Developers recently submitted plans to construct a large-scale commercial complex on property in El Dorado Hills at the north end of highway-50, flanking Silva Valley Parkway. This land parcel, known as EDH 52, sits next to a school and directly in front of our quiet—and until now—beautifully-planned Serrano neighborhood with a natural hillside view.

For years, our family and neighbors have enjoyed a colorful sunset behind our hill and silhouette of Mount Diablo. Abundant wildlife including red tail hawks, shy coyotes, and families of turkeys and rabbits all make their home in these hills. Walking paths lead through meadows and woodlands to nearby trickling creeks and waterfalls.

This could all change dramatically—and forever—if we don’t act now.

Disconnected Design Will “Pave Paradise”

Here’s our concern: with construction of the highway interchange, this site is now zoned for big box commercial development, which has no connection, consideration, or vision for this neighborhood. This is the wrong location for this kind of development. 

Creating a generic enterprise for economic expansion is appropriate where retail locations can transform a business park or commercial environment—not in our neighborhood meadow right next to a distinguished elementary school attended by hundreds of young children. This type of development would have disastrous effects on the entire area.

Costco submitted a bid to build at this location. Another design depicts a typical churned-out solution—disconnected structures among a sea of parking—including a hotel, drive-through food, gas stations, rows of storage facilities, retail spaces, medical offices, a pharmacy, and a large grocery. These types of mass-market complexes are intended for vehicles, not pedestrian-access, increasing traffic congestion, and would require mature tree removal and infill of wetlands.

The currently proposed solutions would destroy our property values, along with this idyllic setting, threaten the safety of our children, and must be stopped. Instead of harmonizing with the area’s quality, the plans reflect a major disconnect between developers, county land management, and the residents within this community. 

We have one chance to get it right, and lasting implications if we don’t.

Let’s Keep Quality and Connections in our Community

This development is not necessary or beneficial at this location. The major interchange at Latrobe and El Dorado Hills boulevards provides access to the community’s central commercial zone. The business park allots space for big box commercial and industrial buildings. Gas stations and supermarkets should remain along these main arteries near Town Center.

If there is an actual need, we should think carefully about where to locate businesses, always mindful of our residents and aesthetics. Architecture should be attractive, as well as functional.

The Silva Valley interchange must remain a minor transition point, providing convenient freeway access for residents. The ramps must never be intended for industrial or general public use. Gas stations, public storage units, and large shopping centers Do Not belong here. 

Like us, many residents are business-minded professionals who want development to boost home values, improve the quality of life, and enhance the standards we all have come to expect. Roadways must remain dedicated to the local homes to prioritize safety and elevate quality living for residents and school children, not to diminish the character or value of this community.

Development in El Dorado Hills should be thoughtful—with the aim of enhancing the area. Reputable, quality developers work to truly understand the desires of a community and create lasting contributions. It’s not too late, but we must voice our concerns to the builders and county at once. 

Imagine Charm Imbued with Inspiration

The buildout of Serrano incited quality construction and the preservation of natural open spaces. This standard must continue to be upheld.

A more inspired vision would add value to our community before it is too late. Small-scale commercial development next to Serrano may be appropriate—if it is developed to blend with the natural setting; and if it meets the needs of locals. 

Consider this: charming, timeless villages are sources of inspiration. Amidst beautiful architecture and nature, people stroll through squares and over footbridges, connecting them to artisans and producers of local specialties, such as wine, cheese and farm-fresh goods. Many boast world-class restaurants, cafés and boutiques. Residents could consider this type of quaint, classy marketplace intended to directly serve us. 

I can imagine a picturesque village center beneath our hillside view. Locals could enjoy specialty markets, cafés, and restaurants surrounding a central plaza to support human connection and interaction, landscaped with shade trees, fountains, and outdoor tables. Integrated parking would not detract from the scenery, and would prioritize flow for pedestrians and bicycle circulation. Interconnected paths and trails would connect throughout the area to support healthy, active lifestyles.

Since the site is adjacent to an elementary school—and all the area’s students greatly need places to hang out—stylish, family-friendly shops and features would attract neighborhood kids and adults. This kind of solution would enhance the entire community in a more inspiring, harmonious manner.

The Time Is Now: Help Shape the Evolution of Our Community

Let’s preserve the value of our homes and the quality of our neighborhoods. Let’s protect the scenery that is enjoyed and loved by so many of us. Let’s maintain the safe tranquility of our community.

If we decide building on our hillside is right thing to do, let’s be thoughtful to create something beautiful and lasting. Even if a quaint, elegant village finds its place here, I hope our vibrant sunset views remain. 

Please act now—voice your support at the community meetings, talk with your neighbors, and email county planning officials. Let’s continue the conversation toward a more creative vision. Please help reshape the direction for this site’s development into an attractive solution that will benefit us all.

10 Comments

    1. According to the reply I received from John Hidahl to my strong comments against Costco, that parcel of land has already been approved for a big box store, thanks to Planning and Zoning. With that in mind, I seriously doubt if Costco will be blocked. No matter how much pressure the public expresses against it, it seems like a done deal. And that makes me sick.

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      1. Please don’t give up hope or effort to influence change. It’s not too late. Please contact the EDH APAC (El Dorado Hills Area Planning Advisory Committee) at https://edhapac.org to voice your opposition and find out ways to effect decisions otherwise made for us by the county in Placerville. We need to push for more decision-making power within our own community, regardless of what county officials say or how they justify their decisions made for us.

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  1. I saw your comments on NextDoor and could not agree more with your point of view. As a fellow architect living in Serrano, this type of mindless development is frustrating. It would be wonderful to see EDH take a stand on good design, planning, and sustainability.
    Surely the vendors wanting to come into a high-end marketplace like EDH will still invest. And why wouldn’t EDH want to model a more salutogenic approach.
    How do we keep abreast of opportunities to voice public comment?

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    1. Thank you, Simon, for your support. Nice to “meet” you. Sounds like our perspectives and backgrounds are similar with respect to sustainable design and planning.

      Since El Dorado Hills is not an incorporated municipality, control and zoning of our development is made by county officials in Placerville. Please contact the EDH APAC (El Dorado Hills Area Planning Advisory Committee) at https://edhapac.org to voice your opposition and find out ways to effect decisions. Hopefully together we can influence change in zoning for this site (and around the Silva interchange) and find an appropriate location for a Costco and other big box development.

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    1. I agree and would support a Costco for El Dorado county in an appropriate and welcomed location. This site should not support any big box development and needs to be rezoned back to lighter use, regardless of the interchange. Please contact the EDH APAC (El Dorado Hills Area Planning Advisory Committee) at https://edhapac.org to voice your opposition and find out ways to effect decisions otherwise made for us by the county in Placerville.

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  2. Action Plan…Send email request to for rezoning of land adjacent to Silva Valley Interchange from Commercial to lighter use. [ Use above email in red.]
    I’ll be sure to inform my neighbors.
    What are they thinking putting all that ‘business polution’ next to a neighborhood.

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  3. The lot is zoned for commercial and a commercial structure will go into that lot sooner than later. It could be a storage facility, tire company or many other types of commercial facility. I appreciate the want for it to stay open space and I wish it would but it will not as it was not purchased and marked as permitnent open space. The location is right off the freeway and is an ideal location for Costco so shoppers can enter and exit the freeway easily and can be viewed easily from the freeway.. The location will also not backup traffic significantly because of its placement. Placing Costco past Towncenter in the commercial park is a bad idea and would back up traffic for people trying to get to town center as well as getting home farther down the road. There is already quite bit of traffic off of Latrobe. Suggesting a location that affects other EDH residents because you don’t want it near your house is selfish and as I live in BlackStone I would fight that plan. My wife and I almost bought a house in that part of Serrano Ibut because it was near undeveloped open space we decline.

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    1. Thank you Albert. I can understand why you wouldn’t want big box development near your home either. Regardless, it is clear that Costco and any other big box stores or warehouses need to be planned well away from anyone’s home in this area, and as in this case, not be plopped in anyone’s literal backyard.

      Development needs to be rethought to maintain quality for all that live in El Doardo Hills. Construction needs to be based on what exists (regardless of prior plans), rather than carelessly destroying an area in favor of sterile, massive warehouses or strip malls.

      To provide perspective:
      Many have lived in this neighborhood since it was first developed in 2000. When we moved into our home, the site was zoned for light (Community) Commercial, so we figured—in keeping with the quality of EDH—one day, developers would build a small marketplace into the hillside, respectful of the natural setting and its neighbors. At that time, the county valued slow, controlled development, low light pollution levels, and protection of nature and air/water quality.

      We weren’t made aware that the planned exit from Hwy-50 onto Silva Valley would become anything more than convenient access for the neighborhood. It was too late once we heard of the impending monstrous interchange. We watched with horror as the beautiful broad-canopy oak trees were hacked away to their stumps that still remain—precursors of the hillside developers plan to also level.

      With this costly, oversized junction—now the only A-Rated interchange in the county—the lot was rezoned to “Big Box” (Regional) Commercial in 2012. An interchange of this size, at this location, should never have been planned, let alone constructed, next to an elementary school and beautiful neighborhood.

      Although we want to preserve open space and protect our waterways and wildlife, we aren’t against development. It just needs to be thoughtful, serve the residents, and maintain the quality that we have come to expect here in El Dorado Hills.

      This isn’t just about us. We face the site, but don’t back up to it. The greater point of the article is that development is lasting, here and anywhere. Every footprint creates a legacy. We need to uphold higher standards, not settle for the “least bad” option.

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