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.