Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Sorting Things Out in Wells-Saticoy

After our special workshop meeting with the Planning Commission regarding Wells-Saticoy back on November 15, Mayor Morehouse and I thought there was some confusion regarding how the staff should proceed. After all, we seemed (as usual!) to be asking our planning staff for everything at once -- do the Community Plan, process all the Specific Plans, and do everything perfectly and all at the same time. The basic problem, however, was that the Community Plan schedule had slid -- it won't be adopted till late in 2007 -- which meant the Specific Plans proposed by individual developers would move forward far in advance of the Community Plan. So we put an item on last night's agenda asking our colleagues on the council to clarify everything.

We were a bit surprised at how confused everyone was by our claim that there was confusion! Most of the developers said there was no confusion at all -- the Specific Plans should move forwared as fast as possible. Nevertheless, I had a basic concern, which went like this:

We have instructed the staff to move both the Community Plan and the landowner Specific Plans forward simultaneously. The Draft Community Plan will be released in January and probably won't be adopted until September or so because of CEQA review and so forth. But the individual Specific Plans are likely to come to us much sooner -- the first one being Parklands, which could come to us as soon as March. How can we adopt a Specific Plan and make sure it fits into the Community Plan if the Community Plan itself isn't adopted?

The planning staff assured us that they were integrating everything to make sure the Specific Plans and the Community Plan fit together. This sounds great, but what if the Planning Commission and the Council don't really like the draft Community Plan that is being integrated with the Specific Plans?

As you might expect, we went round and round on this for three hours. Eventually, however, we came up with this solution: We will have a joint workshop with the Planning Commission in February, at which we will provide "policy direction" on the draft Community Plan. Translation: In February we'll give an informal thumbs-up or thumbs-down to the basic policy ideas in the Community Plan, then use those policy ideas as a yardstick against which to measure the Specific Plans if they come through the pipeline faster than the Community Plan.

PS -- Even though everybody calls it "Wells-Saticoy," the official name is the "Saticoy & Wells Community Plan." Here's the link for more info on the city web site: http://www.ci.ventura.ca.us/depts/comm_dev/planning_communities/wells-saticoy.asp

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