Watsonville ’s General Plan Update – January 2012

The last public meeting regarding the City of Watsonville ’s General Plan update was Wednesday January 18 th. All seats in the large meeting room were taken with some attendees standing.

Airport supporters were well represented, as well as members of the Friends of Buena Vista. Three of Watsonville Pilots Association’s (WPA) presidents were present, Mike McIntyre current president, and two of the past presidents Richard Lippi and Dan Chauvet.

The City’s airport land use planning consultant, David Full (RS&H), presented an outline of proposed update content.

First listed were the required elements and criteria from the October 2011 edition of The California Airport Land Use Planning Handbook. Second was information from General Plan Details and Specifics, a document prepared by the WPA.

A zone map of the Buena Vista area that included zone 1 through 4 was displayed. Those zones are adjusted to a zone size between the state classification of short and medium general aviation runways.  The adjusted zones are consistent with understandings between WPA and the city planning department.

This is acceptable, but the proof of the pudding is the updates written content, which has yet to be prepared.

The WPA has incurred post lawsuit legal expenses related to the preparation of General Plan Details and Specifics, the document Mr. Full referred to.  Four WPA members prepared this document in 2011.

It required extensive review by the attorneys. In addition, a legal document was filed with the Superior Court to preserve WPA’s right to litigate over zone sizes, if necessary.  The purpose of these proactive actions is to increase the odds of future good planning that will keep KWVI fully usable.

An intense discussion involved the number of houses and buildings proposed in Buena Vista outside of runway safety zones 1-4, in zone 6.

The current plans calls for a maximum of 1,300. That’s down from 2,250 in the original General Plan 2030. The Court requires a reduced alternative.

The Friends of Buena Vista pointed out that 1300 is not a reduced alternative when you take out runway safety zones.

Airport land use planning precludes changing zoning to allow building in lands zoned for agriculture. Plus there is considerable existing nonconforming development that counts as density around the airport. City planners/consultant will need to address the 1300 question.

There are a lot of negatives involved in spreading into Buena Vista. Increased water use, and urban sprawl produces more Green House Gases.

Recent legislation, AB 32 and SB 375 discourage more GHC caused by sprawl. There are other environmental issues. Traffic gridlock and congestion on roads and highways is another negative.

A big factor is the economics, the cost of building infrastructure with reduced housing. And, the Farm Bureau could object to building on more prime farmland.

The City does not want to prepare an expensive all-new EIR. They plan use of supplemental EIRs to take care of recent changes. That resulted in considerable questioning.
See: www.ci.watsonville.ca.us/nop.pdf

The city is requesting comments by Feb 6, 2012 on environmental issues that you believe should be addressed in the Supplemental Programmatic EIR.

When an update draft is prepared, it needs to be examined with a fine-toothed comb.

dchauvetDan Chauvet
Watsonville Pilots Association

(CalPilots Editort’s Note: WPA is a Chapter of the California Pilots Association)