There sure is a lot to talk about in our town when it comes to planning for growth in the Pajaro Valley.
The Pajaro Valley faces both challenges and opportunities when planning for our growth and for our own future generations. Providing jobs for the Valley’s diverse population, ensuring equitable access to affordable housing, easing traffic congestion and protecting the Valley’s unique environmental and agricultural resources are among our most critical challenges.
Development issues in the Pajaro Valley have been highly contentious. Plans that supported development of land in the Valley were often viewed as piecemeal and short sighted. Other planning efforts have been unsuccessful in gaining local government, agency and community support to implement them.
Action Pajaro Valley, a non-profit organization, was formed in 1999 to help the community move beyond the traditional conflict and lack of coordination between the Pajaro Valley’s diverse interests by serving as a forum for a broad range of perspectives to be shared, debated and acted on.
Following a year-long vision process, Action Pajaro Valley developed a Growth Management Strategy: a set of policies and principles designed to guide future growth in the Pajaro Valley to enhance the quality of life for all of the Valley’s residents. These policies and an Urban Limit Line around the City of Watsonville (Measure U) were created by a consensus process between a representative and diverse set of community interests and stakeholders. The goal was to focus on what we could agree on, and to act on that agreement.
By bringing together a broad based coalition supporting the Strategy, Action Pajaro Valley did something never done before in local land use politics. Groups endorsing the APV Growth Management Strategy included the County of Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors, the Watsonville City Council, Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau, Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce, League of United Latin American Citizens, Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, Watsonville Board of Realtors, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and Watsonville Wetlands Watch.
Action Pajaro Valley came together to bring more voices to the planning processes in the Valley like the City’s and Counties General Plan processes and the Local Agency Formation Commission process that are legally required to decide on land use plans for future generations. The process for community dialogue is critical in developing a broad-based consensus about land use in our area, and if we are to revisit the urban limit line created through the Measure U initiative, we must continue to engage all interests and stakeholders in the process or risk returning to the stalemate of opposing factions passionately advocating their positions and not listening to each other, all defending their view of the best interests of our community.
As the City of Watsonville, and the Counties of Monterey and Santa Cruz update their long range land use plans or General Plans, Action Pajaro Valley will continue to be a place to discuss and seek compromise on issues such as efficient and sensitive use of land, community and neighborhood livability and the maintenance of the unique character of the area.
The debate can sometimes be painful and people don’t always agree. We realize that. But the community needs and deserves a neutral forum. We are committed to that no matter what it takes. We continue to invite all residents in the Pajaro Valley to engage in a solution oriented dialogue. Our goal at Action Pajaro Valley is to be a trusted advocate for regional planning in the Pajaro Valley. Not just for today, but for all future generations.
Check out our website for opportunities to get involved at www.actionpajarovalley.org.
Lisa Dobbins is the Executive Director of Action Pajaro Valley.
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