GPU: Ad Hoc Group Unlikely to Keep Pace

from the 1.16.13 issue


By Daniel Mintz

Press Reporter


With the future of an ad hoc stakeholders group in doubt, the Board of Supervisors is going ahead with an every other week General Plan Update hearing schedule.

Supervisors discussed how to proceed with the update at its Jan. 8 meeting and decided to stick with a schedule that has hearings held bi-weekly until May 20, the target completion date. A once every three week schedule was up for consideration but supervisors chose not to pursue it after Community Development Director Kevin Hamblin gave an update on the ad hoc group’s latest meeting.

The group had met the day before, Hamblin said, adding that he heard its members were “very anxious about getting through” the Circulation Element, which it has been working on since late November.

But the group wasn’t able to finish it, as seven of its members were absent, Hamblin continued. “They themselves are unsure how they’re going to continue into the future or if they’re going to continue into the future,” he said.

Supervisors have held off on reviewing the Circulation Element to allow the ad hoc group time to make recommendations on it. The three-week hearing schedule was geared to giving the group enough time to review elements and make recommendations on them.

The group’s emergence last November changed the update’s course, as supervisors supported the idea of having the multi-interest group work out a mutually agreeable version of the update.

But as its progress lurches, the group is increasingly being talked about as a mechanism for social interaction among members of ideologically divided special interest groups rather than outside review. At her first meeting, Supervisor Estelle Fennell said the group’s work has value but the General Plan Update process shouldn’t be built around it.

“I’m concerned about the fact that we’re being hung up on whether or not the ad hoc committee can do its job,” she said.

She added that even if the group’s members end up representing their own groups’ interests, “I think they’ve learned to work together more and that’s my vision for the future – that we do respect each other, we trust each other and have an adult conversation about how to move out general plan forward.”

Supervisor Mark Lovelace said he has no preference about the update schedule, as long as it’s realistic and will be followed. He noted that on several occasions, various update elements have been listed on agendas without being taken up. It has happened repeatedly, he continued, disappointing people who had come to hearings expecting listed elements to be discussed.

“I couldn’t agree more – I’ve been thinking about that for a while,” said Fennell.

Other supervisors also concurred. The next update hearing is set for Jan. 14