July 17, 2008

County Planners to Continue Working on Plan for Growth in Rural Areas

By Bob Cuddy, The Tribune, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Jul. 17--County planners received the go-ahead this week to continue refining their proposals to plan growth throughout the county, with an emphasis on consolidation and working with others who will be affected, including cities.

The Board of Supervisors authorized the planning department to proceed with its Countywide Rural Plan, which will eventually frame where growth occurs and under what circumstances.

Supervisors also asked for more specific proposals on infrastructure and resources.

The board's instructions followed a lengthy discussion that was wonkish but brought forth suggestions for change that could significantly affect residents.

Among the ideas postulated: levying fees for rural development when it affects urban areas; taking a new look at the way freeway interchanges are viewed by planners; and getting a stronger handle on where water comes from, and how it should be used.

The board also bounced around the idea of providing incentives that would encourage builders to build in urban areas, rather than disincentives for building in outlying areas -- an urban carrot as opposed to a rural stick.

Supervisors stressed the importance of working with cities and such private interests as the agricultural, construction, and environmental communities. Planners have held several meetings with these groups, but some of their representatives said they don't feel adequately informed.

"The train is leaving the station and you're the only ones on board," said Jerry Bunin, legislative affairs director for the Home Builders Association of the Central Coast.


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