Thursday, July 6, 2006
County Supervisors appear poised to rush yet another project through the approval process. But this time, it’s not a single development. It’s the general plan, the county’s 20-year blueprint for future growth.
“It’s hugely disappointing that the Board of Supervisors wants to repeat the same mistakes as last time,” says Planning Commissioner Keith Vendevere.
Last week, Vendevere and the rest of the commission voted to start another round of hearings on the latest draft general plan on July 19. Between five and eight hearing will be held between July and October. The public will get 45 days—the minimum time required by law—to review the new general plan.
County Supervisors have set an Oct. 18 deadline for the commission to vote on the proposed land-use document. But the final Environmental Impact Report isn’t slated to be finished until Oct. 20, which means that the commission will likely be forced to make recommendations on the plan without reviewing the final EIR.
This is the fourth general plan to come before the planning commission—and the supervisors—in the last six years. In 2004, supervisors voted 3-2 to kill the third draft, nicknamed GPU3, after it had undergone extensive review by the planning commission.
“Ironically,” says Vendevere, “when the board rejected GPU3 without even looking at our recommendations, they stated that our recommendations were worthless because we hadn’t looked at the final EIR. And now they are asking us to looks at the general plan without the EIR again.
“Again, ironically, because the opponents of GPU3 were quite vociferous and demanded that we have the final EIR before we could make comments, and they are, of course, strangely silent now. They also want GPU4 pushed through the process as quickly as possible. If this schedule ends up going, which is far from certain, then we will obviously be making our recommendations based on incomplete information.”
At the planning commission meeting on June 28, commissioners Vandevere, Juan Sanchez, and Martha Diehl argued that a 45-day review period is too short. They said they wanted to see the final EIR before voting up or down on the general plan.
But commissioners Jay Brown and Nancy Isakson urged the panel to push ahead with the speedy review process. Both are newcomers to the commission, appointed earlier this year. Both are also members of the pro-growth Refinement Group, which urged the supervisors to axe GPU3.