The California Strategic Growth Council (SGC) has awarded a $399,000 Sustainable Communities planning grant to the County. The grant allocates funds for nine technical studies and planning projects related to strategic growth. Work on the grant projects began in late 2011.
The Sustainable Community Grant Projects
Complete Communities Research Survey
- Status: Underway
- Completion Date: September, 2013
- Description: Identify what infrastructure and public facilities will be needed in the future in San Miguel, Templeton, Oceano, and Nipomo; how much they will cost; and how to fund them. Examples of infrastructure and public facilities are water, sewer and drainage systems; roads; sidewalks; trails; parks; and public buildings. This study will help the County and the community services districts plan for improvements to the communities.
- Public Involvement: Read the Complete Comunnities Research Summary and the Draft Facilities Inventory and send comments to Brian Pedrotti. The County’s consultants will lead public workshops in early October 2012 in the north county and the south county. Following the workshops, watch for additional reports: a Funding and Financing Plan and a Community Profile for each community.
- Relevant Strategic Growth Policies: Strategically plan communities with adequate resources, services and facilities for long-term growth. Plan inter-connected street systems and bicycle and pedestrian ways within neighborhoods. Plan neighborhoods that can accommodate a variety of housing types that are affordable to all income groups, located close to key destinations serving daily needs.
- Contact: The project manager is Brian Pedrotti, 788-2788.
Infill Subdivision/Development Standards
- Status: Underway
- Time Frame: Fall, 2013
- Description: Ordinance amendments to create subdivision and development standards and remove regulatory barriers, in order to encourage compatible and diverse infill and mixed-use projects.
- Public Involvement: Public workshops were held in October 2012 in north and south county, where preliminary findings of the Infill Standards Background Report were presented and comments were received from community members. The department and our consultant are currently in the process of preparing draft ordinance amendments based on the background report and input from the workshops. We anticipate a Public Review Draft being completed by Summer, 2013. Public comments will be encouraged on the Public Review Draft throughout the time leading up to Public Hearings that are anticipated to start at the Planning Commission in Fall, 2013.
- Relevant Strategic Growth Policies: Enact revisions to the Land Use and Real Property Division Ordinances to revise or introduce regulations that will promote urban infill instead of prevent it. Update the Land Use Ordinance to encourage a diversity of housing (sizes, types, and costs) within subdivisions and neighborhoods. Revise the Countywide Design Guidelines to illustrate how to integrate higher density development within existing neighborhoods.
- Contact: The project manager is Jay Johnson, 781-4573
Community Design Model
- Status: Underway
- Time Frame: September, 2012
- Description: Create a computer model that will rapidly calculate the effects of different land use and growth scenarios on population, employment, water demand, transportation and public facilities demands, greenhouse gas emissions, and numerous other indicators.
- Public Involvement: The County’s consultant will give a demonstration of the model to the Board of Supervisors on October 9, 2012.
- Relevant Strategic Growth Policies: The model will evaluate land use and transportation scenarios to accomplish strategic growth. It will assist in updating the Land Use Element to achieve strategically planned communities that include the following features: a diversity of housing and conveniently located commercial areas, parks, recreation areas, and public spaces and facilities. The model will also assist in public education about compact residential design and building.
- Contact: The project manager is Jeff Legato, 781-5102
Illustrative Design Model
- Status: Nearly Complete
- Time Frame: October, 2012
- Description: Create photo-simulations and computer-simulated “virtual tours” of compact development projects and neighborhoods that include a variety of housing types. This will illustrate how such projects and neighborhoods can be designed to be compatible with local neighborhoods and consistent with strategic growth policies.
- Public Involvement: Look for videos on this web site soon.
- Relevant Strategic Growth Policies: The model will assist in continuing public education efforts about compact residential design and building. It will illustrate how a range of housing types that use land efficiently and are affordable-by-design can fit in with existing neighborhoods and communities.
- Contact: The project manager is Chuck Stevenson, 781-5197
Land Use Economics Study
- Status: Completed. Read the Land Use Economics Study and Appendices.
- Description: This study evaluated the economic, real estate, and fiscal effects of potential growth limitations in rural areas, compared to the effects of continuing the “business as usual” growth trend. The purpose of the study was to provide important information that can be used when considering implementation of the County’s strategic growth principles and policies.
- Results: The study concluded that the two hypothetical rural growth caps evaluated would shift a portion of new rural development to county urban and village areas and to cities. This shift is intended to result in benefits such as preservation of natural and agricultural areas, greater agricultural output, lower automobile emissions, protection of groundwater resources, and reduced costs to provide services such as fire protection in rural areas.
The study estimated that the “modest” growth cap would lead to a lost value of residential construction in the county as a whole, over a 30-year period, in the range of $300 to $400 million (an annual average of about $10 to $13 million) due to the construction of fewer new housing units in rural areas of the county. This would result in a decrease of about 2 percent in residential construction output in the county, and is about 0.05 percent of the county’s annual economic output. The study estimated that an annual loss of $10 million in residential construction value means about a $20 million annual loss to county output, about one-tenth of 1% of the county’s $20 billion dollar annual economy.
The relatively small impact on the regional economy in the aggregate does not mean that there would not be some relatively big impacts on certain businesses or individuals. The groups most directly affected would be those that make their living by producing and selling housing: developers, builders, and realtors. If the effects are concentrated in some areas, it could make business difficult for some builders; some might close.
- Public Involvement: The County’s consultant met with and interviewed private sector experts representing a broad range of economic interests, as well as experts from the public sector. The consultant also conducted additional interviews with business and environmental interests. In addition the County sponsored a community open house on April 25, 2012 to get public feedback on the study’s preliminary findings. On July 17, the consultant presented the study’s findings at a Board of Supervisors meeting..
- Relevant Strategic Growth Policies: Aim to maintain rural areas in agriculture, low-intensity recreation, very low-density residential uses, and open space uses, which preserve and enhance a well-defined rural character. Plan for most future development to be within existing and strategically planned cities and communities.
- Contact: The project manager is Airlin Singewald, 781-5198
Technical Studies for San Miguel Community Plan Update
- Status: Requests for Proposals released
- Time Frame: Early 2013
- Description: The San Miguel Community Plan will be a model for implementing the County’s strategic growth policies and SLOCOG’s Sustainable Communities Strategy. The following studies will be essential in updating the Community Plan and preparing its Environmental Impact Report: 1) an economic strategy, 2) a public facilities financing plan, 3) a transportation study, and 4) a water study.
- Public Involvement: Public input will be encouraged as part of the review of the San Miguel Community Plan.
- Relevant Strategic Growth Policies: Give highest priority to avoiding significant environmental impacts from development through site and project design. Where such impacts cannot be avoided, minimize them to the maximum extent feasible. Give high priority to funding needed infrastructure improvements in a timely manner within existing and strategically planned urban and village areas. Avoid the use of public resources, services and facilities beyond their renewable capacities.
- Contact: The project manager is Michael Conger, 781-5136
The Strategic Growth-related studies and projects will provide the information, tools and recommendations to help implement the County’s strategic growth policies. For example, the studies will help create strategically planned communities through updates of community plans and revisions to ordinances. As a result, strategic growth will be tailored to local conditions and public preferences.