Fast Tracking Of General Plan After 7-Year Delay Alarms Upland Residents

(April 16) The emergence of Upland’s updated general plan and the fast track for its approval by the city council has alarmed a number of Upland residents and business owners.
Seven years ago the city began the effort to update the general plan. It made very slow progress for four years, with only a minimal amount of  public input into the process. Now, a tentative document is ready, but it has not been widely distributed. It is accessible at a relatively obscure spot on the city’s website and is available to be examined at City Hall and at the library.
The Upland Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on it on April 22 at 6:30 p.m., at which time the commission is scheduled to make a recommendation for its adoption by the city council The city council is set to hold a study session for the general plan and its accompanying zoning changes on May 18. Sometime shortly thereafter, the council will vote upon its adoption.
What some in the community find objectionable is that the process crawled at a snail’s pace for more than six years, shrouded for the most part, in the backrooms of City Hall and now it is progressing at near light speed toward approval, with the public being shoehorned into just a very limited set of open hearings at which its input can be obtained.
At over 2,000 pages, the updated general plan has yet to be seen by the vast majority of the city’s residents or entrepreneurs. The few who have seen it and contacted the Sentinel say they have not been able to fully assimilate it and much of its implication.
A utility bill mailing to Upland residents heralded the general plan update.
“The comprehensive update program was completed as a result of ongoing community participation,” the notice states. “The community input process helped form the vision and key themes that have laid the foundation for the plans; directed the preparation of general plan goals, policies and actions; and formed the zoning code development standards and design guidelines.”
Upland resident Marilyn Mills, however, questioned the city’s claim of community participation. She said she was able to ascertain that there have been only three actual events at the beginning of the process where the city actively sought to get citizen input and those venues were related to other topics which greatly compromised the effectiveness of the gathering of resident feedback.
“Those events where the update effort was introduced were the Scary-A-Fair, Craft Fair and the Christmas Parade in 2008, where a lot of those in attendance did not even live in the city,” Mills said.  “Since 2008, the Planning Department has had four workshops and one open house where the public was invited. None of these were widely advertised with only a notice on the bulletin board at City Hall and in the legal section of the newspaper. If that is what they say is working with the citizens, that is unacceptable. This Plan and Environmental Impact Report was just now widely presented. There has been no in-depth citizen discussion and no time to give thoughtful researched answers.”
Moreover, Mills said, those the city targeted in distributing the new draft general plan demonstrated the effort to bring those who will be most impacted by the plan’s contents – city residents – are being overlooked. “A lot of agencies are on the document distribution list and developers who have businesses here, but that’s about it,” she said. “There are no other residents listed.”
The rush is keeping the public and officials from giving the document the examination it should get and not allowing the back-and-forth exchanges, debate and alterations needed to produce a quality plan and ensure that citizens’ concerns about the environment they are to live in are being addressed, Mills said.
Her initial reaction in the limited time she has had to study it, Mills said, is that it could use some revision.
“Now that we have read it, we can see it provides new zoning for high density, low income residential all along Foothill Blvd., with a lot of mixed uses in there.” she said.
In her view, she said, the plan deviates from some traditions she and many others have come to accept as part of the Upland community.
“The plan has a political philosophy attached to it,” she said. “It basically changes the character and values of Upland. It has an emphasis on public forms of transportation rather than moving freely about using cars.”
Another Upland resident, Marian Nichols, decried the suddenly accelerated plan update effort as a “stealthy  flim-flam orchestrated by the Upland Planning Commission and City Hall.  The citizens were not aware this was afoot.”
After she read the plan online, Nichols said, she “found it stunning.  It is against everything a lot of us envision for Upland. I was raised in Upland and I care deeply about the town of my birth. I attended each and every previous planning session.”
Neither her input nor that of other residents and business owners was heeded by those who put together the proposed new planning document, Nichols said.
”We sere involved for endless hours, as one after another company through the years presented its goal for us to explore. The companies left in disgust after the city didn’t sign them up.  And we citizens became disillusioned when the fruits of our labors disappeared into thin air.”
The updated general plan,  Nichols said, is inferior to the previous one, clearing the way for over-concentrations of population in the city that will erode the quality of life.
“What is being proposed is to transform Upland into the antithesis of what it has always been admired for,” Nichols said. “Already new residential construction begins at the edge of the sidewalk, and is a minimum of three stories high. The biggest question many of us have is: ‘Will there be enough water for us to share with all the prospective newcomers?’”

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  1. Pingback: SB Sentinel Reports Concerns for Upland General Plan | Don't Urbanize Upland

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