GENEVA/NEVADA CITY, Calif. April 1, 2012 - Nevada County's sluggish economic recovery will receive a substantial boost, thanks to an application submitted several years ago by a group of non-profits focused on sustainable living and development. The UN's Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio +20) just released the list of counties chosen to receive advanced planning and investment help. Nevada County was selected as the only rural county in California. Other counties selected throughout the US include Maricopa, Arizona - Madison, Wisconsin - Collin County, Texas - Utah County, Utah and Broward, Florida.
Last week's release of Nevada County's Health Report was the last piece of the puzzle needed to qualify for inclusion in the extended Rio+20 program. The current results indicate that the county is already well on the way to achieve the Healthy Population 2020 (HP2020) goals. The news release reads, in part: "Twenty years after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, where countries adopted Agenda 21 - a blueprint to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection - the UN is again bringing together governments, international institutions and major groups to agree on a range of smart measures that can reduce poverty while promoting decent jobs, clean energy and a more sustainable and fair use of resources." President George H.W. Bush signed on to the agreement in 1992.
While retaining complete autonomy, Nevada County will serve as a model community for sustainable development by implementing guidelines that include "the bush-paths and mountain-trails of grassroots innovation trodden by less high-profile users, workers, consumers, citizens, activists, farmers and small businesses."
Several of the current projects before local planning commissions will be eligible to adopt planning principles worked out by the international group. In exchange, UN partner organizations will provide technical assistance and possibly invest into the projects.
Some examples of eligible projects include:
- Airport facilities extension, including the bigger helipad for the U.S. Forest Service.
- Rincon del Rio senior living community.
- Loma Rica housing project.
- Nevada County government corridor, including the proposed jail expansion and relocation of the courthouse.
How Local Projects Benefit
Possible benefits for local projects, besides planning help, can include substantial investments. In exchange for higher density and sustainable construction, the proposed Loma Rica and Rincon del Rio projects could receive the latest generation of broadband services, including traffic monitoring and emergency notification systems.
The Forest Service has the option to expand their existing helipad and runways at the airport, in exchange for landing rights.
The county's proposed government corridor, running from the intersection of Hwy 20 and 49 to Newtown Road would be similarly equipped with hardened broadband infrastructure, multi-use road and light rail. The new jail complex could be extended to include work camps similar to the existing Washington Ridge camp.
All facilities built under the program will be LEED certified and carbon-neutral. The program will initially run until 2020, with a possible extension to 2040.
Some local elected officials were reluctant to comment on the news, possibly due to the upcoming elections.
"I'm not aware of any application, we certainly didn't sanction this," said Nate Beason, current District 1 Supervisor. "We already have enough state and federal mandates imposing their one-size-fits-all approach on us. These people need to stop wasting everyone's time with more regulations. Common sense has never come out of a committee."
Ed Scofield could not be reached for comment, Hank Weston called the idea a 'boondoggle.'
District 3 Supervisor Terry Lamphier tried for a nuanced approach, saying, "I have to see the details of the project, but the outline appears to have interesting possibilities. As you know, I have been working for the past year on the Biomass Task Force. If we can leverage the assistance grants and become energy independent, the benefits for the county will be huge."
Nevada City Councilmember Reinette Senum, reached at a symposium on sustainable urban gardens, whooped with joy. "People have the power to build a harmonious, sustainable and efficient economy when corporate interests don't rule the world. I had almost given up on the program, but now we'll have to relaunch our efforts and this time we will succeed."
Candidates for local office were also eager to comment on the news. Nevada City resident and candidate for District 1 supervisor Al Bulf exclaimed "Providing reliable transportation, including bringing back the railway between Nevada City and Colfax, fits right into the program. Infrastructure is the bedrock of the economy and this is great news."
Sue McGuire, also running for District 1, didn't want to comment on the record at first. But, after hearing that the UN was involved, she didn't hold back: "This is socialism, pure and simple. Agenda 21 is a danger to the American way of life and I will fight this. Our community doesn't need UN troops and black helicopters. Thankfully, our strong opposition will send this communist plot back to where it belongs, to the trash heap that is the UN headquarters." She pointed to the local Republican party's resolution Exposing United Nations Agenda 21, saying she fully supported the resolution.
Todd Juvinall, executive director of the California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners (CAPBRO), said, "We're neither pleased nor surprised by the news. We've been trying to warn Nevada County citizens for years that the UN has had its eye in the sky on the county. It's nice to be proven right, for a change. What a hoot."
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