Council Looks to Take First Steps toward General Plan Update

Share:

Ag-land

During the council campaign several candidates indicated their support for a general plan update, and when Robb Davis, in a Vanguard interview in June, suggested the same, it became clear there were at least three votes to move forward to looking into a general plan update.

On Tuesday, the council may take the first steps toward embarking on the process, as staff has prepared a report where council will be asked to direct staff to proceed with the recommended steps.

According to staff, under the California Government Code, cities are required to prepare and adopt a general plan with a minimum of seven elements. The required elements include: “land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, safety and noise.”

Staff writes, “The plan is intended to anticipate future physical development and the possible impact this development will have on economic and natural resources (Gov. Code 65300). The Plan is to provide a long term framework for policy decisions by setting forth goals, principles and objectives. State guidelines suggest a planning period (horizon) of 20 years to assess the consequences of planning decisions.

“The planning horizon of the existing City of Davis General Plan of 2015 has passed,” staff notes.  “The goals, objectives, policies and actions in the General Plan are implemented through various implementation strategies. Some of the more common implementation strategies are: zoning and zoning revisions; area and specific plans; design guidelines; capital improvement plans; climate action plans; habitat conservation plans; bicycle plans; and affordable housing ordinances.”

However, at the same time, staff notes, “There is no statutory requirement for the periodic update of the General Plan (other than the Housing Element).”

There are those in the community who believe that the current general plan, though dated, remains relevant and those who believe it is time to embark on an update.  There are even some who have called for a whole new general plan.  However, at this point it seems that the direction is for an update as opposed to a new plan.

Staff has highlighted the steps for moving forward.

General-Plan-Steps

Staff recommends a web-based survey tool at this early process stage for ease of participation and administration. Preliminary questions identified by staff are:

  1. What do you like most about Davis today (in 2016)? (open ended question)
  2. What do you want Davis to be like in 20 years (in 2036)?(open ended question)
  3. What are the most important planning issues facing Davis today and over the next 20 years? (multiple choices would be identified by staff such as housing opportunities, growth, economic development, transportation options, senior needs, recreational facilities, etc., as well as an opportunity for additional comments)

Staff recommends that input be provided for the following questions:

  1. What are the primary reasons and objectives for doing an update?

Responses would include perceived problems or weaknesses, or needs for policy guidance. Potential examples could include the provision of a longer term vision and guide, broad and balanced community involvement, clarification of the relationship with other adopted plans, greater integration of community health and sustainability, etc.

  1. What are the most important issues in the General Plan update?

Responses would be important community topics that need discussion and debate. Potential examples could include:

  • Land use – Types, amounts and locations of growth and implementation
  • Housing – Establish the foundations for the next Housing Element period of 2022 – 2030, including available sites
  • Core Area – Vision and types, amounts and locations of growth and implementation
  • Community health
  • Sustainability
  • Social equity, environmental justice and resiliency
  • Infrastructure – Capacities, including with continued infill development
  • Transportation – Evaluate potential adjustments to the recently adopted
  • Transportation Element, depending on directions of other issues
  • Citizen engagement

At this “issues” stage and during other stages of the update, staff will seek input from industry and community experts regarding “best practices” in a General Plan update, particularly in terms of sustainability, environmental justice and resiliency.

  1. In general, do we need targeted updates to parts of the plan, or a mostly new plan? Or somewhere in between, with a scope to be determined?

The current general plan update was adopted in 2001.  That process began in 1993 with the Council establishing assumptions and parameters for the update.  The total cost of that process that culminated in 2000 with the EIR adopted and the General Plan Update adopted in 2001, was $2.8 million including the EIR and staff costs.

Funding at that time came from construction taxes (53%), impact fees (28%), general fund (14%) and other source at 5%.

Staff notes, “The commitment to 14 committees and extensive outreach provided for broad community participation and input throughout the process yet required significant time, costs and staff resources. The plan document resulted in comprehensive sections including Visions, Community Form, Community Facilities and Services, Community Resource Conservation, Community Safety, and Implementation. The sections contained 21 chapters. Many of the goals, policies, standards and actions continue to provide useful guidance.”

For present purposes, “Costs depend on the scope of the General Plan update, including visioning, the number of elements, alternatives being considered, technical studies, community engagement, fiscal impact analysis, and environmental review. Costs can vary from less than $1 million for a targeted update to $3 + million for a comprehensive update. These costs include an Environmental Impact Report.”

Woodland is updating their general plan at a costs of $1.6 million when completed.  “The issues and work scope are comprehensive but a similar effort in Davis would likely require additional budget for citizen involvement.”

Council has budged $300,000 for General Plan Update in the current budget year.  “This amount is currently available from revenues from an ongoing 0.1% Long Range Planning Fee on residential and commercial building permits. These funds could potentially be used for early stage tasks such as existing conditions / trends analysis, initial public outreach, and assistance in scoping options for a General Plan update.”

At this point, staff is requesting the council give direction to proceed with the recommended steps (1 through 5) above.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

Share:

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

61 thoughts on “Council Looks to Take First Steps toward General Plan Update”

  1. Chamber Fan

    What advantage does doing a GPU now give us?

    What are the disadvantages?

    Does it mean more growth?  Easier growth?  Anything policy-wise?

  2. Roberta Millstein

    Why no input from commissions other than the Planning Commission?  Seems like a number of commissions are relevant to the issues identified.

    1. hpierce

      RM:

      All commissions can review docs, and discuss, and represent their discussion conclusions (input) @ PC… all commissioners may also directly participate… they can also participate in the Community Outreach piece of it.  They can also participate in CC consideration… three swings at it…

      Not seeing the problem… depending on the ‘elements’ to be “visited”/updated…

      1. Roberta Millstein

        The Open Space and Habitat Commission, at least, does not meet in August (I can’t say if that is true for the other commissions).  So, that means that it doesn’t get to provide any input in stage 2.

        1. ryankelly

          If you think that it is important for that commission to give input in stage 2, then call a meeting or give the input that you would give at the meeting individually.

        2. Roberta Millstein

          ryankelly, yes, I could suggest a meeting.  But given that we are already down some commissioners and people’s travel during the summer, we’re not likely to have a quorum.  And yes, I could give my own input as a citizen (although I, too, will be traveling).  But I happen to think that the input of a commission is greater than the sum of its parts.  Indeed, that’s the whole point.

        3. ryankelly

          Request that the commission give its input in September (at the same time as the Planning Commission) and schedule a meeting then.

          I’m not missing the point.  I just dislike the lack of initiative to resolve the complaint and immediately reacting with suspicion.

        4. Roberta Millstein

          ryankelly, typically the Planning Commission would look at input from the other commissions.  That doesn’t work if they are meeting in parallel.  I’m not reacting with suspicion.  I’m asking for a change in the timeline.  Why is that such a problem?  I don’t see where extending things by another 30 days would cause any problems.

        5. ryankelly

          Roberta,  It wouldn’t hurt to extend it 30 days and this should be part of the commissions request.  Since it is our own timeline, there is no real deadline.  I just don’t want to wait to start the process until Sept or October.

          I keep wondering about all the people who appear to be gone from Davis on vacation in August.  Why am I not one of these people, I ask myself?

        6. Roberta Millstein

          ryankelly, I don’t see any reason why Phase 2a can’t be started in August, so long as it extends beyond early September with the other dates adjusted accordingly. So yes, I agree, we don’t have to wait to start the process.

    2. Matt Williams

      Roberta, given the very early stages this process is in (developing options), I don’t believe that having a focused team is a problem.  It is not as if that focused team is going to be producing the final product.  As step 2 in the grey box of the Staff Report says, “Obtain initial input about objectives and planning issues.”

      The Commissions will have plenty of time to weigh in as the process progresses.

        1. Matt Williams

          If step 2 was a decision step I would agree with you, but it is only an assembly pre-step.  So my question to you is what transparency will have been compromised?

          When you consider whether “above board” applies, think about the following questions:

          How do the specific skills and experience that the individual members of the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission have relate to the options the City has for identification of timelines, community engagement options, costs and funding options with respect to the General Plan Update process?

          How do the specific skills and experience that the individual members of the Civic Arts Commission have relate to the options the City has for identification of timelines, community engagement options, costs and funding options with respect to the General Plan Update process?

          How do the specific skills and experience that the individual members of the Finance and Budget Commission have relate to the options the City has for identification of timelines, community engagement options, costs and funding options with respect to the General Plan Update process?

          How do the specific skills and experience that the individual members of the Historical Resources Management Commission have relate to the options the City has for identification of timelines, community engagement options, costs and funding options with respect to the General Plan Update process?

          How do the specific skills and experience that the individual members of the Human Relations Commission have relate to the options the City has for identification of timelines, community engagement options, costs and funding options with respect to the General Plan Update process?

          How do the specific skills and experience that the individual members of the Natural Resources Commission have relate to the options the City has for identification of timelines, community engagement options, costs and funding options with respect to the General Plan Update process?

          How do the specific skills and experience that the individual members of the Open Space and Habitat Commission have relate to the options the City has for identification of timelines, community engagement options, costs and funding options with respect to the General Plan Update process?

          How do the specific skills and experience that the individual members of the Recreation and Park Commission have relate to the options the City has for identification of timelines, community engagement options, costs and funding options with respect to the General Plan Update process?

          How do the specific skills and experience that the individual members of the Senior Citizen Commission have relate to the options the City has for identification of timelines, community engagement options, costs and funding options with respect to the General Plan Update process?

          How do the specific skills and experience that the individual members of the Tree Commission have relate to the options the City has for identification of timelines, community engagement options, costs and funding options with respect to the General Plan Update process?

          The simple answer to those eleven questions are that except for the occasional individual exception, none of the individual members of those eleven Commissions have actually been through a General Plan Update.  Any skills and knowledge they might have will be either academic or indirect (for example I personally was a very close observer and citizen participant in the Yolo County General Plan Update process).  If Sidney Vergis were on one of the Davis Commissions, she would be an exception, because as a Yolo County Planning Commissioner she was an active participant in the Yolo County process.

          However, with all the above said, given that there is no immediate crisis, moving the timeline back 30 days is good optics, and addresses your “100% transparent” point.

    3. Michael Harrington

      Roberta:  if you have the time (Eileen, too), may I suggest you print off the table of contents for the current GP, and circle the sections that you think need substantial updates, and add any categories of subjects that should be included, and post that marked up PDF with a short article?  That sets the agenda, and we are not relying on the city to set it.

    1. hpierce

      THAT is a bona fide issue… I’d recommend October, with a minimum of separate commissions… I’d recommend keeping all commissions informed, with opportunity to chew on it, but only formal review by PC and CC.

      1. Matt Williams

        Grok, hpierce and Pugilist, I don’t share your level of concern. I don’t believe this process will be as structured as an EIR, with hard cut off dates for public comment.  I fully expect public comment and community engagement to continue in full flower as part of both parts b. and c. of the initial input stage.  With that said, extending the timelines by 30 days would be good optics.

        2. Obtain initial input about objectives and planning issues, in this order :
         
        a. Community (3 weeks during mid August to early September)
         
        b. Planning Commission (late September)
         
        c. City Council (mid October)

         

        1. Grok

          It seems like setting the objectives of the process is pretty important to everything that follows and the limited community outreach is specifically about the objectives.

        2. Matt Williams

          Grok said . . . “It seems like setting the objectives of the process is pretty important to everything that follows and the limited community outreach is specifically about the objectives.”

          Grok, where in the Staff Report document is “setting the objectives” identified as the purpose of the 2a. step?  The Staff Report is explicit that objectives won’t be set until a target date of February 2017.

          You are seeing demons where there are no demons. Step 2a. is only about gathering initial input about “identification of timelines, community engagement options, costs and funding options.”

          However, even with no demons present, given that there is no immediate crisis that must be addressed, moving the timeline back 30 days is good optics,

           

        3. Grok

          Matt, its right there in the staff report.

          2. Obtain initial input about objectives and planning issues, in this order:

          a. Community (3 weeks during mid August to early September)

           

          Matt, where do you get “The Staff Report is explicit that objectives won’t be set until a target date of February 2017.” 

          Feb 2017 is when they will, “Develop and adopt a formal work plan”

           

        4. Matt Williams

          That is correct Grok.  Objectives aren’t “set” until a workplan is adopted.  Up until then objectives are only being considered (and adjusted and revised and open to community/public input and comment.

          However, as I have said numerous times today, given that there is no immediate crisis that must be addressed, moving the timeline back 30 days is good optics,

        5. Roberta Millstein

          Matt, I think it’s more than good optics.  Often the initial input influences the direction, so it makes sense to do it right.  In other words, it’s good process, too.

        6. Grok

          Matt,

          Please identify any place in the plan beyond step 2a that seeks formal community input as you have suggested in your statement:

          Up until then objectives are only being considered (and adjusted and revised and open to community/public input and comment.

        7. Matt Williams

          Grok, please identify any place in the plan beyond step 2a that forbids/excludes formal community input as you have suggested in your statement.

          With that question asked, when have you ever been part of a Commission or Council or Committee or Task Force meeting where there was no formal community input received in the form of public comment.

          You are sounding more and more like the dot com bubble . . . with your solution already created and your actions simply being the quest to find a problem that has the preconceived parameters of your already formed solution.

          I suggest you read Eileen’s comment in this thread.  She makes solid, open-minded and historically-based points.  I concur with her approach.

        8. Matt Williams

          Roberta Millstein said . . . “Matt, I think it’s more than good optics.  Often the initial input influences the direction, so it makes sense to do it right.  In other words, it’s good process, too.”

          Point well taken Roberta.  That approach makes a lot of sense.

        9. Matt Williams

          Grok said . . .  “Please identify any place in the plan beyond step 2a that seeks formal community input as you have suggested in your statement”

          Grok since you have thrown down the gauntlet, I have bolded the specific references that anticipate formal community input. For example, in Step 3:

          Staff drafts general options for the work plan based on input above and possibly with outside consultation (general options could involve the topics of: visioning, existing conditions analysis, GP chapters/elements, alternatives, community involvement, relationship to specific plans, use of consultants, budgets, and timelines)

          . . . and then in the further explanation of steps 2b and 2c on page 08-3 of the Staff Report 

          Initial input from Planning Commission and City Council (steps 2b and 2c.

          Staff recommends that input be provided for the following questions:  

          2. What are the most important issues in the General Plan update?
          Responses would be important community topics that need discussion and debate. Potential examples could include:
          — Land use – Types, amounts and locations of growth and implementation
          — Housing – Establish the foundations for the next Housing Element period of 2022-2030, including available sites
          — Core Area – Vision and types, amounts and locations of growth and implementation
          — Community health
          — Sustainability
          — Social equity, environmental justice and resiliency
          — Infrastructure – Capacities, including with continued infill development
          — Transportation – Evaluate potential adjustments to the recently adopted Transportation Element, depending on directions of other issues
          Citizen engagement

          At this “issues” stage and during other stages of the update, staff will seek input from industry and community experts regarding “best practices” in a General Plan update, particularly in terms of sustainability, environmental justice and resiliency .

        10. Grok

          Matt,
          You take 2 bites at the apple but never point to were community input is being sought in the “Steps to Develop Options for How to Approach a General Plan Update” which will all take place before march 2017.
          Every place you reference is how the staff or the council will plan to get community input in the general plan update process that will start sometime after March 2017, but none of them show that community input is being sought in the 5 “Steps to Develop Options for How to Approach a General Plan Update.” 
           
          There is only one place that community input is being sought in the 5 “Steps to Develop Options for How to Approach a General Plan Update” and it’s a web survey that takes place in mostly in August.

        11. Matt Williams

          Grok, you are playing a game of semantics that appears to be driven by a deep pessimism.  You read one sentence of a document out of context and pre-judge the whole document on the basis of your opinion about that one sentence.  If you don’t want a General Plan Update to happen, then why don’t you simply say that instead of playing this semantics game.

          I prefer to go with constructive feedback the way Roberta and Eileen and others have.  You appear to be tied up in nots.

          At this point it is probably best to agree to disagree.

        12. Grok

          Matt, the only negativity and pessimism I see here is what you’re projecting. Pointing out that there is limited community input in the proposed 5 step process is not pessimism; It’s actually optimism for a process that involves the community.
           
          Nothing is being taken out of context, there are no semantic games. The 5 “Steps to Develop Options for How to Approach a General Plan Update” only has community input in section 2a and it’s a web based survey that takes place mostly in August. It’s really simple, and it is really easy to formally expand.

        13. hpierce

          Can we at least get honest about our terminology?  The reality is that”community involvement” is generally code for “activist/extremist involvement”… those who are active, ‘self-select’ for involvement, then say they ‘represent the community’… un-nominated/unelected…

          I’d like to see the citizen participation be by random “draft”… else, suspect the “public” would be only those who want “climate change”, other new “elements”.

          Climate change concerns, etc., can and should be “goals and policies” within the existing elements… lest we end up with a GP with internal inconsistencies/conflicting goals and policies… that would be disasterous…

        14. Matt Williams

          Grok, read your own words.  Not a single constructive suggestion for remedying what you see as process shortcoming(s).  As I said, you are tied up in nots.  You appear to be only interested in criticizing.

          With that said, so you can demonstrate your “optimism for a process that involves the community,” here’s a question for you . . .  “In a perfect world, and we all know there is no such thing as a perfect world, but if there were, how would you structure the General Plan Update process?”

           

        15. Matt Williams

          That’s a good dodge Grok, but the crickets are chirping. The question still stands.

          “In a perfect world, and we all know there is no such thing as a perfect world, but if there were, how would you structure the General Plan Update process?”

  3. Don Shor

    Wow. Makes you wonder why they bothered to underline “initial input” since the accusations are already flying about lack of transparency and rushing things and cutting corners. What is the council supposed to do in August, nothing? How about if you all give the new council and mayor a chance here?

    1. Roberta Millstein

      Well, they could start the process in August – there is nothing wrong with that.  But they could extend the timeline so that all commissions could weigh in and to avoid the time when many citizens are away on vacation.  This is not an accusation, it’s a suggestion.

  4. Ron

    Don:  “What is the council supposed to do in August, nothing?”

    Well, that would be my preference.

    In all seriousness, I’m not sure that the justification to spend $300,000 to do “something” has been defined.  (Perhaps to help keep overly-large infill/development “in check”?  Yeah, right.)

    1. Michael Harrington

      Ron, come on …. of course this GPU idea is doing something:  it’s keeping on the tax dollar payroll all those professional planners that received huge amounts of dough from planning those big three exterior projects.  Gotta keep the team together, right, until the next wave?  Basic sociology of organizations … (My BA is in soc from UCD.)

  5. Grok

    I think the use of a web based survey tool is a good idea, but it should never be the only way the city seeks public input. There also needs to be other non web based opportunities for input. Additionally, any opinion gathering web based or otherwise also needs to have room for open ended comments beyond the directed questions of a survey.

      1. Barack Palin

        The web based approach aren’t true numbers either.  For instance one commenter could have several different accounts and could push ideas that seemingly had many backers when in fact it was all coming from only one individual.

        1. Barack Palin

          Yeah I know Alan.

          No way a developer would ever hire a firm that employed college students and have them flood the website with comments.

  6. Eileen Samitz

    We are fortunate to have a General Plan is a very good document which has been used as a model by other cities. So given that it was an enormous amount of work and expense to create it with over 200 committee members, 14 committees, and thousand of hours cumulatively of public input including review by the entire community, plus our community invested spending over $2 million dollars to develop it and 8 years to finalize it, we don’t need to repeat this. The document has served us well, but we need to determine what info needs to be added to it, like sustainability and climate action sections. Beyond that we would just need to see what specific sections or policies need to be updated, modified, or possibly removed if they are no longer applicable. We certainly do not want to have to go through this entire process again, and the expense to “reinvent the wheel”, nor do we need to when our General Plan just needs some updating.

    On the timeline regarding any updating needed and input from the public to the objectives, I agree that limiting it to 3 weeks in August is not enough and should be extended a few more weeks since people are away on vacation. I also agree that this process should not be rushed.

    1. Michael Harrington

      What?? Who proposed comments from the public to close in August??  It should be AT LEAST mid-October.  Everyone is gone now, many not back until late September.   This idea of public input on subjects and scoping closing in August does not bode well for the City … did this idea come from that senior official from New Homes (they gave Dan Wolk about $20,000 cash for campaign AFTER Dan’s third vote for the Cannery), now partially in charge of our Planning Dept??  Sounds like a New Homes way of doing business …?

  7. Michael Harrington

    This CC is probably going to try and stick in a lot of new housing into the exterior projects.

    If there is a GPU, it should be submitted to the voters for approval.  I can already see the junk the city is going to try and stick us with …

     

    Nishi was a 5-0 vote recommending that pig with green lipstick to the voters, “the worst project ever designed in the City of Davis,” so why would we expect anything better?  The only new CC member, Will Arnold, enthusiastically endorsed Nishi, colored lips and all, as a fantastic project.

  8. Grok

    Reading back over the staff report here is what I see.

    The timeline for “Steps to Develop Options for How to Approach a General Plan Update” runs from July 2016 – March 2017

    Community input is only explicitly sought in the section 2a running Mid August – early September

    The only plan expressed for community input is a web survey.

  9. Marina Kalugin

    he he….look what I missed while away…it is yes on A versus no on A all over again…..the same folks with the same arguments and the developers still pushing their pals on the council and pushing the timeline…

    why is there even a timeline?????  why cannot some of us be on vacation sometimes?????

  10. Marina Kalugin

    and did no-one notice that with West Village getting going again, none of the Nishi and other stuff was ever needed for housing?

    And, the other stuff, well that was not a good location for that either….

    Woodland, and Dixon and other localities, which are now easier for me to get to than to my office on the UCD campus from South Davis…..

    welcomes such developments and the soil and land that those industrial complexes are being built on do not have the higher values…

    neither as farm land, nor buffer, nor toxic buffer to the freeway and train,

    without the high demands that Davis requires, nor the high expectations that Davis also legislates and so on….

    I look forward to participating some on this next reiteration of  a general plan…..  I hope my many old friends and neighbors show up also…

    I understand I am still on some of the old lists, just let me know and if I am in town, or nearby I will show up on occasion…   🙂

     

     

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for