The Board of Supervisors (BOS) will once again address the Land Use Policy Programmatic Update
Business Allience, May. 8, 2012 The April 16th meeting was continued to May 1st and staff is recommending the BOS authorize them to return on May 15th with the CEQA Project Description, an Initial Study and a draft Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the EIR on the Targeted General Plan Amendments (TGPA) and Zoning Ordinance Update (ZOU). The Traffic Demand Model will also be addressed.
Not surprisingly, the BOS has some concerns that the CEQA analysis of the TGPA and ZOU must reflect what is in fact envisioned by the Board. The root of some concerns is traced back to how the General Plan Alternatives were handled during the original pre-2004 General Plan process, wherein assurances were made that a “mix and match” approach could be used to create a blended alternative, and that was later proved to be untrue. Consequently, there is a desire to tie down the exact language early in this process to define exactly what is to be evaluated. The question thus becomes, “When does this need to be done?” To answer this one must understand the complicated CEQA process and how specific public input is handled.
The CEQA Notice of Preparation (NOP) process is mandatory and “officially” triggers the beginning of a 30-day period for public agencies, and the general public, to review the project description and provide comments. The County has already stated they will increase this period to 45-days to ensure adequate review and comment time. By intent this is how a project description is refined by the approving authority (our BOS). During the LUPPU public review timeframe, county staff intends to initiate a series of public “scoping” meetings to solicit public comments. Public agencies are intimately aware of the need to provide documentation of agency concerns during this time period as well.
For the NOP to move forward the project description must be complete, but it does not have to be exhaustive. It must identify
the issues to be addressed, but does not have to specify how each issue will be treated. The documents, including draft language, available for public review, should indicate that the language is subject to change or refinement as a result of comments received during the public review process. It’s important to remember that the overriding purpose of CEQA is to inform the public and decision makers in an open and organized way of the environmental impacts of the project under review, in this case the LUPPU process.
Already opposition to moving the LUPPU forward is being heard. Some believe that there is too much documentation to cover within the NOP’s 45-day public review timeframe. We disagree! This process of reviewing and updating the General Plan and developing a new Zoning Ordinance consistent with the adopted General Plan has been going on for six years! There will always be those who seek to stall moving forward on land use issues. However, the General Plan set timelines with which to accomplish specific goals and updating the Zoning Ordinance is long overdue.
There are issues that require further refinement but generally, the TGPA language reflects BOS direction in wellpublicized Resolutions of Intention (ROI). The BOS may ultimately choose to make some language changes, and may also wish to consider additional changes that result from public comments. The key, however, is to get the NOP “on the street” so that various agencies and the general public are all focused on the same language.
The Zoning Ordinance Update (ZOU) is more problematic. The Zoning ROI identifies components to be analyzed as well as some “optional treatment” items. The General Plan ROI directs that some policies be described more generally in the GP, with specific details moved to the Zoning Ordinance. Although there has been extensive discussion and written comments already provided by numerous individuals regarding each of these zoning items, at prior public hearings before the BOS, a few items have not been addressed. These issues include Planned Development/Density Bonus, alternatives to the 30% open space requirement for Planned Developments, modification of the 30% slope disturbance prohibitions and calculation of riparian setbacks. However, there is adequate time to revise the language by way of the NOP/Scoping process. There is also an interest by some individuals to have the BOS make land use constraining decisions prior to the CEQA analysis occurring. We oppose this position. The point of the range of analysis is to obtain sufficient information with which to ultimately make the best decisions possible. We support that process.
For ongoing and detailed information go to: http://www.edcgov.us/landuseupdate/