General plans — state mandated planning documents designed to serve as a blueprint for a community’s growth — are viewed by critics often times as merely cobbling together politically correct polices.
It is an exercise in many cities to simply meet minimum state requirements regarding land use. open space, conservation, and housing including affordable options, traffic circulation, noise, and safety so they can legally keep growing.
But in some cities general plans are fashioned beyond what it would take to get a stamp of approval from various state agencies that must sign off on the document before it can be official. In those jurisdictions there is a buy in for policies that truly tailor development patterns to reflect community goals instead of creating a city that is for all practical purposes carbon copies of other cities.
Manteca is about to embark on an update of its general plan that will go into effect in 2020 and serve as the framework through 2040 when Manteca’s population could push 120,000 residents. The city currently has 76,000 residents.
The City Council is forming a General Plan Advisory Committee to work with a consulting firm as well as staff to fashion the updated plan.
Mayor Steve DeBrum — with the council’s consent — has decided it will consist of 15 citizens. Each council member will make three appointments apiece from an applicant pool. The deadline to apply is March 24 at 5 p.m. through City Clerk Lisa Blackmon. She can be contacted at Lblackmon@manteca.ca.us or by calling 209.4556.8017.
City residents as well as San Joaquin County residents — especially those in rural areas adjacent to Manteca that are in the sphere of influence — can apply.
Meetings will take place once a month. They could occur more or less frequently based on how the process is proceeding. The committee is expected to be through with its work by March 2020.
The goal is to put together a cross-section of the community touching on neighborhood groups, residents, businesses, civic and community organizations, residents, development interests and resource conservation interests.
Two decades ago the city put together a similar committee dubbing it the Vision 2020 Task Force. They were tasked with devising a vision as to what the city should look like as well as offer in terms of amenities when the year 2020 rolled around.
Much of the improvements that have happened downtown since 2000 — the mural project, the Library Park expansion, the Tidewater-style streetscape such as traffic and street lights, as well as the transit station — were among what the Vision 2020 Task Force identified as desirable.
Most goals in the current general plan are general in nature — as the name applies — and therefore somewhat ambiguous. It talks about affordable housing, for example, and identified various ways that could happen. A year ago when Councilman Richard Silverman asked whether the city was meeting affordable housing goals amid skyrocketing rents and a lack of apartments being built staff told him the city was as the general plan had identified enough areas on a map in the right colors to accommodate required state set asides for future affordable housing.
The city did adopt a housing element and an action plan. Critics, contend, for the most part it is nothing more than words on paper since there hasn’t been active engagement to accomplish those general goals through new residential development being pursued exclusively by the private sector.
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