Grass Valley takes step to oppose proposed land-use initiative |

Grass Valley takes step to oppose proposed land-use initiative

Grass Valley City Council members are expected to vote in two weeks on a resolution opposing a plan to require public votes on most large developments.

The decision came late Tuesday night after several opponents of the proposed Managed Growth Initiative testified. No one spoke in favor of the initiative, which could be on the Nov. 3 ballot.

If approved by voters, the measure would require public balloting when developers want to build a project that uses a property more intensively than the 2020 General Plan calls for – for example, if a property were zoned for single-family residences, but the developer wanted to build apartments.

The initiative also would extend the life of the current land-use plan, based on a use map created in 1982, until 2038.

According to a summary report reviewed by council members, the initiative could put several infill projects in limbo; push four large developments outside city limits; make it impossible for the city to meet affordable housing mandates; undermine joint planning of projects with the county; encourage sprawl around the city; and jeopardize goals in the other nine elements of the General Plan.

After reviewing the report, council members unanimously voted to direct city staff to prepare a resolution opposing the land-use initiative.

Supporters say the measure would give residents the chance to vote on proposed changes to the land-use element of the general plan, which the city council approved in 1999. Sharon Boivin, a spokeswoman of supporting organization Friends of Grass Valley, could not be reached for comment.

Currently, state law allows the council to make up to five changes a year to its General Plan. One recent change was to allow projects to mix residences with either commercial or office space – a design being advocated nationwide to make commercial areas more people-friendly.

Those projects – Olympia Plaza II, the Whiting Street project and the Village on South Auburn Street – could be impacted if the initiative were approved, according to the city’s staff report.

The City Council likely will vote on a resolution opposing the initiative at its next meeting on May 27, Mayor Mark Johnson said.

Council options

The county elections office has 30 working days to verify the 874 signatures submitted by Friends of Grass Valley. They need 627 verified signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot, County Clerk-Recorder Gregory Diaz said.

The verification process could be completed by the end of this month, Diaz said. Then, City Council members have a choice: Vote to approve the initiative, to put it on the November ballot or ask city staff to further study the impact of the measure for up to 30 days.

To contact Staff Writer Pat Butler, e-mail or call 477-4239.

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