On Thursday, April 25, 2002, the Ventura County Planning Commission met to consider their response to the Board of Supervisors following their March 28th Open Hearing on the General Plan Update. The Board had asked them to consider the testimony heard at the March 12th joint Board / Planning Commission Workshop and propose a plan for future General Plan Update efforts. Unlike the prior meetings, there were a minimum number of individuals in the audience and no obvious press coverage.
County staff presented a summary of the prior meetings and a draft letter to the Board for signature by the Planning Commission Chairman. The summary suggested very strongly that the Commission had decided the comprehensive plan requested by most of the speakers at the public hearings was not feasible and that the General Plan Update should go ahead as scheduled. It stated the Commission had determined a County-only review of the other elements of the plan was not recommended.
Three speakers participated in the Public Hearing portion of the meeting. Mark Burley once again encouraged the Commission to take a position on removing Santa Rosa Road from the list of highways to become 4-lane roads. The League of Women Voters representative expressed disappointment with the decision to delay consideration of the other planning issues and asked the commission to do everything possible to keep the public informed as the General Plan Update process goes forward. Jim Fortney expressed his displeasure that the summary and letter prepared by the staff not only failed to discuss the overwhelming sentiment for a more comprehensive plan that had been expressed by the public, but that it also mis-represented the issue of safety concerns versus service level that had been discussed in great detail. He expressed his oppinion that the willingness, on the part of the County, to lead a comprehensive planning process that had been expressed at the prior meetings was totally missing from the materials being considered.
The Commission Chairman stated that their decision to move forward with the original (partial) General Plan Update was heavily influenced by budgetary constraints and their belief that "certain issues" demanded immediate action. The Commission did indicate a desire to reflect some of the concerns raised during the public hearing and elected to have the proposed letter redrafted after the meeting to incorporate these concerns.
The bottom line is that the Commission is recommending to the Board of Supervisors that the update to the Transportation element of the General Plan go forward without the comprehensive consideration requested by the public at the general hearings.