On March 26th, a General Plan Update Workshop was held where about 80 people participated in giving community feedback to help guide Dyett & Bhatia Urban & Regional Planners and the City of Turlock staff while putting together proposals for the Turlock City Planning Commission and the Turlock City Council.
From that workshop, principal planner Leslie Gould officially reported the community’s voice to the Planning Commission and City Council.
“It was an amazing, consistent, unanimous consensus around the community,” said Gould.
People at the workshop overwhelmingly formulated their list of what they like and want to preserve from present day Turlock and what they don’t like and want to change. The community also came up with a prioritized list of accomplishments they would like to achieve from now to 2030.
Turlock Today – People like and want to preserve
– Small-town fell, friendly, feeling of community
– Agricultural buffer and preservation of farmland
– CSU Stanislaus and Schools
– Neighborhoods – well planned new ones, historical ones
– Affordable, high quality utilities
– Downtown preservation/revitalization
– City parks
– Easy to get around, minimal traffic problems
– Quality design and landscaping
– Local economy and shopping
Turlock Today – People want change
– Bike lanes/paths – not enough, disconnected
– Sprawling development – not enough infill
– Not enough youth activities or facilities
– Poor road conditions
– Homelessness – persistent problem, need solutions
– Lack of entertainment (for all ages)
– Safety and investment in west-side neighborhoods, and around Lander Avenue
– Limited transportation options beyond driving
Turlock Tomorrow – Accomplishments by 2030
– Job growth/Economic Development – good jobs, WISP fully developed, Downtown revitalized, City revenues
– Resource and Agriculture Preservation, Sustainability – Ag buffer, city grows up not out, hold the northern boundary, bike system, walking paths, green building
– Small Close-Knit Community – small town feel, good place to raise a family, a community for all ages
– Entertainment, Recreation – places for teens (no car), entertainment destination, recreational amenities
– Low Crime/High Quality of Life – no bad parts of town, lowest crime rate, end homelessness
Based on community input and research, a draft of the vision statement and guiding principles were presented.
General Plan Vision Statement:
Turlock will grow sensibly and compactly, maintaining its small-town feel, while enhancing quality of life, meeting housing needs, and providing high quality jobs and recreation opportunities for its diverse population.
Some of the guiding principles were taken from 2002 Updated General Plan and modified for this Updated General Plan. (Crossed out was from the last General Plan and not relative anymore. Underlined statements are new principles or revisions specifically for our current General Plan Update. The regular typed statements have been carried over from the last General Plan).
1) Establish limits to urban growth that will maintain Turlock as a freestanding city surrounded by productive agricultural land.
2) Maintain an economically and socially diverse population by promoting a greater variety of housing types citywide and a localized mix of housing types in some areas
Provide commercial and industrial sites consistent with Turlock’s growth. Attract new business to Turlock to create well-paying jobs and maintain a good jobs/housing balance.
4) Improve the local and regional circulation system to serve businesses and new residential development.
5) Implement sustainable development and green building principles in City projects and new development projects. Foster development that encourages alternatives to auto use, especially for non-commute trips.
6) Revitalize and enhance older areas of Turlock. Create an economic and social balance among different city sectors. Enhance County islands within the City limits, and annex them to the City if feasible.
7) Manage growth using the Master Planning process to implement General Plan policies and enhance Turlock’s quality of life.
8) Provide a wide variety of recreation and cultural activities for all ages.
Number 3 was done so well in last General Plan Update when the previous Councils designated great industrial and commercial sites (WISP and Monte Vista Crossings). Now it is time to attract businesses to fill those planned developments.
Number 4 was added because circulation is now a major issue since the City of Turlock has so much land for industrial and commercial while potential south east access may be an issue.
Number 5 was added because every city now has to conform according to state mandates.
Vice Mayor Ted Howze also motioned the approved revision of replacing the word “offers” with the word “encourages.” Howze stated that the city can find things to encourage and not offer.
Number 6 was made more explicit compared to the last plan.
Number 7 added the “Master Planning process” as it is now know as an approved trademark of Turlock by its citizens.
Number 8 was a completely new statement as it was expressed so strongly by the community at the workshop.
The statement originally read: Add parks, entertainment uses, and performing arts venues to provide a wide variety of recreation and cultural activities for all ages.
Vice Mayor Howze wanted it to read: Encourage the development of regional recreational facilities, entertainment activities, and arts venues as economically feasible.
Planning Commissioner Soraya Fregosi had concerns on the principle that this was changing the community’s input.
“With regard to these principles, it seems to me the reason we’re doing these workshops is to get the concerns expressed from the people who live in Turlock within the various sections of our community,” said Fregosi. “ I understand that we would want to amend some of the language, but I would caution the Council, since you’ll be voting on this, to not change the focus on what community involvement is providing. These things are very specific, they’re taken from what people gave us feedback. I would just caution that we minimize that and really keep the spirit of what people want to happen.”
Councilwoman Amy Bublak said “If we start with specificity, we limit ourselves.” Bublak made the suggestion that would include everything by having it read: Provide a wide variety of recreation and cultural activities for all ages.
City Planner Debbie Whitmore then suggested adding at the end: such as parks, entertainment uses, and performing arts venues.
Once number 8 was hashed out and revised, the Turlock Planning Commission approved the statement to begin with “provide” and end with “such as parks, entertainment uses, and performing arts.”
The City Council unanimously voted to accepted the proposed vision statement and guiding principles for the Updated General Plan with the revision of number 8 to read as Councilwoman Bublak suggested.
The Housing Element is part of the General Plan but due and completed by Aug 30, 2009 when the state will review it.
Turlock’s greatest housing needs are for the elderly, homeless, and large families. These groups are having the hardest time finding affordable housing in Turlock.
There is a new state law regarding emergency shelters, relating to homeless shelters. All cities must have a zone where a year round emergency shelter is permitted by right. The zone has to allow residential uses. Currently the City of Turlock is not compliant with the new state law.
Both the Turlock Planning Commission and City Council unanimously agreed to direct staff to look at all alternatives for providing a zone that complies with the law.
Each regional planning agency is required to establish housing needs for each community. StanCOG established Turlock’s share to be 3,461 housing units. About 2,000 units are still needed for the 2007-2014 plan. All of those units are in the very, low, and moderate income categories.
The City of Turlock almost has enough zoned land, only shy of about 325 high density units worth. This would total around 22 acres. This estimate may be on the conservative side as a complete inventory is being taken and may prove that the city comes closer to meeting the needs already. The requirements of the state do not make the city responsible for building the houses or having them built, but rather just that they have zoned sites available. The private sector builds housing.
Turlock’s land use inventory and supply data shows that the City of Turlock does not need to extend the General Plan boundary to accommodate the projected growth of 36,000 to 53,000 people over the next 20 years.
To meet the low growth scenario demands, Turlock only needs around 1,000 acres of low density residential land zoned.
If the high end growth scenario is desired, Turlock would need almost 2,000 acres of low density residential, 70 acres of high density residential, and a potential additional 160 acres for office development.
Turlock has almost double the need industrial and residential zoned land to meet even the high growth scenario demands.
Both the Turlock Planning Commission and City Council unanimously voted to let staff work on alternatives to meet the land zoning requirements.
The next step will be drawing alternative sketch plans. This is where the planners will be evaluating traffic, fiscal, and other impacts of all the possibilities. Council will be helping formulate these and then community input will be sought on all the options.
Vice Mayor Howze made a statement saying “I would really like to see our options especially high up projects specifically for our next residential growth to the northwest area, i.e. adjacent to our WISP area. I think it is important as we talk about green growth, and limiting the number of automobile trips, that we have an opportunity to reduce our automobile traffic and build the high density residential that we need in that area that can almost act as our workforce housing for the WISP area. That gives us an opportunity to build bikeable, walkable, communities near where people are going to work and center right around our regional retail area. So as those people go to do their shopping, they don’t have to drive all across town from the east or up from the south (where apparently we’re never going to be able to afford the infrastructure to move them up to the regional area anyway.)”
Some comments were made by Council Members, mostly in regards to growth.
Councilwoman Mary Jackson commented during the meeting saying “I think that Lodi is a great city to copy but Lodi grows at less than 2 percent, just to keep in the back of your minds.”
“This is just an opportunity to say what if, it doesn’t mean our growth is going to go that way,” said Councilwoman Amy Bublak. “A lot of people are concerned about how much growth, but if we’re going to project real high, that doesn’t mean its going to happen. Each council will change and doesn’t have to pass it.”
Bublak said in reference to Howze, “I agree with what he’s saying, it seems that the walkable community would be perfect as well.” Bublak also addressed how the community like how they currently get around town easy and said “This way we wouldn’t have that congestion because it will be on the other side of the freeway.”
Planning Commission Chair Mike Brem said “Sounds like we’re going from the kumbaya to the nuts and bolts. The next process is where it’s really all at, isn’t it?”