Differences over county general plan still exists
While the Tulare County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the memorandums of understanding with seven of the county’s incorporated cities over the county’s general plan, officials were cautious to say that all is well and done.
At a hastily called special board meeting Thursday morning, the county and cities tentatively ended four years of at times contentious negotiations over language in the county’s recently adopted general plan update.
“We’re very excited to be here today,” stated county Chief Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau who explained the MOUs needed to be finalize by Friday’s deadline per general plan guidelines.
“It’s been a long road. Four years of negotiations with our cities. It’s a very positive day,” he added.
However, Porterville City Manager John Lollis said there is still more negotiations to be conducted and added the Porterville City Council has yet to approve the MOU that the county OK’d Thursday.
“I think it’s a basis for further discussion,” said Lollis Thursday afternoon of the board’s action a few hours earlier.
He was pleased, however, the MOU was not a one fits all mentality. He said while there is standard language for all cities, each MOU has a segment addressing concerns of each city.
“The county has offered the feasibility to look at individual agreements to protect individual cities,” said Lollis.
According to a press release from the county, the MOUs are intended to resolve future issues, like the potential for individual incorporated cities to challenge the 2030 General Plan Update, and define the ways in which impact fees would be created and collected, as well as how the revenues would be shared.
Of the incorporated cities in the county, so far, only Dinuba has reached an agreement with the County. Lollis said the MOU will again go before the Porterville council on Oct. 16. The council failed to come to an agreement on the issue Wednesday night.
The MOUs also address the coordination of long-range land use planning, sharing a transient occupancy tax, and increasing the county’s share of sales tax depending on where develop occurs, mutual benefit agreements and programs that assist in off-setting costs for increased public services due to population growth in the county, and legal challenges to the General Plan.
Still to be finally resolved is a proposal to have cities collect impact fees on new construction to pay for county projects.
“This is the first step. We still have a lot of work to do,” said Jake Raper, head of he county’s Resource Management Agency. He added, “this begins to address cities’ concerns over rural development.”
Supervisor Pete Vander Poel agreed it was a good step.
“This shows we are really all in this together. I’m glad to see we’re working together and we’ve come to an agreement.”
Randy Groom, Exeter city manager, called the long process “dynamic,” but asked the board to instruct staff to continue to negotiate with the cities.