The Turlock City Council and Turlock Planning Commission held a public joint meeting where they and the attending citizens were given a presentation on the Updated General Plan process while giving input.
Dyett & Bhatia are a planning firm and have been hired by the City of Turlock to lead this process that has a proposed final approval by the end of 2010.
Leslie Gould, of Dyett & Bhatia, gave a lengthy presentation with much data concerning Turlock’s population, demographics, employment, land availability, and growth projections.
Some of the highlighted data included:
Turlock’s growth projection over the next 15-20 years state Turlock’s population may jump by 30,000 to 50,000 people making Turlock have a population of 120,000.
Turlock’s average household size jumped from 2.6 people in 1990 to 3.2 people in 2007 despite the increase in single people, empty nesters, young newly married, childless, and such.
Turlock currently has 3,800 acres vacant or under utilized and 4,000 acres of urban reserve. With this available land inside the current planned boundaries, Turlock could handle the projected population increase of 30,000 to 50,000 people.
75% of Turlock’s employed commute less than 30 minutes while 46% percent work right here in Turlock.
Turlock residents did give some input during the first public meeting officially kicking off the General Plan Update.
Timm LaVelle questioned the approved date of the process and was told that it should be completed by the end of 2010.
David (DJ) Fransen, former 2008 Turlock City Council Candidate, stated that Turlock did not have to accept the population increase of 30,000 to 50,000 and would hopefully not assume they had to grow while possibly choosing to not grow at all. Fransen said that Turlock is going to be what we decide to make it. He went on to say he’d like to start out a dreamer and look towards redevelop rather than paving over more valuable agricultural land.
Michael Stevens, a biology professor at CSUS, had a primary concern with bike lanes. Stevens pointed out all the bike lanes that don’t connect and look like some plans have not been fully implemented or enforced. Stevens also brought up his concern with how Denair and Turlock appear to be just growing together and could easily do so if the buffer zone is not kept. Last but not least, Stevens pointed out that he had two boys and would like to see more variety in park design while including restrooms.
Jesse James Shahen, a S. Golden State Blvd. resident, wanted to address the S. Golden State Blvd + S. Berkeley intersection. City Engineer Mike Pitcock stated that the intersection is currently in the county’s jurisdiction.
Usyooash Stepans, a resident since 1964, first asked if the meeting was televised and suggested that since it wasn’t, it should be. Stepans stated that back when he moved to Turlock there were around 5,000 people and everyone was happy with how good they had it. He now feels that with 70,000 people, more congestion, and sometimes inadequate police protection, that the older people in Turlock don’t like this. Stepans’ wish is that Turlock does not grow more than what it is and to enjoy a nice beautiful Turlock.
Martha Cisneros, a CSUS student, stated that she was attracted to Turlock because of the university and that there should be more of a “buy-in” from them. She suggested that the CSU Stanislaus should be at the table or that the City of Turlock should be at their table.
The Council started out this process with few questions and general statements.
Mayor John Lazar questioned if the impacts of possibly becoming a regional center for waste water treatment would be looked at. Lazar was told that isn’t part of the General Plan Update but rather part of the city’s master planning process but that they could provide the city with related data.
Councilwoman Bublak asked that this process address Turlock’s demographics and incorporate outreach through the Assyrian television channel, other languages, and such.
Councilman Kurt Spycher stated earlier in the meeting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s classified prime agricultural land in north west Turlock would not be “prime” once the West Side Industrial Specific Plan, located just to the south, came to fruition.
Councilman Spycher also pointed out towards the end of the meeting that the cycle of bringing jobs and providing housing for those workers is a complex one.
Councilwoman Mary Jackson wanted to thank the public for coming out and was pleased by the number of attendees.
Turlock Planning Commissioners took the opportunity to speak towards the end of the meeting but still in general.
Planning Commissioner Elvis Dias questioned if there was a state requirement on how much Turlock had to grow. The answer was “not specifically” but that cities have to meet their fair share of your housing needs in the state and county. Cities do have a lot of power to decide how much they grow, how they grow, and where they grow.
Planning Commissioner Soraya Fregosi took the opportunity to say that this is an exciting time and process as updating the General Plan only happens every 15 or 20 years. Fregosi was pleased with the attendance and believes the participation and discussions will only get better throughout the process.
Planning Commissioner Fregosi stated that her biggest concern was how the facts show that most Turlock residents work in the area, make local wages, and are being priced out of staying here in Turlock.
Fregosi expressed her view of first “getting our house in order” by dealing with our current road conditions, traffic issues, infill lot problems, and such.
Fregosi went on to say that she wanted Turlock to be a place where her kids would want to come back instead of a place to get away from.
Planning Commissioner Victor Pedroza suggested reaching out to specific neighborhoods and that this process should make that effort so that the city could get input from all areas.
Planning Commissioner Mike Brem asked Leslie Gould if she found Turlock to be unique to other cities that they have worked with. Leslie Gould said that Turlock has done an exceptionally good job in planning and planning ahead. Gould said that she wouldn’t say anything if she didn’t mean it.
Planning Commissioner Nick Hackler asked the question if the city could accommodate the projected population increase with the current planning area. The answer was that the 30,000 people could be accommodated within the vacant and underutilized areas and 50,000 if the city uses some its current urban reserves.
Hackler also questioned if the size of the city is related with the amount of educated people as a workforce and if these are factors for businesses, such as Microsoft, who are looking to locate to Turlock. Leslie Gould answered that the size of the city is not so much a factor but that the workforce is definitely a factor. The major determinates are do you have a site, how much does it cost, does it have the utilities and transportation, and does the CEO want to live there.
The first community workshop will be much more informal than the Turlock City Council and Turlock Planning Commission Joint Meeting. The General Plan Update workshop will take place on March 26, 2009 at the Senior Center (1191 Cahill Avenue) at 6pm.
Continue to check the official General Plan Update website at: