A second growth issue heads for the ballot | TheUnion.com

A second growth issue heads for the ballot

A new Grass Valley growth initiative, which sticks closely to the city’s existing general plan, is planned for the November ballot and endorsed by Mayor Mark Johnson and civic leader Peggy Levine, among others.

A copy of the initiative, which is expected to be filed at City Hall by this morning, was obtained by The Union late Monday.

“The implementation of this (latest) initiative will protect and improve the quality of life for the city’s citizens by limiting growth beyond an urban growth boundary, limiting residential development and ensuring developments do not have a negative financial impact upon the city of Grass Valley,” the initiative reads.

If it qualifies for the ballot, Grass Valley voters will be asked to vote on two growth-related measures in the Nov. 3 election – setting up a potentially contentious debate on growth.

Besides the dueling growth initiatives, a third initiative calling for a small sales tax increase for roadway repair and construction in Grass Valley also is expected to wind up on the ballot.

Ballot initiatives are on the rise in California and throughout the nation, though most don’t pass, according to the Initiative and Referendum Institute in Los Angeles.

The highlights of the latest growth initiative include a so-called urban growth boundary, a test of financial soundness of the development and limits on new residental unit growth beyond what is identified in the 2020 Grass Valley general plan.

In short, the initiative closely follows the city’s existing general plan. If approved by voters, it expires on Jan. 31, 2020.

Another growth initiative, called the “managed growth” plan, would effectively lock in the land-use element of the city’s general plan for 18 years beyond the plan’s projection without a vote of the people.

The “managed growth” initiative’s backers include Citizens Concerned Against Traffic and the Rural Quality Coalition, and it has run into stiff opposition at Grass Valley City Hall and among some business leaders.

The latest ballot measure has a long title: It is called the “City of Grass Valley Urban Growth Boundary, Fiscal Assurance and Residential Development Limitation Initiative,” according to the three-page document.

Besides Johnson and Levine, the initiative also is signed by Dennis Cassella, a longtime county worker and member of the Grass Valley personnel commission.

The initiative also is supported by Loma Rica Ranch developer Phil Carville. The Nevada County Contractors Association has not decided whether to take a position, said Keoni Allen, the past president of the group, late Monday.

The urban growth boundary in the initiative refers to boundaries described in the existing general plan.

The limit on residential growth means Grass Valley “shall not issue building permits for residential dwelling units that exceed the projected total number of new housing unitis provided for … in the land-use element of the city’s 2020 general plan.”

In addition, any development exceeding 100 residential units must demonstrate that “projected revenue to the city generated by the development of the proposal exceed the projected expenses incurred by the city to provide city services to the development.”

With recent flat growth, Grass Valley is not matching the population numbers in the general plan, according to City Community Development Director Joe Heckel. Grass Valley’s population now stands at 13,000.

To contact Editor Jeff Pelline, e-mail jpelline@theunion.com or call 477-4235.

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