STANISLAUS COUNTY — Visions of more compact neighborhoods failed to captivate a panel of elected officials recommending growth guidelines throughout Stanislaus County.
Presented with three scenarios sticking with current plans, a shift toward compact living or even higher density a steering committee on Tuesday embraced the status quo.
Stanislaus Council of Governments staff will second the recommendation, to be reviewed for final approval by its policy board Sept. 18.
Regular people polled at community meetings and in online voting slightly favored the middle option, which calls for a moderate increase in apartments and smaller house lots.
But StanCOG's steering committee, composed of a few elected officials from throughout the county, like growth plans already in place. They are periodically updated and, in general, they call for less sprawl than in years past.
For example, the recommended scenario would produce 10 housing units per acre, compared with the 7.8-unit historical average. The more ambitious scenarios envisioned 11.4 units and 13.2 units per acre, encouraging a mix of ground-floor shops with homes above along important streets instead of sprawling onto prime farmland at cities' edges.
StanCOG's policy board, composed of office holders from throughout the county, is expected to debate the scenarios Sept. 18 and vote on a preference. That will kick off another round of gathering public comments and an environmental study, followed by the policy board considering adoption of an official Valley Vision Stanislaus plan in the spring.
The effort is linked to home production quotas imposed by state housing officials, called regional housing needs assessments, a process done every few years that is currently in progress. Local officials have been known to scoff, saying state quotas are unrealistic and seem to encourage unwise growth.
A StanCOG committee on Wednesday learned that negotiations have persuaded the state to lower an earlier mandate of 37,000 housing units from Stanislaus County over the next decade, to 23,150. It's considered a compromise, as local officials had hoped for a goal of about 19,000.
State housing officials are expected to confirm the quota for StanCOG later this month. StanCOG leaders will propose a formula for splitting the burden among the county and its cities, asking for public input, and vote in November.
The Stanislaus Council of Governments policy board will consider the Valley Vision Stanislaus plan at 6 p.m. Sept. 18 in its third-floor chamber at 1111 I St., Modesto.
On the Net: www.valleyvisionstanislaus.com
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2390.