Thursday, March 6, 2008

What’s Wrong with the New General Plan?

By Gary Boudreaux
Green Valley Landowners Assn.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors is preparing a new general plan, setting forth principles to guide the evolution of the county in the coming 20 years. Unfortunately, there has been almost no direct citizen involvement in the creation of this plan, raising profound reasons for concern on the part of the average citizen.

So what's wrong with the county's new general plan?

• The proposed plan sets the stage for county-based development, even though our cities have provided effective jurisdiction over residential and commercial development since the county was established. (There is no obvious justification for this change, as the county shares in the fee revenues collected by the cities, and the county would not receive additional tax revenues after the costs of new services were paid.)

• The draft general plan is overly vague in its definitions or intent in utilizing lands within its newly created "municipal service areas," but it is clear that the county intends to encourage development in areas adjacent to existing cities, whether the cities want it or not. This will create poorly mitigated traffic, noise, diminished air quality, uncompensated use of city services, school crowding, and competition for utilities - all with no input from the affected cities.

• The proposed plan puts the county in competition with its cities for development, and interferes with cities' rights of self-determination and their established urban limit lines.

• The proposed general plan runs contrary to all well-known principles of smart or sustainable growth, in which development is planned in areas where there are existing services, not in scattered rural areas with no services or adjacent to municipalities where services must be duplicated.

• The notice of preparation for the plan's environmental impact report was issued before the draft plan was made available. It is obvious that the board is eager to get the plan completed and in front of the voters by Nov. 4 at any cost. The public comment period on the notice was to have expired Feb. 4.

• The proposed general plan clearly favors development interests and large landowners over long-term public interests. It fails to explain the justification for additional development in county areas. It especially fails to explain the general conversion of prime agricultural lands to residential development.

• The environmental impact report assessing the county's draft general plan is being prepared by the same company that was hired to write the general plan itself. How is it possible to objectively critique a work one has just written? Although permissible, the process smacks of conflict of interest and displays the single-minded urgency and profound lack of objectivity of the entire plan.

• County supervisors are establishing mutual sewer and water districts in rural areas to accommodate new developments, yet claim that these measures are not growth-inducing in and of themselves. These proposals, when written into our general plan, will radically and permanently alter rural Solano County.

• The proposed plan sets the stage for future rural land use designation changes by failing to establish concrete measures ensuring the protection of agriculture, habitat or open space. It addresses these critical concerns with vague platitudes.

• The rural character of Solano County is likely to be lost forever. Without public outcry, Solano County will go the way of Sacramento, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

The coming Solano County general plan is a plain and simple land grab and opens the door to unprecedented development, inevitably turning Solano County into an overpopulated, densely developed, urban cityscape. Our Board of Supervisors has no business developing the county in ways that are unsustainable by our infrastructure and our natural resources.

What can the average person do?

They can voice their opinions in writing to the Board of Supervisors.

They can vote against the acceptance of the general plan. Vote for those who care about our county heritage and the future of our county as we enjoy it today.

They can attend the Board of Supervisor meetings and speak out against the wholesale unbalanced sellout of Solano County to development interests.

Our children, and their children, deserve no less.


Information about the general plan and the process for adopting it can be found online at


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