Santa Maria looking for public input as it plans for future growth
SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The City of Santa Maria is looking for public involvement in the ongoing process to update its General Plan, which will shape how the city grows in the coming years.
City leaders are expecting Santa Maria to grow by as much as 40,000 new residents by the 2045.
"The goal is to plan for the year 2045 with that balance mixed of uses, housing, shopping, jobs, open space, schools, and everything else that supports a community," said Chuen Wu, Santa Maria Community Development Director.
As part of the multi-year planning effort, Santa Maria will hold two community workshops next week that will focus on Land Use Alternatives, which are different possible options for growth.
The City of Santa Maria has established that public feedback on the alternatives will be used to establish land use policy in the General Plan, so it's important that as many community members as possible take part in the important process.
"The General Plan really shows where the growth of the city will be," said Santa Maria City Manager Jason Stillwell. "It's important for residents to come forward and talk about how they want to see the city grow, what types of new services they want, what type of housing they want, whether they want us to grow more density on the urban center or out into the fields surrounding the city."
Santa Maria describes the general plan as a city’s primary guide for land use and development decisions and is a key tool for shaping and improving the quality of life for residents and businesses. It is a city’s blueprint, or constitution, to guide change; thus according to state law, the City must update its General Plan periodically to respond to the changing needs and conditions of the city and region and to reflect new state laws. California law requires that the General Plan include a minimum of nine State-mandated Elements: Land Use, Open Space, Conservation, Housing, Environmental Justice, Circulation, Noise, Air Quality and Safety.
The General Plan update covers the land within the City of Santa Maria and its unincorporated Sphere of Influence, which includes the unincorporated town of Orcutt.
"Most of the focus has been within the existing city boundaries and then some additional areas on the east side of the 101 for future growth," said Wu. "Those are the areas we've discussed for the most part. There are discussions regarding Orcutt. I think there are some discussions and studies that are being considered, but that's being done in coordination with either the county or the Local Agency Formation Commission.
The workshops will offer community members an opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts, opinions, concerns and other ideas regarding the future growth of Santa Maria.
"What we are going to talk about are trade offs," said Wu. "There are tradeoffs to how we grow. If you grow out, there are certain impacts on transportation. There are certain impacts on the environment, so we're going to talk about how we grow and what that means in terms of impacts and the way we live."
Community members have a chance to attend the workshops either in-person or online.
The workshops are scheduled for April 5-6, 2023.
· Zoom Workshop: Wednesday April 5, 2023, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Register for the virtual workshop here: https://bit.ly/smgpu-alts
· In-Person Workshop: Thursday April 6, 2023, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
City of Santa Maria Public Library, Shepard Hall, 421 South McClelland Street
The presentations will be held in English, with Spanish and Mixteco interpretation available.
For community members that are unable to attend the workshops, the presentations, as well as a recording of the Zoom meeting will be available at www.imaginesantamaria.com.
After community members have either attended the workshops or viewed the materials online, they are invited to complete a brief online survey to provide feedback.
"We want to include people and make sure people are heard in the survey," said Stillwell. "The one thing we are hearing is that Santa Maria is going to have a lot of growth in the future and we know that's going to be something that we should plan ahead for and we really want to have people involved to help us do so."
The online survey will be available for community members to complete on www.imaginesantamaria.com from April 5, 2023 until May 2, 2023.
For more information on Santa Maria's General Plan update process or additional information on the upcoming community workshops, visit www.imagesantamaria.com.