Part One: 1863 TO 2019

By Kathy Prevost and John Davey

There was very little traffic the very first time we drove windy twisty Bass Lake Road with the little bridge in 2002. The only new construction was the development of Woodridge where we were thinking about purchasing a home. Coming from rural Northern Illinois we were used to rural roads and did not think too much about it. We only passed one other car driving in from Highway 50 that day.

Bass Lake Road was already discovered we were soon to learn, not unexpectedly. There were plans for the development of many homes in the future from the west by Parker Development building out the El Dorado Hills Specific Plan (Serrano) and from the south for long time planned homes in the Bass Lake Hills Specific Plan. There was talk of a Regional Park on the 41 acres owned by El Dorado County across the road from Woodridge.

In our frequent trips on Bass Lake Road, we often wondered about the road itself. We knew Bass Lake Road was old but how old was it? We wondered what stories it could tell both then and now. Why was Bass Lake Road only partially improved rather than completed to Serrano Parkway as we had learned it was supposed to be as part of the Bass Lake Hills Specific Plan.

What was the status of Silver Springs Parkway which had long been planned to be completed from Green Valley Road to Bass Lake Road? Why were Serrano Villages J5, 6 and 7 not conditioned to build frontage improvements by El Dorado County on the section of Bass Lake Road adjoining Bridlewood Canyon and the Woodridge developments. What are the El Dorado Hills Community Services District plans for their proposed Bass Lake Park?

Bass Lake Road – Past

The Gold Rush days brought thousands of gold miners to Sacramento either by road or ship and finally over land to the gold fields. There were two roads to the diggings and they used either the Sacramento and Placerville Road, which is our present day Highway 50, or the Coloma and Sacramento Road, which eventually became Green Valley Road. Dozens of road houses were built along the routes between Sacramento and the gold fields as well as in Placerville and Coloma.

Placerville was the second largest of all the gold rush towns and was one of the first Camps settled by miners in 1848.

In 1856, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors appointed two residents to locate a road running from the Morrison House on the Sacramento and Placerville Road to intersect the Coloma and Sacramento Road at the Green Valley House.

After beginning at the Morrison house, the new north-south road would run past the Atlantic house and Big Reservoir (Bass Lake) to a point near the Green Valley House. However, it appears the road may have been successfully resisted by a resident named J.G. Gridley because it was not until 1863 that it became a public highway to a width of 60 feet.

This time it commenced at the west side of the Ohio House on the Placerville and Sacramento Road and followed the west lines of the Zimmerman, Rust and Willits ranches to Evans store on the Coloma and Folsom Road. Zimmerman’s property encompassed the American Reservoir, which was to become the future Bass Lake.

The road most likely came to be called Bass Lake Road sometime in the 1930s when James Nicol purchased the American Reservoir property from the Diamond Ridge Water Company. He offered bass fishing and other recreation at his Bass Lake Resort, which was located on the eastern shore of the lake.

Over the years very few alignment changes have been made from the original route. Due to flooding conditions in the winter, the road was aligned further away from the easterly end of Bass Lake in the late 1930s. In the 1950s, a right angle turn was removed from in front of a house at the Mayhew place.

The southerly end was realigned in the 1960s because of freeway construction. In 1978, a fill was constructed across the easterly end of Bass Lake and the road was realigned across this fill creating the Bass Lake Overflow.

Bass Lake, El Dorado County May 1993 – Google Earth Image

In 2005, the developer of Laurel Oaks was conditioned to build a new road to their development from Bass Lake Road as designated in the Bass Lake Hills Specific Plan Public Facilities Financing Plan.

The new road replaced Stone Hill Road and was renamed Hollow Oak. They also were conditioned to construct Bass Lake Road from north of the proposed entrance of Serrano Parkway to the Fire Station as a two-lane divided road with an asphalt bike trail and concrete walking trail on either side.

Also completed that year as part of the El Dorado Hills Specific Plan was the connection of Serrano Parkway to Bass Lake Road, which had been realigned to correlate with the new Serrano Parkway. A four-way light was installed at the intersection of Bass Lake Road and Serrano Parkway.

In 2013, part of the far northern end of old Bass Lake Road, now called Sienna Ridge Road, was vacated with the remaining road realigned to intersect with Serrano Parkway and Bass Lake Road for a future shopping center and homes.

Bass Lake Road – Past – Specific Plans

The Bass Lake area contains two specific plans, the Bass Lake Hills Specific Plan (BLHSP), which is located at the southern end of Bass Lake Road and totally within the area, and the El Dorado Hills Specific Plan (EDHSP), which is adjacent at the northerly end of Bass Lake Road.

Basically, specific plans provide a comprehensive frame work for future development consistent with the El Dorado County General Plan. They further refine the General Plan by providing detailed policy direction for the plan area beyond that provided in the General Plan.

The EDHSP was approved by the Board of Supervisors in 1988 on approximately 3800 Acres. The Plan is currently in the final stages of completion of building a shopping center on Sienna Ridge Road and the adjacent new homes. There is one Village in the Bass Lake Area left to be built, which is on the east side of Bass Lake Road adjacent to Bridlewood Canyon and the Bass Lake Overflow.

Residents of the Bass Lake area may not be aware that Bass Lake itself is in the El Dorado Hills Specific Plan (identified as Village R) and is subject to the constraints of the Plan and the Environmental Impact Report. The 1200-acre BLHSP and Development Agreements were approved by the Board of Supervisors in 1995 and at completion will be comprised of 1458 Homes of various densities.

Subsequently, a Public Facilities Financing Plan (PFFP) was approved in 2004 by the Board to set forth a strategy to finance the infrastructure and other public facilities.

The PFFP required substantial road and infrastructure improvements in various phases to address the concurrency policies of the specific plan.

Developers responsible for improvements would be eligible for reimbursement from future development.

Many of the core improvements, such as completion of Bass Lake Road improvements including landscaping and irrigation of the divided road, curbs and gutters, construction of a park and ride, Silver Dove Road, and the Highway 50 Eastbound and Westbound interchange improvements were required prior to the creation of the 300th lot.

The first 99 homes were built in the Hollow Oak development along with the road improvements to serve the project. This developer was also responsible for the Bass Lake Road improvements in 2005.

Per the June 8, 2004, BLHSP PFFP Final Report, the Hollow Oak project was conditioned to realign Bass Lake Road from north of Hollow Oak Road to Serrano Parkway, moving the route several hundred feet to the west via a newly constructed roadway, and adding bicycle lanes on the west and east sides of the new roadway segment.

This is the current alignment of this section of Bass Lake Road today. The old alignment was renamed Old Bass Lake Road for several years, until modifications to the Serrano J5/J6 commercial properties were approved in 2017, a short section of the old roadway was removed, and the entire old road segment through to the Serrano Parkway-Bass Lake Road intersection was renamed Sienna Ridge Road.

Per the BHSP the Hollow Oak development was identified as Phase 1.

The June 8, 2004 BLHSP PFFP recognized three other projects as part of Phase 1A: Hawk View, Bell Woods, and Bell Ranch. These projects were required to provide completion of the core improvements concurrent with development.

Concurrency – Up-Front Construction of Bass Lake Road

One of the stated goals of the BLHSP is that major infrastructure improvements in the plan area are to be constructed “concurrent” with initial development. The following policy of the 1996 County General Plan states in part that:

Policy Proponents shall be required to make necessary road improvements or to pay a traffic impact mitigation (TIM) fee, or some combination of both, to accommodate increases in traffic caused by the proposed project.

1996 El Dorado County General Plan Policy

The concurrency issue deals primarily with the construction of Bass Lake Road and Country Club Drive.

Critical Mass – The Concurrency Threshold:

The County Department of Transportation (DOT) addressed the concurrency issue in a memorandum to the County Board of Supervisors that is dated November 25, 2002. The County DOT suggested that the first 300 housing units construct the realignment and construction of Bass Lake Road. The 300- unit threshold is referred to as the “critical mass” amount.

In addition to Bass Lake Road improvements, the PFFP provides that the following items will be required at the 300-unit critical mass level: (1) Hwy 50 Interchange Project Study Report (PSR), (2) access roads & infrastructure to the school site, (3) sidewalks and the class I bike trail along Bass Lake Road, (4) acquisition of an 8.7-acre sports park, (5) design of the sports park, and (6) acquisition of a 2-acre park-and-ride lot.

The infrastructure that is the responsibility of the County for the 300-unit critical mass is estimated at $14.9 million was shown in Table 2 of the PFFP. The PFFP allows for two phases of construction for the Bass Lake Road improvements. The first phase was to be constructed by the Hollow Oak project (Phase 1). The second phase (Phase 1A) was to be completed by the next development project or group of projects, whether or not the next project or group of projects exactly equals 300 units.

In 2013, developer BL RD LLC sought to make modifications to the BLHSP PFFP and the BLHSP conditions of approval. These were fundamental changes that many in the community, including the El Dorado Hills Area Planning Advisory Committee, felt were in direct conflict with the intent of the 1996 BLHSP approvals, and pointedly, the 2004 BLHSP PFFP. These changes were rejected by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors, with the following findings from the El Dorado County Community Development Agency, Development Services Division, in their Executive Summary dated August 16, 2013:

The adopted 2004 PFFP was structured to provide for the ultimate infrastructure needs and provided the phasing and potential over sizing for future phases.  The cost of providing infrastructure was designed to place the burden of infrastructure development on the early phases, with the reimbursement to be provided by later phases.  If later phases never materialized, and reimbursement was not forthcoming, the risks would be borne by early developments, not the county.

El Dorado County Community Development Agency, Development Services Division Executive Summary, August 16, 2013:

In 2016, the El Dorado County Planning staff and the developer proposed major revisions to the BLHSP and the PFFP for these three developments which was approved by the Planning Commission. The twenty-year 1996 BLHSP Development Agreement between the County of El Dorado and multiple individual land owners was set to expire, and a new Development agreement was desired by the landowners, now primarily comprised of one major investment group, BL Road, LLC, with offices at 3000 I Street in Sacramento. Per this new 2016 Development Agreement, the developer is now responsible for building the realigned Country Club Drive to Bass Lake Road and Morrison Road as well as paying for a small portion of the improvements to the eastbound offramp of Highway 50. In September 2017, BL Road LLC sold their interests in the properties to Lennar Winncrest LLC for a reported $19.03 million.

According to the County any future developments would be conditioned to complete the designated core improvements. Other than Bass Lake North, approved in 2017, there are no new projects that we are aware of. These 2016 major revisions to the BLHSP PFFP are substantially the same as the rejected changes from 2013 that the County determined were not in alignment with the original intent of either the 1996 BLHSP, or the 2004 BLHSP PFFP. BLAC and the minority report from the El Dorado Hills Area Planning Advisory Committee indicated that these changes required an amendment to the BLHSP. County Planning Staff disagreed.

In 2018, El Dorado County Department of Transportation identified the need to widen Bass Lake Rd from Hwy 50 in the south, to Serrano Pkwy in the north, as had been considered in both the EDHSP, and the BLHSP Environmental Impact Reports. Apparently this need was identified in part by existing traffic volume, road conditions, and the impending development of the BLHSP Phase 1A residential projects, the construction of the Safeway anchored Sienna Ridge Shopping Center at Bass Lake Road and Serrano Parkway, the construction of Serrano’s Village J6 at Bass Lake, construction of Serrano’s Village J Lot H residential project, the previously approved Serrano Village J7, construction of the Silver Springs residential Unit 1 development, and the impending completion of the southern extension of Silver Springs Parkway to Bass Lake Road at the current Sandhurst Hill Road. The four-lane expansion of Bass Lake Road from Highway 50 to Serrano Parkway was officially added to El Dorado County’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) in June, 2018 as Project No: 72BASS/36105054. However, funding for this project was estimated in the CIP as becoming available in the 2028-2038 time frame.

You will not want to miss the October Bass Lake Bulletin when we will look at Bass Lake Road – Present, as the story continues. The Bass Lake Hills Specific Plan may be downloaded at pdf. ~

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