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June 23, 2021

Kudos to Supes For Tackling General Plan

For nearly two years, the Free Lance has been urging the county
supervisors to complete a comprehensive overhaul of its General
Plan because the antiquated document has not kept up with the
sweeping changes San Benito County has undergone over the last few
decades.
For nearly two years, the Free Lance has been urging the county supervisors to complete a comprehensive overhaul of its General Plan because the antiquated document has not kept up with the sweeping changes San Benito County has undergone over the last few decades.

As is far too often the case with government, movement on this issue has been slow. But now supervisors are preparing to make significant changes to the General Plan and are to be commended for doing so.

A General Plan is a blueprint for the county that guides development, growth, transportation, population centers and even the economy. But only two of the General Plan’s eight elements have been updated in the last 10 years, and several haven’t been updated since the early 1980’s. We face new pressures and new challenges and our guiding document must keep up.

Growth is the issue that has dominated the county’s political discourse for years – stirring anger and causing rifts in the community – and it will continue to do so without a clear vision for San Benito’s future. Developer DMB’s proposal to build what could be thousands of homes on the northern end of the county will only create further challenges of the sort that can be dealt with in an up-to-date General Plan.

Piece-meal changes to an old document are no longer an acceptable way to deal with San Benito County’s growth. It’s obviously a touchy issue, but a recipe for further community strife is to stay on the current course which promotes patchwork planning that will lead to endless rounds of finger-pointing and political bickering. That’s why the supervisors’ move to update their blueprint is so important.

And, after adopting an $80.9 million budget balanced with about $2 million in county reserve funds, supervisors should be eager to find new ways to attract businesses that will provide jobs and a tax base that funds government services. They also should be mindful that many people want controlled growth and smart planning that avoids sprawl and preserves the rural character of our area.

A comprehensive update of the General Plan with plenty of community input can accomplish all those goals. In fact, community input on the plan – which will lead to community buy-in down the road – is so important the county should create a balanced General Plan Committee charged with doing the heavy lifting and ensuring all stakeholders have a say in the process.

Supervisors have a chance to make meaningful changes in policy with this update and draw a road map for the county’s future.

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