Final (?) General Plan Workshop In The Can
Last night city staff and consultants responsible for creating the updated General Plan held what is likely the final public workshop before they begin working on the draft document that will be presented to the Planning Commission and, subsequently, to the City Council.
There was a very small turnout last night. Only fourteen people were in the seats when the meeting began a few minutes after 6:00. The "crowd" grew to around 30 as other meetings in the building wrapped up. However, what it lacked in size it made up for with enthusiasm and tenacity - and frustration.
Many of the attendees have made it to most, if not all, the other such meetings over the past year or so that this process has taken so far. Some were clearly frustrated by the format and the fact that the overwhelming views of participants in some of the prior meetings seem to have been ignored - specifically concerns about high-density housing and traffic.
Last night was billed as follows:
community design, growth management and historical resources" was virtually ignored. Well, the bulk of the meeting was dedicated to those elements and I expect many more residents would have shown up if those items had been more prominently displayed.
Fire Chief Dan Stefano and Police Lieutenant Keith Davis provided an overview of the current status of their departments and also answered specific questions.
FIRE STAFFING AND DEPLOYMENT
Stefano spoke of the new organizational structure, the deployment of the new paramedic ambulances and the possible closure of Fire Station #6. He told us that the new organization configuration is not quite complete, and that they are actively recruiting 5 new firefighter/paramedics.
POLICE STAFFING AND NEW HIRES
Davis spoke of the current staffing levels - around 100 versus the current authorized strength of 136 - and mentioned the recent graduation of five (5) new police officers who have just begun their field training.
THE PROCESS AND CONCERNS
- Concerns about the format and the lack of inclusion of questions/concerns from previous meetings.
- No real analysis of density issues and the current patterns of redevelopment.
- Apparent lack of concern for quality of life issues.
- No indication that water is being considered at all in this process.
- Concern about lack of "lateral" officers being recruited.
- Concern about "police blotter" and "activity log" no longer available.
- Questions about the approval/evaluation process of new building projects by the Fire Department.
- Questions about the closure of Fire Station #6.
- Questions about why we still use a commercial ambulance to transport victims.
- Concern about wider use of traffic signal preemption to facilitate emergency vehicles moving across town.
- Limited publicity of this meeting - hence, the poor turnout. And, difficulty finding info on the City Web site. After much searching you can find the page HERE.
Here are some images of some of the charts used last night and some of the post-it notes with questions/concerns.
ANOTHER YEAR OR SO TO GO
According to the consultant, Laura Stetson, the Draft General Plan will take about 6 months, and the final approval by the council another half a year or so. This is going to end up being a two-year project.
HOUSING ELEMENT DONE
On the brighter side, Director of Development Services, Gary Armstrong, told us that the Housing Element was completed promptly and has been submitted, meaning that the City will only have to update that segment every eight (8) years instead of four (4).
So, now we wait for the draft document to be prepared and the public hearings before the Planning Commission..... humming the Jeopardy! theme...