffirm that the county has already dealt with the issue and leave it at that.

"They don't have to go back to the drawing board and reinvent the wheel if the work has already been done."

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