I attended the Tuesday pre meeting of the Planning Commission where the planning staff updated the Planning Commission on the General Plan project. For those who went to the GPAC meeting a few weeks ago it was a summary of that meeting. The presentation had to do with the “vision” part with little more detail.
There was a lot of discussion on the “Vision” whether to take a long view or a short view and how much detail should be included. The goal of the “Vision” statement is that it would be broad enough to not be changed were as the Elements could and mostly would be amended in the future.
I was impressed by the questioning of the head of the planning department by some of the planning commissioners. Erick Peterson asked the question I would have asked, why the city needs 16 Elements when the State only requires 7. An Element is report 20-108 pages long that deals in details of Infrastructure, Traffic, Housing, Historical etc. Erick requested the planning director to come back with reasons why we need each of the optional elements, could they be combined and if we dropped any would we be fined by the State if we did not comply. This is an excellent way to get rid of bureaucracy and red tape and save some money.
Others Commissioners also asked why they only surveyed 600 people. A lot of ideas were thrown about on how to get more people involved, flyers etc. One idea I’ve had would be to have the planning department send or post their surveys and meeting dates on this forum and other forums. The five HB forums I just looked at have a total of 16,610 Members.
My own take on the way the city is going about this is its making more of a production out of the project than it needs to be. If you look at a lot of the Elements much of the information is statistics and charts. You could probably cut and paste a lot of information from the existing Elements to the new Elements.
I’ll be following the process to its competition and will be examining each Element to what has changed and added. This is true whether or not I’m elected to the Council in 2014. At this point I see no reason why we need to spend $2 million dollars for a consultant to help our planning department, but I remain open minded until it done.