Watsonville Backs Off Buena Vista Growth Plan

WATSONVILLE – The city will not appeal a judgment against its 2030 general plan to the state Supreme Court, officials said. Watsonville backs off Buena Vista growth plan; City Won’t Appeal Ruling Against 2030 General Plan
The City Council instead is expected on May 11 to rescind the development blueprint that called for building hundreds of homes north of the airport and an accompanying environmental study.

A state appeals court in March upheld a lower court ruling that said the city shouldn’t have removed runway safety zones to clear the way for new housing and should have studied traffic and alternative options to growth before approving the general plan.

Dan Chauvet, a member of the Watsonville Pilots Association, (a CALPILOTS Chapter – Editor) called the city’s decision to end the legal fight “good news.” “It’s a big win for all kinds of people,” Chauvet said. “As a matter of fact, I don’t see the city lost in this thing. Maybe some individuals lost, but the city, they won an airport. They already owned it, but they were about to lose it.”

The council approved the general plan, which was to guide development for two decades, on a close vote in 2006. The plan included an expansion into a rural area north of the airport around Buena Vista Road . The pilot group, Friends of Buena Vista, a neighborhood advocacy group concerned about losing the rural character of their community, and the Sierra Club filed legal challenges.

The pilots worried new neighborhoods near the Watsonville Municipal Airport would increase risk for pilots and people on the ground, as well as set up potential conflicts over noise.

By eliminating some safety zones around a secondary runway, the city had opened the door for as many as 2,100 homes to be built in the area, as well as day care centers, nursing homes and schools.

City Manager Carlos Palacios said it will take at least a year for the city to rework the general plan and the environmental study, and that planning for housing would be a challenge. While state requirements for housing recently were reduced 40 percent due to the poor economy, he said planners across the state expect the numbers to shoot up again in 2013 since California ‘s population continues to grow.

Watsonville’s boundaries are constrained by a voter-initiative until 2027, Palacios said. “So how do we accommodate that growth with the Measure U urban limit line and the reduced (housing) densities around the airport?” he asked.

Editor’s Note: The answer to your question Mr. Palacios is you do it legally, by following the law and the process. Instead of trying to circumvent it all as you tried to achieve these local land developer generated goals.


Update:

This evening (May 11, 2010) , the council voted 7-0 to rescind the 2030 GP, the 2030 EIR, Res. 74-05, and the Statement of Overriding Considerations (part of the resolution recinding the EIR, as explained by Keith Boyle).  So our statement and the supporting statement by FOBV is on the record (great job by Caroline Post, FOBV).   Plus Darlene Dinn made a statement on behalf of the Farm Bureau.
The council voted 7-0 at the same time to postpone further actions recommended by staff on revising the 2030 Plan, EIR, and WAMP, plus the ALUCP.
So is the main GP lawsuit over (leaving the Lawton suit unresolved)?  We need to monitor all actions by the COW.
Many people were involved in this litigation, from Oregon to CA to AZ to Texas.  Plus the generous and caring locals who financed this win for WVI and all CA airports.
Dan Chavuet

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