Labor, Industry, Business and Agriculture Organizations Join in Requesting an Extension to the Ventura County General Plan Public Review Period ahead of August 6 Board Meeting
The Ventura County Coalition of Labor, Agriculture, and Business has submitted a letter formally requesting that the Ventura County Board of Supervisors extends the public review period for the Ventura County 2040 General Plan document that the board will be voting on August 6. The letter is signed by a broad coalition of community groups representing labor, industry, agriculture, and business.
In the letter, seventeen organizations state that “planning staff have done an admirable job in their attempts to engage the public, holding many public meetings to both inform and solicit feedback from everyday citizens. Now, however, it appears the critical public engagement process is about to be derailed by rushing the process before the Board of Supervisors”.
A draft of the County Plan was released on May 9th, 2019. In June, the County Planning Commission held work sessions that produced over 110 significant recommendations for the plan. Those recommendations were not released to the public until July 25 – less than 10 days before the Plan is finalized. The Board of Supervisors are currently scheduled to consider the draft plan and planning commission recommendations on August 6th.
July 29, 2019
Chair Bennett and Ventura County Supervisors:
A County’s General Plan is one of the most important documents that is considered by the Board. This long-range planning document guides regulations and policies related to land use, water resources, economic growth and stability, resource protection and development in Ventura County through the year 2040 – impacting generations of residents beyond those that draft this language today.
Planning staff have done an admirable job in their attempts to engage the public. Since the draft preliminary General Plan elements were released to the public on May 9, 2019, staff have engaged in public open houses, held Focus Group meetings with subject matter experts, and worked to provide the Planning Commission with constantly updating reports of errata and newly received public comment for the multiple Planning Commission Work Sessions held in June 2019.
Now, however, it appears the critical public engagement process is about to be derailed. County staff have indicated that there are over 110 significant recommendations from the Planning Commission work sessions. Despite staff’s tireless efforts to summarize these critical documents for public review, they have not yet been released to the Public. Even if they were to be released today, the Public would have less than 10 calendar days to review, educate themselves and provide comment on these 110 Planning Commission recommendations before the Board Hearing on August 6.
What does this mean in real numbers? If the Board were to restrict their deliberation to
only those recommendations brought forth by the Planning Commission (and did not take any time for public comment and ignored all other recommendations and comments), the Board would have merely 2 minutes to discuss, deliberate and vote on each of the 110 Planning Commission recommendations.
In addition, we have significant concerns over the amount of time the Board has scheduled for the final vote on the General Plan language. The draft agenda for August 6, 2019, indicates the Board believes that 4 business hours is sufficient to receive public comment, discuss and deliberate the 110 recommendations from Planning Commission, thousands of recommendations from the Focus Groups, the Public, and subject matter experts – and then vote on the long-term future of the County.
After all the efforts of the Planning Staff and Planning Commission to fully engage the public in the process, this self-imposed “race to the finish line” only serves to give the appearance that the Board of Supervisors is simply going through the motions in order to “check the box” for public engagement at the Board hearing on August 6th.
Ultimately, Ventura County’s unrealistic deadline to finish this milestone is not aligned
with the public review processes and timelines utilized by other Counties.
Also, contrast this against the discussion and deliberation time given this past June to the County’s own budgetary hearings, which plan for a single year. In one half-day, the County will be finalizing a document that will be setting the stage for 20 years of policy.
As the deadline to complete the General Plan draft by August 6th is arbitrary, it can and should be amended to allow for the most important step in this process – public review and engagement as the Board deliberates and votes on the final draft (including all Planning Commission recommendations).
We, the undersigned, as representatives of labor, industry, business, and agriculture, request a later hearing date be considered with a longer allotted time so the Board of Supervisors, staff, and the public can fully discuss, deliberate and vote on the next Ventura County General Plan.
California Energy Workers
California Independent Petroleum Association
California Women for Agriculture
Camarillo Chamber of Commerce
Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business
Coastal Energy Alliance
Farm Bureau of Ventura County
LiUNA Local 585
Oxnard Chamber of Commerce
UA Local 484 of Plumbers, Pipefitters, Welders and Apprentices
Ventura Chamber of Commerce
Ventura Citizens for Energy Independence
Ventura County Agricultural Association
Ventura County Cattlemen’s Association
Ventura County Contractors Association
Ventura County Economic Development Association
Ventura County Taxpayers Association
Western States Petroleum Association
Say no to limiting oil production in Ventura County and yes to energy independence and jobs in Ventura County.