Observations from the March 14 planning commission workshop

 I would like to thank all of you who have written or called the planning department, and those of you who showed up at the planning commission meeting last Thursday, March 14. 

I value your input and feedback as we go through the process of rezoning. Based on the public comments at the meeting I believe the following points need to be addressed.

One issue that came us is that some may not know how one becomes a planning commissioner. I, myself, saw an advertisement for the position in the Sanger Herald. I then went to the City’s website and filled out an application. I was then interviewed by the mayor and appointed to the commission by the city council.

We, planning commissioners, are just like everyone else. We live in Sanger, have families, kids, jobs, and live paycheck to paycheck. We are equally worried about our home value, crime, traffic, schools, quality of life and the future for our kids. 

I myself have been married close to ten years, have three boys, work from home as a patent examiner and live around the corner from my in-laws. There was nothing “special” about me, I simply applied. 

I understand that our decisions on the commission have an effect upon the people of Sanger, which includes myself and my family. 

I chose to be a planning commissioner in order to participate, have a say in how our City grows and to try my best for Sanger and its people.

Another issue that came up is that people seem to believe the negative effects of not doing the rezoning are just scare tactics, and no one wants to hear about the State suing Huntington Beach. 

It is not a scare tactic and let me explain. The state’s lawsuit against Huntington Beach for failure to rezone for affordable housing is a test case. If the state wins, and forces Huntington Beach to comply, the state will then take this verdict to every city in the state that is not complying and force them to comply. They will probably start at bigger cities, and then work their way down to rural cities like Sanger.

With the verdict in their favor, the state will withhold gas tax (transportation money) and stop all development in a city. 

What does that mean for Sanger? 

It means a loss of money we use to build and maintain roads, it means that there will be zero development in the city, it means that the north academy annexation will cease, it could mean that the growth of the city will cease. 

Is that a drastic scenario? 

Yes, but it is also a real possibility.

I said at the March 14 meeting that I recently attended the Planning Commission Academy training. The training is provided by the League of California Cities. In the training they discussed several bills that concern affordable housing. These bills include:

SB35, AB725, AB1279, SB4, SB50, SB330, AB11, SB5, ACA1, SB128, AB68, AB69, SB13, AB36, AB1110, AB1483, AB1484 and AB891.

All of those bills have one thing in common - making it easier to build affordable housing. The bills do this by either removing barriers to building or by withholding funds from cities that prevent development of affordable housing. One of the more extreme measures discussed in the bills is that if a city refuses to make it easier to build affordable housing, for example by not zoning, then the state will make it ministerial. What that means is that the state will force cities to effectively rubber stamp affordable housing developments with limited input from the cities and their residents.

Therefore, as I stated at the end of the meeting, we can either choose to work together and perform the process of rezoning  and thus retain some control over the destiny of our city - or the state will decide for us.

So, how do we work together? 

We start by listening to each other, by voicing concerns, by going to public meetings, by calling, emailing or mailing the City Planning Department. 

Another way is to request a copy of both maps displayed at the meeting (the map with all the sites and the map with only the eligible sites) from the city Planning Department by contacting Senior Planner Mr. Brletic (dbriletic@ci.sanger.ca.us ) (559-876-6300 ext. 1540). Then, mark up the map for the properties you want to be rezoned and the properties you do not want rezoned and send it back to Mr. Brletic. All comments sent to Mr. Brletic become part of the public record and are distributed to the Planning Commission. Input like the above from you, the People of Sanger, would really help me understand your views. Which in turn, will help me and the othere planning commissioners make an informed decision on what properties to rezone.

Lastly, some members of the public brought up the idea that there should be signs posted on properties that are going to be rezoned. 

I brought the up same issue previously to the planning commission and it was shot down because some felt it would involve too much red tape. If you would like to more information on what I proposed you can request the City of San Jose, and the New Castle County sign regulations from Mr. Brletic that I submitted. 

I thought it was a great idea to give more notice to people who live and work in the areas affected by our decisions. I also  thought  it would be a great way to advertise to the people of Sanger about the changes to their communities. 

If you feel the same way please contact your council member and voice your concern.

Thank you and please continue participating. 

Vincent Wall is a member of the planning commission, a patent examiner with the Unites States Patent and Trademark Office and an attorney with the states of Delaware and Pennsylvania. He describes himself as a concerned citizen who would like to see Sanger prosper and grow for future generations, including his own three sons. He can be contacted by email at vincentwallesq@gmail.com.

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