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Paul Brotzman: Setting the record straight on the ‘One Valley One Vision’ effort

SCV Voices

Posted: October 14, 2009 8:31 p.m.
Updated: October 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
It is not only unfortunate, but also a disservice to the community that Lynne Plambeck’s Environmentally Speaking column (“One Valley, One Vision: A closer look,” Oct. 1) contains numerous inaccuracies.

The degree of falsehoods begs the question: Is Plambeck innocently misinforming the public or purposely misleading them?  

The city absolutely believes it is “imperative that residents get involved for the future of our valley.”

The city vigorously encourages valley residents to attend county and city public hearings on the One Valley One Vision project.
Perhaps most disappointing about her column is that Plambeck is doing a disservice by stating to the community that it does not have, nor has been given, an opportunity to participate.

Since the initiation of OVOV in late 2000, there has been a comprehensive, inclusive approach to reaching out to the residents of this valley and obtaining input.

The initial highlight of this effort resulted in a valley congress in 2001, with scores of participants who created and ratified a set of guiding principles to develop this general plan.  

The OVOV team has met with more than 35 stakeholder groups and had meetings with local organizations and agencies including town councils, water purveyors, school districts, community groups, the Chamber of Commerce, utility providers and other city committees.

More than 20 community meetings and workshops, more than 11 hearings and/or presentations to the Planning Commission and City Council about various aspects of OVOV, three public workshops in 2007, four public workshops in 2008 and six publicly noticed Planning Commission study sessions also were held.

Additionally, the city’s Web outreach — including videos on the city’s Web site and YouTube, as well as a complete OVOV Web site — was created to provide information, a calendar of meetings and opportunities for participation.

The city estimates that collectively, these efforts reached thousands of residents.

Below are corrections to Plambeck’s misrepresentations of the Joint General Plan.

n Hillsides: The development community would emphatically disagree that the city has “never once enforced the rule” of our ridgeline ordinance and regularly complains that the city is too strict with its interpretation. Perhaps this is an indication that the city has struck the proper balance between protecting the environment and approving appropriate development: Neither the environmentalists nor the developers are satisfied with how we interpret hillside regulations.  

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Oak Trees: All development projects in the city are required first to minimize their impacts on protected oak trees through project design. In the event that an oak tree cannot be reasonably avoided, developers are required to mitigate any oak tree impacts via planting of replacement oaks or paying substantial mitigation fees to fund the planting of oaks off-site. Often, the Planning Commission will require additional oak tree mitigation for the loss of any oaks even above and beyond what the ordinance requires.  
n Significant Ecological Areas: The city recognizes the same SEAs as the county. Plambeck states that all development is or should be prohibited within SEA or floodway areas. This is neither the case in the city nor the county. SEA and floodway designations denote special, rigorous review criteria and special resources to protect and special hazards to be addressed. Neither the city nor the county can legally deny all developments in SEAs without facing the threat of inverse condemnation, thereby exposing the city or county, and ultimately the taxpayer, to a major financial burden.

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Development Monitoring System: The city’s environmental and cumulative review executed for every project exceeds that of the formal DMS Plambeck referenced. The city and county have chosen not to include a DMS in its General Plan documents because the tool is outdated.  

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OVOV Vision: OVOV does not “promote a build-out of over 500,000 people.” The existing General Plan documents for the city and the county — which Ms. Plambeck takes credit for her organization helping to create — accommodate a build-out of approximately 500,000 people. OVOV suggests that the ultimate build-out carrying capacity of the proposed land uses could be approximately 460,000 to 485,000 persons. Thus, OVOV does not increase the potential build-out densities of this valley.

OVOV encourages developments within urban limits near existing public transit and infrastructure in order to reduce potential environmental impacts.

OVOV is designed to ensure that as development builds out, many of the concerns Plambeck highlights are addressed.  

Finally, the city supports the objective of every resident being involved in their local government.

Specific to OVOV, the city and county will be holding additional public meetings on this project over the next few months.

For more information, please contact the city’s planning division at (661) 255-4330. We welcome everyone’s informed participation.

Paul Brotzman is the city’s director of community development. His column reflects his own opinions and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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