Why I believe a planning commission is necessary
I believe a planning commission, of appointed citizens, can prevent abuse of restrictive zoning ordinances, serving as a watch dog over what the city council tries to advance and enforce.
A planning commission can add more due process and reasonable opportunity for an owner to present their case, more time to come into compliance, or reach an accommodation/compromise when requesting a variance or appealing a code enforcement action.
Planning commissions also review new development and infill development. As eastern Rancho Cordova builds out, plans made a decade earlier will need to be amended, changed to meet the needs of the developers and current residents. A planning commission cannot be directly influenced legally, and gives the citizens a measure of separation and impartiality from developers and special interest.
Infill development along Folsom Blvd will be controversial. A planning commission made of of residents can give citizens more input into what takes shape on Folsom Blvd and give citizens more time to contribute to how those projects can impact existing neighborhoods.
The General Plan update is fast approaching in 2020, and a planning commission can better ensure that changes to our “constitution of land use planning and zoning” reflects the interests and values of all Rancho Cordovans.
The questions commissioners ask aren’t as predetermined or “steered” like council members questions of developers sometimes are. City staff work for the commission and help clarify things when project proponents are deliberately “vague”.
More Rancho Cordovans asking basic questions about our needs and priorities, how projects and ordinances impact residents, not industry spin, steered conversations which exclude our concerns, ultimately diminishing our property rights is what a commission can bring to Rancho Cordova.
My greatest concern is building institutions that ensure residents have access and control of their government beyond the ballot box. We have to work on our “civic infrastructure”, institutions and processes that protect our rights, and the rights of Rancho Cordovans in the future. That will define and distinguish us from just another base town or tired, old brownfield reuse story.
How it would be organized and what authority it would have
The structure and role of planning commissions in California cities is well laid out in a publication produced by the Institute for Local Government titled “Plannning Commissioner’s Handbook”
WHAT IS A PLANNING COMMISSION?
The planning commission is a permanent committee
made up of five or more individuals who have been
appointed by the governing body (city council or board
of supervisors) to review and act on matters related to
planning and development. Most planning
commissioners are lay people without any previous land
use experience. Commissioners serve at the pleasure of
the council or board of supervisors, so commission
membership may change in response to changes in those
bodies. A local agency need not create a planning
commission; in some jurisdictions, the governing body
functions in that capacity.
Authority is derived from California Government Code Section 65101.
Planning commission duties vary depending on the
jurisdiction. You can learn about your commission’sparticular responsibilities by asking the planningdepartment. Most commissions have the followingresponsibilities:• General Plan. Assist in writing the general plan andhold public hearings on its adoption. (The governingbody retains authority to actually adopt the generalplan.) Promote public interest in the general plan.Consult with and advise public officials and agencies,utilities, organizations, and the public regardingimplementation of the general plan. Also review,hold hearings on, and act upon proposedamendments to the plan.• Specific Plans. Assist in writing any specific plans orcommunity plans and hold public hearings on suchplans. (The governing body retains authority toactually adopt specific plans.) Also review, holdhearings on, and act upon proposed amendments tosuch plans.• Zoning and Subdivision Maps. Review, hold hearingson, and act upon zoning ordinances, maps,conditional use permits, and variances. Similarlyconsider subdivision applications.• Individual Project Approvals. Review individualprojects for consistency with the general plan, anyapplicable specific plans, the zoning ordinance, andother land use policies and regulations.• Report on Capital Improvements Plans. Annuallyreview the jurisdiction’s capital improvementsprogram and the public works projects of other localagencies for consistency with the general plan.
• Hear Appeals of Zoning Administrator Decisions. The Planning Commission hears appeals of Zoning Administrator decisions. In addition, in some instances the Zoning Administrator may refer items up to the Planning Commission for review or Planning Commissioners may call up Zoning Administrator decisions for review.
Coordinate Planning Efforts. Coordinate local plans and programs with those of other public agencies.
Consider Land Acquisitions. Report to the governing body on the consistency of proposed public land acquisition or disposal with the general plan.
Special Studies. Undertake special planning studies as needed.
The Rancho Cordova Planning Commission helped draft the Folsom Blvd Specific Plan in 2006, which was updated in 2013 without the commission.
We are among only a handful of cities that do not have a planning commission. It is conspicuous and serves to “fast track” a minority interest over that of the majority. Its our right to have a planning commission. It was promised to us by cityhood advocates and city council members running for office. They have broken their promises.
The city cannot substantiate that we :
- discouraged development because we had a planning commission
- discouraged high end or affordable housing project development because of a planning commission
- discouraged retail/hospitality development because of a planning commission
The council has had 7 years without a planning commission. What does Rancho Cordova have to show for it?
City of Roseville successfully attracted and developed Roseville Galleria WITH A PLANNING COMMISSION
We are the ONLY city in Sacramento County that does not have an independent Planning Commision.