By Mary-Jo Bryan
(Editor’s note: These comments were delivered during public comment at last night’s council meeting.)
The City Council must initiate a citizen-based update of the General Plan’s Housing Element. The Davis community must be fully engaged, and with the City Council develop strategies that will meet the housing needs of all citizens including students. Such strategies must determine and address our fair share of student housing.
Many community members, including me, are concerned that the City leaders do not currently have a clearly articulated strategy for addressing the community’s housing needs. The low apartment vacancy rate and the pressure to meet student needs places unrelenting pressure and urgency on our City Council and staff.
Planning is even more critical when land and economic resources are extremely limited. An updated Housing Element that includes current conditions and constraints is critically important, but is unfortunately missing from the planning process at this time.
“How can we satisfy the demands on the City to provide its fair share of student housing and regional growth?” Will piecemeal planning, rezoning and amendments to the General Plan persist? These are serious questions and ones that should be carefully studied and answered.
We have always been a community of citizen participation. We spend valuable time attending City Council and Commission meetings. We read reports, speak at the meetings, and write commentaries and letters to the editor. However, our outdated General Plan frustrates our resolve and efforts.
I am not a “no growth” advocate. I believe in smart growth, good planning and community participation. I don’t see this happening now, and I am willing to take a stand. I would support a moratorium on future housing projects until the City has a formal policy that satisfies the housing needs for our community.
Can we start a dialogue that leads to a real General Plan revision, one in which the community comes together to tackle the issue of providing for a growing population? We cannot stop growth, but we can collectively use our creative talents to come up with strategies and an intelligent plan that will shape the growth of Davis for the future, and at the same time maintain Davis’ uniqueness and quality of life.