General plan important to community |

General plan important to community


Say the phrase general plan and people tune you out. Write the same words and the pages of the paper are turned.

They are not sexy words. They are not warm and fuzzy. Because general plans are blueprints for our communities this should make them important to all of us.

El Dorado County is in the midst of updating its document. The county seems to have some trouble getting one together that works.

In 1996 supervisors adopted a general plan that was essentially filed in the garbage can by a judge because environmental segments were not adequate. Supervisors have spent countless hours trying to craft a document that meets the needs of the citizenry as well as the legal requirements. They have also spent more than $3 million on the plan in that time.

On Tuesday it was disclosed the county needs even more time to finalize the general plan. It hopes to have the final general plan in place next summer. Obviously it is a difficult and complex plan, especially when it is supposed to be the guiding light for the county through 2025.

With the latest extension for people to comment on the general plan, more than 3,600 people had something to say. Each has to be read and addressed. This is good. But at some point it is time to make decisions and stop talking. Hopefully the county will get on the fast track to complete this blue print of our lives without further delay.

Closer to home the city just signed off on its draft housing element of its general plan. The City Council has been wrangling with the housing element for 1.5 years. The council approved the draft on Tuesday. The state has until the end of the year to certify it.

The housing element is one of seven requirements of the city’s general plan. These seven categories are mandated by the state for each city. The state makes sure each city has the other six elements, while it actually takes a hard look at the housing element.

This higher standard also comes with more updates — typically every five years.

Some changes in what region the city is located in and an extension this summer from the state makes it so the next housing element will not be due again until July 2009.

This is the same year the entire general plan will be updated. City general plans usually have a lifespan of 10 years.

The housing element is often one of the more contentious segments of a general plan because it is difficult to blend compassion with the NIMBY factor.

People want all segments of society to be able to live here, but do not want affordable housing in their back yard.

It was smart for the council to remove reference to vacation home rentals in the element. They are a separate animal.

As difficult as it is to accommodate all income levels, it appears the city has done the best it can when we live in an area where the housing inventory and wages are rather stagnant, but the cost of living keeps escalating.

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