Joint Board of Supervisors & Planning Commission Meeting San Benito County March 6, 2008
Meeting Agenda • Introduction • Community Visioning • Stakeholders Report • Workshop Report • Mail Survey Report • Work Program Report • Next Steps/Action Items
General Plan Overview • Outlines vision for long-range physical development for San Benito County • Provides specific implementing actions that will allow the vision to be accomplished • Establishes basis for determining if development proposals are in harmony with vision • Allows agencies and developers to design projects that enhance and preserve community resources
Required General Plan Elements • Land Use • Circulation • Conservation • Open Space • Noise • Safety • Housing
Two-Phase Process Phase 1 (this phase): Community visioning and work plan for update Phase 2: General Plan Update and EIR
Stakeholders Report • Meetings with a cross-section of San Benito County stakeholders; January-March 2007 • Conducted in small groups of 4-10 people
Interview Participants There were 57 participants in total representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders: • Residents • Local businesses (employers) • Institutions • Agricultural interests • Housing advocates • Parks and trails interests • Developers • Historic and environmental concerns • Public works providers • Representatives from the County and cities of Hollister and San Juan Bautista • Members of the unincorporated communities of Aromas, Tres Pinos, Ridgemark, Panoche, and Paicines
Sustainable growth and development strategy Stakeholders generally agreed that: • Future growth should be compact to preserve agricultural land and prevent sprawl Ideas for how to direct growth included: • Within and around cities • Along transportation corridors • Clustered in nodes (existing communities, airports, etc.)
Agricultural Preservation and Agro-Industry Development Stakeholders mostly agreed that: • Protecting the unique farmland that exists in the county should be a priority Preservation strategies most mentioned: • Transfer of Development credits • Adjusting zoning (current five-acre parcel size is too small for agricultural uses)
Community Identity • Agriculture/rural character defines the identity. Tension between this and new commuter residents • Key is how to maintain rural character while promoting economic development (no big box retail, e.g.)
Access and Circulation Main concerns: • Lack of cross-county roads and transportation corridors • Two-lane highways are reaching their capacity limits • Routing issues with trucking pose a hazard to other motorists • Unrealized potential for commercial development along transportation corridors • Transit, along with bike lanes, should be expanded and improved
Water, Sewer, and Drainage • Water imbalance between the north and the rest of the county • Availability of water for agricultural uses due to encroachment of homes around farmland • Water quality • Wastewater management (Hollister, the County, and the Water District are currently working on a master plan) • Flooding/drainage issues
Economic Development and Tourism Stakeholders would like to see: • A county-level strategy (currently, economic development only happens at the city level) • Job creation (some thought owner-operated small to medium-sized firms, others preferred larger manufacturers for the higher wages they provide) • Capturing sales tax • A jobs-housing balance • Better promotion of tourism (Pinnacles, Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area, wineries, etc.)
Housing • Need for sustainable housing development (single-family lots should be smaller) • Need for affordable housing (growth restrictions and high demand have pushed up housing prices)
Environmental Resource Protection Issues of concern: • Riparian and mineral resources (need to stabilize sediment levels in the rivers) • Clear Creek (was a harvesting and mining area, now Bureau of Land Management is trying to reclaim as a recreation area) • Pollution/waste management • Wetlands protection
Workshops Report Three community workshops: • October 6, 2007 (Hollister) • October 8, 2007 (San Juan Bautista) • October 10, 2007 (Tres Pinos)
Workshop Agenda • General Plan Overview • Activity #1: Mock Magazine Cover • Activity #2: Issues Dialogue (break into two smaller groups) • Large Group Report Back • Wrap-Up and Adjournment
Activity #1: Mock Magazine Cover • Provided workshop participants with blank covers of California Today—Special Edition: San Benito County, October 15, 2030 • Participants wrote about their hopes for the county’s future
Results: Activity #1 Participants expressed the desire for: • Continued agricultural vitality • Compact development • The need for balance • Open space protection • Economic development
Agricultural Preservation/Vitality Participants spoke of: • Compact, clustered development, infill opportunities, and Transfer of Development Credits (TDC) to help preserve agricultural lands • Agricultural land owner rights
Land Use/Environmental Opportunities Desires: • A balance of land uses • Dense, mixed-use development along current and future roadways • A diversity of lot sizes
Economic Development • More employment opportunities, possibly through • Agritourism/Ecotourism • Small business development/assistance • Using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and enterprise zones to promote commercial development
Transportation/Infrastructure Some key issues that participants introduced included: • Connectivity to freeways (ex. Interstate 5) • More public transit • More bike lanes
Education and Community Opportunities • Locally-based opportunities • Programs for youth • Vocational education
Community Mail Survey: Method • Distributed to all residential addresses in San Benito County and city databases (13,699) • Prepaid, self-addressed envelopes • Responses:English (647) and Spanish (23) • Responses were coded into a database
Community Mail Survey: Findings • What do you like the most about living in San Benito County? • The beautiful weather • The small-town country atmosphere • Far enough away from the big cities and at the same time accessible to attractions such as the coast, cities, camping, and more • Scenic natural landscape and agricultural open space
Community Mail Survey: Findings (cont’d) • Looking ahead, what is the most important thing that should be done to improve San Benito County? • Keep the county rural, agrarian, and uncrowded, while accommodating limited growth • Improve infrastructure • Preserve vital downtowns • Prevent rising crime and gang activity • More jobs, housing, transit, and conveniences
Community Mail Survey: Findings (cont’d) • Planning for the Future: the next 20 years • Respondents could strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree, or state no opinion to a list of 14 possible initiatives. Favorites: • Protecting water quality (87% support) • Protecting environmental resources (70%) • Protecting agricultural resources (69%) • Encouraging employment growth and economic development (65%)
Community Mail Survey: Findings (cont’d) • Over the past 20 years, do you think unincorporated San Benito County has experienced too much, too little, or the right amount of growth?
Community Mail Survey: Findings (cont’d) • Where do you think new growth should be located? • 86% chose within cities as an important component • 46% chose “clustered” development
Community Mail Survey: Findings (cont’d) • Should the County encourage farmland conservation through a transfer of development credits program? • Divided opinion (42% in favor, 45% against) • No apparent differencesby City v County residency, ethnicity, or income.
Community Mail Survey: Findings (cont’d) • Where should the County locate commercial services that provide sales tax revenue and convenience?
Community Mail Survey: Findings (cont’d) • For which types of programs and projects would you support increases in taxes and fees?
Community Mail Survey: Findings (cont’d) • Where do you shop most often for:
Community Mail Survey: Conclusions • Preserve agricultural landscape and heritage • Preserve water and natural resources • Create economic opportunity • Increase accessibility to conveniences • Improve infrastructure to support growth • Growth should be planned and controlled
Work Program: Minimum Updates Status/Last Updated • Land Use Element (1992, amendments through 2005) • Open Space and Conservation Element (1995) • Transportation Element (1990, amendment in 1992) • Noise Element (1980, with amendment in 1984.) • Safety, Seimsic Safety, and Scenic Roads and Highways elements (1980) Update needed?
Work Program: Next Phases • Phase 1: Background Studies/Opportunities & Challenges • Phase 2: Choices • Phase 3: Draft Plan and EIR • Phase 4: Final Plan and EIR
Summarize existing conditions: Land use and population distribution, employment centers, community character, transportation, parks and open space, historic resources, conservation of natural resources, and safety.
Land use/transportation alternatives will be defined and tested (transportation, economic and environmental impacts).
Preferred Plan will be selected and refined in collaboration with the community and decision-makers. Focus will revolve around the major issues identified such as agricultural land preservation, protection of environmental resources, creating economic and job opportunities, and improving infrastructure.
Land Use and Growth Management Economic Development Circulation Open Space and Conservation Urban/Community Design and Preservation Health and Safety Noise