Speak up to save ag land at Santa Maria City Council meeting Tuesday, Nov 7, 2023

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We urge you to speak up to save 1,000 acres of ag land around the City of Santa Maria when the City Council meets on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 5:30 p.m.

If you can't make it, we hope you'll send a letter.

Information on talking points, how to attend the council meeting in person or online, and how to mail a letter to the City is available here.

Esperemos que Vds. úneten a nosotros para salvar tierra agrícolas alrededor de la Ciudad de Santa Maria.

Informacion en español en puntos de discusión, como asistir o ver la reunión, y como mandar cartas a la ciudad esta aqui. 

The issue is explained in the op ed below, and much more information is on our website at https://sbcan.nationbuilder.com/santa_maria_general_plan

Opinion piece by Ken Hough, Santa Barbara County Action Network and Alhan Diaz-Correa, Community Environmental Council:

Every 20 years or so, cities update their General Plans to set a vision for their futures.

Santa Maria has been working for the last three years on its next General Plan update. On Nov. 7, the City Council will consider a recommendation from its staff, consultants and Planning Commission regarding a land-use scenario to guide the development of the final plan (Item 13.a).

Rather than introducing new communities, new roadways and infrastructure, the City Council should prioritize strengthening and investing in the City of Santa Maria from within and preserving agriculture that our community depends on.

Three scenarios for the general plan were initially considered. Alternative A focused on annexing new agricultural land to the west and east of the existing city limits (annexation only). Alternative B avoided annexation and aimed to meet the needs for more housing and jobs within the existing city (infill only). Alternative C proposed a hybrid approach with annexations to the east (800 acres of mostly prime ag land) and more intense growth within the city (annexation and infill).

At its Sept. 6 meeting, the Planning Commission’s recommendation was to adopt a modification of the hybrid approach that would add another 200 acres of prime ag land to the annexation proposal. The city should not base its plan on the idea that it will annex and build on 1,000 acres of valuable farmland. These lands are some of the most productive anywhere and are essential to Santa Maria’s economy.   

According to the City's own survey, Alternative B is more in line with what residents of Santa Maria want out of future growth in the city. Alternative B performs better when it comes to both retail and transit access, walkability, and community engagement within the city. Alternatives A and C would cause urban-rural impacts such as potential for nuisance odors and pesticide drift, as well as more air pollution from increased traffic along US 101.

Alternative B would reduce overall vehicle use while Alternatives A and C would cause increases of CO2 per capita of 9% and 7% respectively due to increased miles of travel. Infill (Alternative B) stands out as the sole alternative that contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By prioritizing infill development, the City can mitigate climate change and safeguard the environment for future generations.

The City of Santa Maria has a fiscal responsibility to meet the needs of its community. Alternative B has the potential to generate higher revenue compared to the hybrid version, allowing additional funds to be reinvested into the community. Adopting Alternative B (infill) would allow the City to meet its housing demand with a greater excess than Alternatives A or C. This aligns with the city’s urgent need for more housing.

According to the fiscal analysis, Alternative B “is estimated to have a positive fiscal impact on the City’s General Fund at full buildout in 2050” and again “is estimated to have a positive fiscal impact on the City’s General Fund during each 5-year period from 2020 to 2050.”

The City of Lompoc fought for more than 20 years to annex some 200 acres of prime ag land and was repeatedly denied. The City of Santa Maria would be well advised to not put so many eggs in the annexation basket.

If you would like to protect farmland and agricultural jobs and have a healthier and more walkable environment in the future, please email [email protected] and come to the City Council meeting on Nov. 7 to urge council members to avoid annexation and invest in our existing city. Find more information at www.cityofsantamaria.org.