Land Use Policy Programmatic Update: WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
It’s not uncommon for members of the public who are just becoming aware of the Land Use Policy Programmatic Update (LUPPU) process to ask the question, “Why are we doing this?” The LUPPU process is an important and fundamental effort necessitated by a growing community of relatively undeveloped lands that must consider and implement changing State and Federal and even local laws and mandates.
Land Use Policy Programmatic Update: WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
It’s not uncommon for members of the public who are just becoming aware of the Land Use Policy Programmatic Update (LUPPU) process to ask the question, “Why are we doing this?” It is uncommon to hear this question posed by a semi-regular member Regulatory Reform. Since this occurred recently at a Reg Reform meeting, clearly there is a need to regroup and respond to this relevant question. The question was recently asked in response to public queries being asked throughout the community. The point was well made: How do we clearly tell folks just becoming aware of the LUPPU process, why it’s needed? Staff has asked and answered it in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section on the county LUPPU website.
Although county staff responds factually to this online question, there is a lot more history behind current decisions than may meet the eye. Important foundational issues may have gotten lost in the progress this community has made in moving the LUPPU process forward. Thus we believe it’s time to go back and revisit the history and facts uncovered early on, that led to the LUPPU process, in hope of responding to people who are asking “Why Are We Doing This? Land use facts and questions about ongoing and ever changing growth processes in EDC have been presented to the BOS during the past several years. In fact, an analysis of those public presentations shows that the BOS addressed and made LUPPU decisions over the course of three years. This concluded with no less than 30 times the BOS gave specific direction, in public meetings, on various issues contained within the General Plan Amendment, Zoning Ordinance Update, traffic modeling and transportation programs, and the Design Standards/Land Development Manual processes.
During those presentations and public discussions, the BOS gave directions to further the process of obtaining information and getting answers. The information submitted was not merely based on opinion but included elements of factual data, regulatory data, public and staff input, real world examples, and clarity was provided as to where much needed information was missing. For example: the need for updated traffic modeling and current development statistics, based on ten years of activity under the current General Plan.
In reality the LUPPU process is an important and fundamental effort necessitated by a growing community of relatively undeveloped lands that must consider and implement changing State and Federal and even local laws and mandates.
Foundational FACTS Supporting LUPPU
On November 14, 2011, the Board of Supervisors (BOS) held a public meeting that was fundamental in moving forward targeted amendments to the current 2005 General Plan, an update to the Zoning Ordinance to bring it into consistency with the General Plan, and the newly drafted Land Development Manual, presented by staff for BOS adoption. The LDM, conceived as a compilation of land use policies and mandates, incorporated the Design Standards Manual (technical requirements aka the “Blue Book”) for land development and will also be finalized with the updates.
At the November 14th meeting EDAC/Regulatory Reform Subcommittee formally submitted a binder that included numerouswhite papers and comprehensive issue discussions, from various volunteer working groups throughout the community.
The LUPPU website can be accessed at: http://www.edcgov.us/landuseupdate/
Included was extensive information on Agriculture, Rural Lands, Home Occupations, Timber Production, Industrial and Research, Commercial and Mixed-Use Development, and Mapping Criteria and Rules, for consideration by the BOS as they conducted the required 5-year review of the General Plan and new draft Zoning Ordinance.
The binder submitted was remarkable in that it was full of well-researched and documented information about current issues affecting diverse members of the community, and attempts to meet General Plan policies. The papers were developed around the following five foundational issues as identified by the BOS:
How is the county doing in meeting the General Plan housing goals and mandates?
California counties are mandated by the State to have an adequate and proper General Plan (GP) and are required to review that GP at least every five years. EDC must also provide (plan for) the housing needs of all income levels. The General Plan directed that for the most part housing densities would be directed to the Community Regions (CRs) and Rural Centers (RCs) as a way to “keep EDC rural”. The CRs were identified in the GP based on their access to sewer service and their proximity to major transportation corridors, as well as the historical development of townships. Since the Community Regions are required by the current GP to accommodate the lion’s share of high density housing, retail and commercial and industrial needs for the entire county, and since the CRs and RCs make up only 4% of EDC’s total 1,100,000 acres of land, the theme “Do a lot with a little” is required in developing local regulations. The GP was to accommodate 32,491 new dwelling units (DU) overall to meet state projected EDC population needs of 200,000 countywide by year 2025. Currently approximately 12,470 of those units are built. To meet the State Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) requires that EDC plan for 20,000 more new DUs. Of those, about 30% would be needed for above moderate income families; 20% would be needed for moderate income families (earning from $55,000 to $85,000 annually), and about 50% would be needed for below moderate income families earning less than $55,000 annually. Since providing low-income housing locally requires government subsidies such as grants, the Regulatory Reform input focused on the need to at least meet local moderate-income housing needs.
The LUPPU process to date indicates that under the current GP, overall EDC was “on target” with its forecasts for population and housing, however EDC has built over 90% of new homes for the highest 30% of family income households! Subsequently EDC has been unable to produce homes for moderate-or-low-income families.
The question our community now faces is: “Where are the new 20,000 residential units going to be built? And for whom are they to be built?
2. How is the county doing meeting the General Plans’ jobs creation goals?
3. How is the county doing stemming sales tax leakage of over $800 million annually?
The current General Plan (GP) projected EDC would need 43,000 new jobs to support the desired “jobs-to-housing” ratio (balance) envisioned in the GP. Research shows EDC is losing ground annually in creating jobs for its residents. In 1999 the jobs/housing ratio was 0.68. By 2009 the ratio dropped to 0.49 jobs/housing. To correct this imbalance new job/housing growth would be required at a 1.79 ratio. Clearly, without addressing and correcting the “poison pills” buried within numerous county regulations, there is no way to make such an aggressive course correction. Retail Market Studies completed and submitted to the BOS in the last few years, shows that approximately $800 million in economic revenue leakage is occurring annually. This figure is derived from losses from all segments of our community, including: Tourism (tourists often eat/sleep outside of this county, and tourist-serving entities often shop for discounted, warehouse-priced supplies from adjacent counties where such services exist); Retiree and resident spending (retail spending flows outside EDC for discretionary and essential lifestyle items based on a lack of local competitive options); Natural resource use and production (the last 10-years have produced a significant curtailment of many natural resource industries like logging, mining and grazing (each of which have been over-regulated, or fees levied, making them economically infeasible). Although these effects are often the result of federal and state regulations, public input showed local regulations have exacerbated the negative results.
Research also shows that retail sales leakage and trips to purchase so very many items outside of EDC, have caused most of the job and sales tax, real and personal property tax/revenue losses, resulting in a significant lack of adequate money circulating locally as a result, and affecting local businesses more than local chain stores overall. The policy changes the BOS has requested to be analyzed in the 5-year General Plan review and Zoning Ordinance Update processes are intended to identify solutions and/or analyze solutions proposed by EDAC, Regulatory Reform and the public in general, as part of the LUPPU CEQA process. This effort led to yet another theme for the LUPPU work: “Don’t waste a good EIR” as a means of saving taxpayers’ money by including as many rails of the LUPPU process as possible into one EIR, instead of doing separate EIRs for each.
Next Issue: We’ll continue the recap in the next issue of the Business Alliance…Update wherein we’ll review the last foundational elements of this process by answering:
4. How are we doing in keeping the county rural?
5. How are we doing promoting and protecting our agricultural industry, including its support services?
Business Alliance…Update July 15, 2012
The Business Alliance…Update is a bi-monthly publication of the El Dorado
Business Alliance (BA). The BA is made up of the following organizations: El
Dorado Builders’ Exchange, El Dorado County Association of Realtors
(EDCAR), El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce, North State Building Industry
Association (NSBIA) and Shingle Springs-Cameron Park Chamber of
Commerce. Web Address for Subscription Info: KathyeRussell@gmail.com
“Developing Mutual Support on Community-Wide Issues”