City staff and the consultants, Dyett and Bhatia, presented four conceptual land use alternatives to be considered by the Turlock Planning Commission.
Population and growth projections for 2030 developed by Economic and Planning Systems (EPS) for the Turlock Existing Conditions Report forecasts Turlock’s population to increase from its current 70,000 to 105,000 on the low end (a 50 percent increase) to 125,000 on the high end (a 90 percent increase).
In order to compare General Plan alternative land use scenarios on an “apples to apples” basis, a single population projection is used: the midpoint between the low and high growth projections. Therefore, every alternative assumes a population of 115,000 (45,000 above the current 70,000) by 2030.
Staff and the consultants, Dyett and Bhatia, have developed four conceptual land use alternatives for consideration by the Planning Commission. The booklet describing these alternatives is available for free download at: http://www.gpupdate.turlock.ca.us/
Because the City already has sufficient land inventory to support projected commercial and industrial development, the focus of these alternatives is to provide sufficient land capacity to accommodate projected residential development needs.
Staff made a commitment to the City Council to bring these land use alternative concepts back for Council review prior to conducting any additional community meetings. This report gives the Planning Commission an opportunity to provide input into the Council’s deliberation. These alternatives are presented at a very high level, describing potential residential growth alternatives in terms of neighborhood compactness, rather than identifying specific land use classifications. The consultant has provided a visual palette of neighborhood development types, using examples drawn from recently developed residential projects in other cities, to illustrate each level of neighborhood compactness.
In preparing the new General Plan, staff has directed the consultant to prepare a more flexible master planning approach that focuses less on identifying the location and mix of land use classifications for new growth areas, and instead focuses on master plan performance goals and policies. These performance goals and policies would describe the City’s goals and objectives for development of a master plan area, but would allow more flexibility when the master plan is prepared at a later date. The alternatives described in this booklet are the first step in developing these performance goals.
The four alternatives presented in this booklet focus on two of the potential growth areas – the Southeast and Northwest areas. The Northeast and Southwest areas have not been included in any of these concept alternatives. The reason for this is two-fold. First, to focus the extension of urban infrastructure into more compact residential neighborhoods, thereby reducing the cost of development to the City, developers and the public. Second, to reduce environmental impacts on prime farmland and air quality.
Each alternative is designed to meet a future housing growth target of approximately 15,000 units. Infill development is assumed in each alternative. Each alternative assumes more compact development than has historically occurred in the City of Turlock to reduce the consumption of prime farmland, reduce emissions, and reduce the infrastructure and service costs associated with low density development.
Alternative A (Southeast Only): Focuses development in the Southeast area reflecting the growth policies of the current General Plan. A new highway 99 interchange in the Southeast area would be required to support development of a portion of the new growth area.
Alternative B (Northwest Emphasis): Shifts development to the northwest in very compact neighborhoods. Some portions of the Southeast area would still be needed to accommodate the housing growth target of approximately 15,000 units. The Taylor Road, Monte Vista, and Fulkerth interchanges would need to be upgraded to accommodate residential development in the Northwest area.
Alternative C (Most Compact): Minimizes impact on prime farmland by directing new development into both the Northwest and Southeast areas in very compact neighborhoods. This alternative would not require the improvement of Taylor Road interchange and may avoid the development of a new interchange in the Southeast area.
Alternative D (Moderate Compact): Distributes growth between Northwest and Southeast area with the objective of avoiding a new interchange in the Southeast area. Taylor Road, Monte Vista, and Fulkerth interchanges would need to be upgraded to accommodate this alternative.
In all four cases, the level of development in the region as a whole may trigger the need for interchange improvements at Lander, West Main and Fulkerth, as well as the construction of a new interchange in the Southeast area and upgrades at Taylor Road, as these interchanges serve unincorporated communities such as Denair, Hilmar and Delhi that are planned to grow over the next 20 years. In addition, growth in truck traffic could trigger these improvements.
Input and Policy Questions
Staff was seeking input from the Planning Commission on the following questions:
1) Do these four alternatives cover the range of growth scenarios that the Commission would like to study further? Or are there other areas of potential growth that the Commission wants to investigate?
2) Is the Planning Commission comfortable with the type of development proposed as measured in terms of neighborhood compactness? Or would the Commission like to see more or less compact neighborhood types?
Turlock Planning Commission Chair Mike Brem stated that he was not comfortable with any option including growth in the northwest.
Brem stated that he felt downtown was important and that growing northwest would leave it behind. Brem said that once Turlock jumps over to the west it wouldn’t stop.
Commissioner Soraya Fregosi stated the water was a huge issue for her and questioned if water has been considered enough while planning future growth.
Fregosi also referenced previous public forums and the desire to preserve ag land. Fregosi didn’t feel that the northwest scenario went against that desire.
Commissioner Nick Hackler expressed his desire to see a master plan that would include a golf course development.
With only a handful of people from the public in attendance, only two people joined in the discussion.
David Fransen spoke stating he didn’t think Turlock had to accept growing to 115,000 and questioned who already decided that these alternatives were to only include planning for a population growth of 115,000.
The questioned was answered by many people that Turlock is planning for 115,000 just incase we grow to the projection but that planning for growth doesn’t necessarily mean that Turlock actually will grow to the limit.
Fransen also asked why a developer would choose to develop more challenging and costly infill areas when easier and more affordable 200 acres of land would be available.
No answer was given.
Fransen then pointed out that either scenario of growing northwest or southeast would still impact the entire city such as trips to the centrally located hospital and that the city can’t even keep up with the maintenance of current infrastructure.
Fransen asked that an alternative plan considering a more limited growth scenario while only focusing on the infill development be included in the decision on how Turlock grows
Chris Kiriakou asked for confirmation of Turlock’s needs for low income and very low income housing.
The answer confirmed that Turlock’s population has needs for low and very low income housing for the future.
Kiriakou pointed out that growth scenarios B and C provided the highest density development and that higher density typically translates into more affordable housing. Kiriakou noted that both scenarios B and C included northwest development and that the area should be considered for future growth.
Commissioner Elvis Dias asked the Turlock Planning Commissioners if a more limited growth scenario including mostly focusing on infill development should be considered.
None of the Commissioners spoke in favor of the idea while Commissioners Mike Brem, Jeff Hillberg, and Nick Hackler were vocally opposed to the option.
Commissioner Hackler also stated that all the options presented should be left open and looked into more, especially the unmentioned northeast along with the considered northwest.
No action was taken as city staff and consultants are trying to get feedback as they continue to develop the more detailed proposed alternatives that will ultimately be decided by the Turlock City Council.