Lompoc Council considers conversion of farmland in General Plan Update
Council wades through General Plan Update
By Bo Poertner/Managing Editor email@example.com | Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 11:18 pm
After hearing from a parade of speakers discuss the city’s General Plan Update, the City Council late Tuesday still was discussing the long-range planning document with no final decision expected.
Mayor Mike Siminski tried to divide the 20-year General Plan into sections for better understanding by the public, and easier discussion, beginning with the Final Environment Impact Report, followed by consideration of proposed annexation areas — Bailey Avenue, River Park area and Miguelito Canyon.
Many speakers, however, focused their comments on the controversial Bailey Avenue Corridor plan and the proposed conversion of 270 acres of prime agricultural land on the city’s western border to mostly residential development.
Ed Wineman, whose family has farmed that area for many years, gave a brief history of Lompoc and the importance of the valley as a “bread basket” for the nation during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. “We have a bread basket here that should be preserved,” Wineman said. He later asked the council to leave his property in the Bailey Avenue corridor zoned for agricultural uses.
Richard Quandt of the Growers & Shippers Association in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties described the Bailey Avenue farmland as highly productive and critical to the local economy.
Property owners Jack Bodger, president of Bodger Seed, and James Huseman encouraged the council to approve the Bailey Avenue Corridor annexation, which would allow them to develop their land. Bodger said the valuable agriculture land east of Bailey Avenue is reduced in value because of its location adjacent to residential housing. He said his farming operation, for example, used only low-chemical crops in the area near Miguelito Elementary School.
Huseman said farmers on the east side of Bailey Avenue had to pay for sewer lines in the corridor in 1960 because the city planned to develop to that point. His family paid $20,000 for the improvements, Huseman said. Bodger said his family paid $40,000. Huseman added property owners were told they would eventually be able to recoup the costs of the infrastructure. “Fifty years later, that hasn’t happened,” Huseman said.
Several speakers encouraged the council to delay its decision to give the public more time to address the issues, including, housing, traffic circulation and land uses. Carol Nash of Lompoc told the council that all of the elements of the General Plan are interrelated and that the city should focus on rejuvenating its downtown to bring jobs back and help people save their homes.
The proposed annexation of the Bailey Avenue corridor was rejected by the Planning Commission in July.
The General Plan is the city’s main planning document that guides the council’s decisions regarding development for 20 years.
After working its way through the development of the General Plan Update, the council will vote on three recommendations by the Planning Commission:
- Certify the final environment impact report for the General Plan Update.
- Adopt the General Plan elements for land use, circulation and the land-use map and housing element.
- Approve the necessary zoning change to amend the city zoning map for the General Plan.