County supervisors approved the transfer of $67,000 from the General Fund Tuesday to cover over run costs for the General Plan update. The county has already paid more than $1 million for the plan, but realized in January that additional hours spent on required aspects of the plan had increased the fees by $67,000. Supervisors directed county staff to draft an ordinance that will structure the transfer as reimbursable to the General Fund and expect to collect impact fees from developers in the future to cover the cost.
"We have $1.3 million into this project already," Supervisor Anthony Botelho said. "This $67,000 is a tough pill to swallow. It would be easier to support if it's along those lines."
According to Jim Harnish of Mintier Harnish, the consulting firm hired to complete the General Plan, the county incurred additional costs due to a change in the scope of work regarding environmental impacts and traffic patterns.
"We had to conduct additional greenhouse gas inventory and additional traffic analysis after the county realized the available data was either unavailable or unsuitable for the EIR analysis," Harnish said. Normally consulting firms rely on regional agencies' traffic models when preparing General Plan EIRs, but when Mintier Harnish's traffic consultants looked into the Association of Monterey Bay Area Government (AMBAG) traffic model, they found that the model did not include all of the data necessary for a Countywide traffic analysis. Air quality and traffic are required elements of a general plan and EIR under state law.
A general plan acts a sort of blue print for making rational decisions regarding a county's long-term physical development. The general plan expresses the community's development goals and incorporates public policies relative to the distribution of future public and private land uses. California State law requires that each county adopt a general plan "for the physical development of the county and any land outside its boundaries which bears relation to its planning." Typically, a general plan is designed to address the issues facing the county for the next 15-20 years. The current general plan was written in 1995.
Harnish said he expects to complete the draft general plan in coming weeks, at which point it will be circulated to the general public for a mandatory review period before adoption by the county's Board of Supervisors. To see a presentation on the public workshops held on the plan, click here.