County, cities need to find common ground
The recent appearance at a Porterville City Council meeting by Fifth District Supervisor Mike Ennis and Tulare County Chief Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau once again demonstrates the deep divide that exists between city leaders and county leaders.
Ennis and Rousseau went before the council to answer several questions, mainly about the county’s general plan and issues the cities have with that plan, including the proposal to charge development fees on construction within city boundaries.
Unfortunately, nothing was settled but it was good to see the two sides getting together and talking. We would encourage the city and county to hold such discussions more often.
The cities and county have been at odds for several years now. There have been the threat of lawsuits, threats of holding up annexations and a growing mistrust between city leaders and county leaders. It is not just Porterville, but Visalia and Tulare as well.
The main area of contention is the general plan where cities want the plan to center most growth in the cities and where the county is seeking more flexibility in developing areas of the county.
This is not to say the two sides have not been cordial and have not been able to work or agree on some issues, but the division remains and needs to be settled for the good of the county and all residents.
What is apparent is that both sides firmly believe their position is the best for their constituents. Talking with a county leader or a city leader and you will hear the conviction in their voice. That is why it has been so difficult to find common ground.
Meetings like Tuesday are needed not just in Porterville, but at every city council meeting in the eight incorporated cities of the county. The door to communication needs to be swung open wide and only then can the two sides begin to agree on the general plan and other significant issues facing all in Tulare County.