These topics are presented together, because their most significant impacts would fall on the residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.

The exception is event traffic, which would impact all those living or driving along Ospital and Southworth Roads, connector streets like Olive Orchard and Pettinger, and those traveling along Highways 12  and 26, when attendees are entering or exiting these roads. (See “Traffic”)

Properties north to Southworth are mostly 10- to 40-acre residential parcels; east past Warren, mostly between 5- and 60 acres. Parcels south to Highway 26 are minimum 50 acres, many still zoned AP. The project site borders working sheep and cattle ranches on two sides. Increased noise, lights and traffic may directly impact their livestock and interfere with their “right to farm.”

Most other residents of this isolated rural area settled here to avoid the noise, lights and traffic of cities. The Natural Resources Land/Agricultural Preserve designation was supposed to protect our property from encroachment by industrial, commercial and recreational operations.

The area’s physical characteristics – rolling, grassy hills with sparse oak woodlands – transmit noise in ways that flat or densely treed areas do not. Outdoors – or with windows open – neighbors can easily hear music and even loud conversations from outside gatherings half a mile away. People tend to be considerate of their neighbors’ preference for “country quiet.” Barking dogs and roosters crowing too early in the morning used to be the most common noise complaints.


Noise has been an issue for neighbors close to the property since the Trinitas developers began clearing and grading in 2001. The RDEIR identifies major sources of future project noise as:

  1. Bullet “…traffic on Ospital Road accessing the site…”

  2. Bullet “noise that may emanate from daily business operations of the clubhouse, lodge and/or operation of the existing golf course…” including:

  3. Bullet “…gasoline powered lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and other automated maintenance equipment…” In addition:

  4. Bullet “The lodge will host indoor and outdoor golf tournament banquets, weddings, birthday and/or anniversary parties for members which may include amplified music or public address systems”. (See RDEIR page 3.9-8)


The proposal calls for year-round special events, including:

  1. Bullet 24 Mid-Level Special Events (between 250 and 500 people),

  2. Bullet One Large Special Event (between 501 and 999 people).

  3. Bullet Unlimited events hosting less than 250 people.

If the site is rezoned from Agriculture to Recreation, county ordinances would not preclude events of greater than 1,000 people. Regardless, it’s difficult to see how event attendance can be enforced. What will prevent more people or more frequent events, bringing more traffic and more noise to the area?

Proposed mitigation?

This noise impact of events is said to be reduced to a “less than significant” level, because it’s limited to “only” 15 hours a day, 7 days a week!  “Outdoor events … shall be limited to the hours between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. and shall not exceed Calaveras County General Plan recommendations for maximum noise levels for noise sensitive land uses at the property line. (RDEIR page 3.9-9, mitigation Measure 3.9-1b)

A similar approach is taken to construction noise expected during project build-out, which is termed “temporary” in the RDEIR.

  1. Bullet “All phases of construction shall be limited to the hours between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on weekdays, and 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays. No construction shall be permitted to occur on Sundays or national, state, and county holidays.” (RDEIR Mitigation Measure #3.9-3)

How can construction noise 11-hours a day, six days a week be deemed “less than significant” to people living in the area? How many years would it take to complete?

No ambient noise level studies have been done.

The transient population at the 30-unit lodge/motel may be another significant source of noise. Other recreation areas with short-term rentals have experienced problems with transient occupants creating public nuisances or disturbing the peace. Since the county lacks a noise ordinance, there’s no clear enforcement mechanism in place.


Project lighting from streetlights, 5 acres of lighted parking lots and headlights from vehicles entering and exiting the site will alter the area’s character and views of the night sky. Clubhouse lighting would stay on until the last event attendee or employee leaves. Parts of the Lodge open 24-hours per day would be lighted throughout the night, and both facilities include security lights. Currently, the only residential neighborhood with street lights in the greater Wallace/Burson/Valley Springs area is 5 miles away in Wallace Lake Estates. This new symbol of urban development will be visible for miles at night, and is totally inconsistent with the existing agricultural and rural residential uses in this north west corner of Calaveras County.

For more information on this topic, see KIRC comments on RDEIR chapters 3.1- Aesthetics, and 3.9 - Noise.


Noise, Events & Lighting Impacts

Notable Quotes:

“The presence or absence of noise in the environment can greatly affect quality of life. Given its rural character, Calaveras County affords a relatively quiet environment, compared to urbanized areas of California. This factor is one of many which attracts visitors and residents to the County.”

(1996 General Plan Noise Element,  pages VI-1 and VI-2.)  


“...Although the residential development on the site can be characterized as compatible with the area, the other activities on the site are relatively intensive. If the maximum number of events is held at the project site, there will be fairly intensive activity almost every weekend of the year. The operation of the golf course and related facilities and special events is not compatible with the rural scattered quiet residential nature of the surrounding uses. This impact is significant and unavoidable.”


IMPACT #3-8.4

Overview     Legal     Water     Traffic   Agriculture    Biological/Other    Events/Noise    Services    Economic


Calaveras County has no enforceable Noise Ordinance. Noise complaints historically result in only short-term solutions for frustrated neighbors. Even if the Sheriff’s Department is able to respond to a call, they can’t do much other than tell the noisy parties to quiet down. The next day – or the next weekend – it starts again, making life miserable for noise-sensitive residents. ___________

Mitigation Measure 3.9-1.d:

“During any additional construction activities and operation of the proposed project, the applicant will be responsible for the retention of a qualified acoustic professional to perform noise monitoring and reporting. The noise monitoring reports shall occur on a monthly basis for up to two years after build-out of the lodge and clubhouse to monitor typical operational noise levels at the project site and report if the noise levels exceed the Calaveras County Noise Sensitive Land Use Maximum Noise Levels, shown in Table 3.9-2. The subsequent monthly reports shall be submitted to the County for review.”  Trinitas RDEIR, page3.9-10


Then what? Monitoring and reporting do not in themselves mitigate impacts. Consequences of failure to meet standards must be addressed and enforcement mechanisms identified, beyond stating that additional mitigation measures may be considered at a later day if compliance issues arise.

Copyright 2009 - Keep It Rural Calaveras (KIRC)

Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are the property of KIRC.

Documents were obtained from Calaveras County under the Public Records Act, and from cited news sources.

Masthead photo:

Sheep graze, breed and give birth directly across the street from Trinitas, setting up an inevitable conflict between ranch and resort, country and country club.

Notable Quotes:

  1. Bullet In a 2004 Calaveras Grown video about Trinitas Olive Oil, developer Mike Nemee described plans for a “45-foot high tower, with a beacon that should be visible from Highway 26 to Highway 12 and to Valley Springs, showing the way to Trinitas.”