A critical issue in the 3rd District supervisor race: What are the candidates’ positions about a community’s right to plan its own future, and to have that plan respected by decision makers?

Los Alamos, Santa Ynez Valley, Eastern Goleta Valley, and Gaviota are all unique communities for which a one-size-fits-all county land use code does not give adequate guidance to decision makers. Locally developed Community Plans contain the unique goals and priorities of each community. Who better than the people who live there to develop their own road map?

I had the privilege of serving as chair of Los Alamos Planning Advisory Committee, which during 30 public meetings crafted the Los Alamos Community Plan. We developed innovative zoning rules for our commercial district to encourage development, and a prioritized list of desired improvements to our infrastructure. The Community Plan enabled us to apply for state grants because we could demonstrate community participation in the process.

Bob Field and Joan Hartmann have records of taking community plans seriously. Field served as chair of the Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan committee. Hartmann consistently respected community plans in her decisions as planning commissioner.

Bruce Porter does not. At a candidate forum in Vandenberg Village he said, “There are those in the planning community that view Community Plans as a religion that is not to be questioned, and sometimes Community Plans are used to make handcuffs to progress, not a vision of the future. And that’s a part of the culture of this County that is so important for us to fix, and I look forward to helping do that.”

Handcuffs to “progress”? Important to “fix”? I think Porter means handcuffs to those who would exploit communities for their own financial gain. No thanks, Bruce Porter.

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