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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

Davis City Council begins general plan update process

As the council starts to update its general plan, the Davis community shares thoughts 

 

By ZOE SMITH — city@theaggie.org

 

On Feb. 20, the Davis City Council began its general plan update process. The need to update the city’s general plan was brought to the city council’s attention by the Davis League of Women of Voters (LWVDA) who put together a General Plan and Community Vision Committee Report called “A Vision of Our Future in Davis: Ideas and Thoughts from the Community.”

This report was initially released to the public on Nov. 6, 2023, after being sent to the city council for review on Sep. 28 of last year. The LWVDA were invited to do a presentation on their report on Feb. 6 at the Davis City Council Chambers. 

Mary Jo Bryan, past LWVDA president and chair of the General Plan and Community Vision Committee, gave the report to the city council alongside Michele Famula, the current president of the LWVDA and member of the Davis league board. 

“We just felt that the report was valuable, that it said to the city council [that] there are a lot of people out there that want to be a part of the process,” Bryan said. “They want to know what’s going on.” 

The original plan was last amended in 2007 and has needed updating for years due to the city’s growth. A general plan articulates a community’s vision for long-term development and serves as a basis for decision-making. Ruth Coleman is a LWVDA member and was involved in some of the focus groups for the Vision of Our Future in Davis report. 

“The experience was very rewarding because there was this real hunger and a real enjoyment that all the people that we met with had an opportunity to meet, serve across disciplines, across interests and start sharing their ideas of imagining what data could be,” Coleman said. 

The state of California mandates that each city’s general plan addresses the elements of land use, circulation (i.e. roads and transportation), housing, conservation, open space, noise, safety and environmental justice. The LWVDA report surveyed over 900 Davis locals on the importance of each item and addressed what the community wanted the city council to update. 

“I’m really optimistic that this general plan is going to bear good fruit,” Coleman said. “I happen to have a daughter who can’t afford to live in Davis, so I’m very hopeful that we can start to find ways to broaden the inclusivity of the city.”

Sherri Metzker, community development director for the city council, surveyed cities in the greater Sacramento area. She found that it took between one to two million dollars to update their plans, which is the average cost for a big project like this.

“The current general plan was adopted in 2001,” Metzker said. “That took about seven years to create. From my experience, that’s about average. I know it sounds horrendously long, but it, unfortunately, is a very complicated document and sometimes requires a great deal of discussion.”

The city council has discussed updating its general plan for over two years. The council’s next step is to find a consulting firm that can assist them in developing a request for a general plan update proposal. 

The council is also taking the steps to form two committees when updating the general plan — one for community engagement and another for solicitation and staff input. 

“The council wants to be very involved in the evolution and progression of this particular general plan to update,” Metzker said. “What this will do is allow for the council to comment on things and make changes to the plan as it moves through the process.” 

At the city council meeting on Feb. 20, public commenters were concerned if the general plan update would create any affordable housing to support the large population of UC Davis students who are unable to find apartments on and off campus. 

“We want to incorporate as many opinions and get as much feedback as we can from various members of the community,” Metzker said. “That’s an important part of the implementation and development of the general plan itself.”

UC Davis professor Catherine Brinkley was a public commenter at the meeting. Brinkley teaches her undergrad students how to do a general plan revision for class. Brinkley suggested creating small grants for local agencies to do workshops and outreach around the general plan update process so that student representation is involved in the updated plan since it wasn’t involved in the downtown plan. 

“It’s important to get everybody’s opinion,” Metzker said. “It’s important to come up with a process where that can happen in the most expeditious way possible.”

 

Written by: Zoe Smith city@theaggie.org

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