Willows too poor to update general plan
KNOW & GO
WHAT: Willows Planning Commission meeting
WHEN: 7 p.m. today
WHERE: Willows City Hall, 201 N. Lassen St.
Willows is broke and cannot afford to update its most critical - and decades-old - planning document, according to reports released this week.
The Willows Planning Commission will review the city's annual General Plan report tonight, but nothing is expected to change and there are no plans to update the document any time soon because of the city's financial situation, according to the report prepared by city Planner Karen Mantele.
"It takes six or seven figures, financially, to update a general plan," Commission Chairman Larry Domenighini said. "And Willows just doesn't have that laying around anywhere at this time."
The commission is expected to rubber stamp the annual state mandated report tonight and send it to the city council.
The city's general plan was adopted in 1981 and has only received partial updates since, the staff report states.
The city gave the land use element of the general plan a "major revision" in 1987 and made some minor adjustments again in 2000 to the land use map.
The housing element was updated in 2005 and again earlier this year, amid highly vocal protests from one development consultant, Forrest J. Sprague.
Despite Sprague's protests and threats to sue over potential senior housing projects, the state certified the city's housing element on June 8, according to Mantele.
Otherwise, authorities acknowledge, the document remains relatively unchanged.
"We'd like to be able to update in the near future, especially with the new (Basin Street housing development) coming in, but we can't do it," Domenighini said.
Last month the city gave the green light to plans for a new 453-unit housing subdivision in southern Willows.
Domenighini fears the city will be unprepared to grow quickly under the current planning document.
"It's a major concern, something the city needs to look at," Domenighini said, "but it's about money."
It's money the city does not have and is unlikely to find, given that Willows' major problem is generating revenue, authorities said.
The city is operating on a $243,557 deficit budget and reserve funds are evaporating rapidly, according to earlier city reports.
The commission will also discuss another possible amendment to the city's controversial sign ordinance. The commission will discuss allowing signs advertising businesses to be placed in residential neighborhoods, but no action will be taken tonight.
Contact Rob Parsons at 934-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.