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Placer supes OK gates to deter Granite Bay crime

Two developments have Placer Planning Commission denials overturned
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Granite Bay as a community of gated enclaves? Concerns over burglaries were cited as a major reason to allow more of them Tuesday. But nearby residents opposed to the increase in gates on subdivisions in Granite Bay argued that crime fears are overblown. When the votes were in, the Placer County Board of Supervisors had added to the roster of gated enclaves in the south county, with approval Tuesday of two more security gates providing limited access to housing developments totaling 29 lots. According to the county?s count, that means about 1,250 of the homes in the upscale Granite Bay area are ? or soon will be ? behind a controlled, security gate. The gates were approved for the six-year-old Olive Ranch subdivision, adjacent to Olive Ranch Road and the eight-year-old Terracina Oaks subdivision, located off Laird Road. David Cook, who represented Terracina Oaks property owners at Tuesday?s appeal hearing, said gated residences represent about 17 percent of Granite Bay?s housing stock of 7,580 homes. And Cook produced statistics from county law-enforcement records indicating Granite Bay gated communities had fewer 911 calls over the past four years than ungated areas. ?Most (of the Terracina Oaks residents) are concerned about security,? Cook said. Cook added that gates ?aren?t out of character at all? in the area. ?It just adds to the variety we already have,? Cook said. But nearby resident Sandy Harris said she wasn?t buying the idea that there was enough of a fear about crime in Granite Bay to warrant ?extenuating circumstances? and a gate on the two developments. Harris said she found offensive the characterization of Granite Bay as crime-ridden ?ghetto? by Marcus Lo Duca, a land use attorney representing Olive Ranch landowners at the hearing. ?When the sheriff gives a report to the Granite Bay Municipal Advisory Committee that crime statistics are nearly nothing, that?s offensive,? Harris said. The two requests for gates were brought to the board on appeal from the Planning Commission, where panel members had voted to turn both down. County planning staff had also opposed the addition of gates, citing a Granite Bay Community Plan requiring ?significant extenuating circumstances? for approval. The policy requiring special circumstances to allow security gates was initially put in place in support of Granite Bay Community Plan objectives of protecting the rural identity of the community. Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, who represents eastern District 5, was the lone supervisor to vote to uphold the planning commission decision. After receiving confirmation that there was nothing in county regulations precluding individual property owners erecting gates on their own land, Montgomery cited studies indicating that gates didn?t drop crime rates over time and could lull people into a false sense of security. ?There are some instances where gates are creating unsafe communities because people don?t take normal precautions you would take if you lived in an (ungated community),? Montgomery said. Montgomery also cited a Fort Lauderdale study that showed crime levels rebounded after an initial drop when gates were installed and another that showed no effect on the crime rate in closed communities, when compared with gated communities. Supervisor Kirk Uhler, who represents Granite Bay, said a gate is an amenity offered to people who choose to live in a community and wouldn?t be unduly noticed by passersby. ?It means that maybe the once or twice a day people who drive down Olive Ranch Road, assuming you?re at the posted speed limit, you might out of the corner of your eye see a gate for a half second,? Uhler said. ?That?s it.?