Citizens Managed Growth Initiative protects true goals of the Grass Valley General Plan
The Citizens’ Managed Growth initiative very simply states: “The purpose of this initiative is to ensure the orderly future growth and development of the City in a manner that adequately protects the health, safety and welfare of the City’s residents.”
Yet, the June 24 adopted Resolution by the Grass Valley City Council stated: “The “Managed Growth Initiative,” as filed with the City on April 1, 2008, will serve to hinder and constrain the City from implementing the true goals and objectives of the 2020 General Plan.”
It is interesting that the Council resolution says that the initiative will hinder the “true” goals of the 2020 General Plan. Are these “true” goals different than the “stated” goals of the 2020 General Plan? Just what are the differences between these two sets of goals?
The California Supreme Court has called the general plan the “constitution for future development.” The general plan expresses the community’s development goals and embodies public policy relative to the distribution of future land uses, both public and private.”
Does Grass Valley’s City Council have “true” goals for its General Plan and development that the citizens don’t know about?
Unfortunately, that may be the case. Our General Plan “constitution ” allows a generous amount of growth – from 16,000 to 23,395 in the Planning Area by the year 2020. Yet, the City Council voted to accept applications which would double the number of housing units allowed in the big annexation Special Development Areas (SDAs) from 643 to 1263 houses. That same vote could pave the way for 585,000 square feet of retail commercial on Loma Rica Ranch (the equivalent of two large shopping centers) bringing substantial traffic impacts to the already congested Glenbrook Basin.
And even though a survey conducted by the City showed that the main concerns of the citizens were traffic congestion and too fast growth, the City Council has approved various projects since 2000 that have increased densities or permitted significant traffic impacts (like Walgreens). We may be faced with a sales tax measure that asks us to help pay for the Dorsey Drive interchange, which will greatly benefit a few developers, because the City has not collected adequate development fees for it in the past.
That is why the Citizens’ Growth Management Initiative supports holding to our existing General Plan. All the Initiative asks is that the citizens of Grass Valley be allowed to vote on development projects that would allow more and faster growth than allowed by our General Plan by increasing densities inconsistent with the land use map in our General Plan.
With a General Plan that already has significant, unmitigatable impacts, each decision that takes the General Plan beyond its current population projections should be decided by the people of Grass Valley so that we can weigh the impacts against the importance of the project to the future of our community.
This citizens’ initiative will hopefully focus the attention of the City Council and developers on proposing projects that implement the General Plan and benefit the community while protecting the health, safety and welfare of the City’s residents. The result would be to ensure that the “stated” goals of the General Plan remain its “true goals.
Wallace J. Smith lives in Grass Valley.
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