Amid all the talk about infrastructure master plans, growth management ordinance guidelines and sequencing of processing development applications in urban reserve areas, we wonder if it’s possible to peel away the jargon and see some progress in the planning of Tracy’s future?
During this week’s initial staff presentation of the city’s revised growth plan, we saw a glimmer of what we’ve opined about for the better part of 16 years. The proposed plan requires a hierarchy of steps to be taken before new residential development can take place. It asks the city to earmark future roads, parks, water and sewer lines and other foundations before it grows. And it asks developers to meet certain priorities before they take out building permits.
The council seems clear about some of its priorities: It wants an aquatic center. It doesn’t want to ignore the downtown and “infill” properties. And it wants to negotiate deals with developers of two proposed housing projects — Tracy Hills and Ellis.
The community, of course, has had its priorities defined in the ballot box when it passed the slow-growth Measure A in 2000, when it defeated two measures in 2004 that would have given housing permits to Tracy Hills and Ellis despite Measure A, and when it handed defeat to a ticket of slow-growth candidates in 2006.
But is 2008 the time for decisions about developer agreements and endless debates over RGAs? A residential growth allotment, which is equivalent to what’s required to get a building permit, has never created long-term jobs or a transportation plan that addresses the needs of the community far into the future. The fight over the holy RGA and “who gets to develop first” has been a useless conversation for the last eight years, preventing us from having a real discussion about the important challenges and opportunities that confront our future.
Our elected officials are getting ready to vote in June on a new growth management plan that will set the city’s process of growth for the next 10 to 30 years. But are we really ready to vote on anything?
Our view is unchanged: Tracy needs a far-reaching vision, with an expansive master plan for growth. The plan should start with a clear understanding of how the movement of goods, services and people occurs in, out and around the community. The plan for where jobs will be created could grow in tandem with the transportation plan, and common areas for the common good would become part of the equation.
Then, and only then, do we figure out our housing balance and where it is most appropriate.