On Oct 30th a revised set of strict City Planning Regulations was presented and discussed at a joint meeting of the City Council and Planning Commission. These are the new regulations to implement the recently adopted new General Plan. The full video of the FIVE HOUR joint meeting is below. As an ALTERNATIVE we have separated the video into smaller segments, by chapter, following the prepared staff outline under the City Council Section. We have provided a Microsoft Word copy of the regulations to allow property owners to provide feedback prior to adoption of the new regulations scheduled for December 13, 2012 by the Citu Council.
The Planning Regulations and the New General Plan are very comprehensive and hard to understand. These regulations are written in a way which even limits the power of the City Council to make any changes. Once the regulations are adopted, if the Council wants to make any changes to the Ordinance, it would have to first be heard by the Planning Commission, and then with their recommendation, the Council would then have the opportunity to make changes. The new regulations essentially take away the power to have any variances, but give more authority to the Staff to make the decision..
The new General Plan and Planning Regulations are written with the attitude the City is doing the property owners a big favor to exercise property rights. The regulations fail to look at financial needs of the City as a whole. They fail to consider the impacts to property owners. The very limited response from property owners, over a five year period, doesn’t matter.? These Regulations also fail to consider the loss of the Redevelopment Agency, where the City will no longer have the power to force property owners to improve their property. The loss of the Agency puts an end to he power of the Staff to contribute money to help “favored property” owners develop projects which conform to city regulations.
These regulations coupled with the City Wide Design Guidelines, will discourage property owners from making improvements.and impair the City’s ability to generate additional necessary tax revenue. The bonus system attached to the regulations is almost an insult. Again failing to recognize the most important aspect of improvements is the ability to collect higher taxes to maintain vital services. The City should seek more direct involvement between the Community and property owners, more ways to generate new ideas, to encourage a mutual understanding and to encourage upgrades to private property.
The Financial projections of the new General Plan are noticeably absent.? That should be a main focus of attention. How important is it for the City to be solvent?
It appears as if the Staff hired very expensive consultants to come in and craft something wonderful for the community to see, creating false expectations, to encourage community support, with absolutely no concern for the impact to business and property owners. Do it our way or you will be forced to wait a long time, pay higher fees with no guarantee projects which don’t conform to these ideas, will ever be approved.
The Staff has created city wide design guidelines with almost no input from property owners. These guidelines are supposed to be advisory. However, if any aspect of a proposed project is interpreted by the staff to trigger design review, the guidelines become the rule of law.
Why should we be limiting opportunities.? Why don’t we encourage property owners to work directly with the community to achieve mutual benefit. Why does the City Staff decide what we need and then spend our money to hire people to influence the community. For all the money spent on this process, the most important aspect is overlooked, actual contact with the folks who own the land being regulated. Why don’t we take the time to invite each property owner to tell the City what they want to do with their land?
Rather than rush to get something adopted for the sake of ending a long process, we should reevaluate our approach, and open new doors of opportunity for property and business owners, o welcome their ideas, rather than mandate unrealistic expectations.