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.
Staff recommends a web-based survey tool at this early process stage for ease of participation and administration. Preliminary questions identified by staff are:
- What do you like most about Davis today (in 2016)? (open ended question)
- What do you want Davis to be like in 20 years (in 2036)?(open ended question)
- 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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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