The new Board of Supervisors members had their first minor clash on Jan. 12, signifying both a change in the board majority and a potential to throw out a dated, spotty land policy.
Three supervisors—Bruce Gibson, Jim Patterson, and newcomer Adam Hill—said a 13-year-old countywide development transfer program had turned out to be a failed experiment. But Supervisor Katcho Achadjian landed in the new minority position along with newcomer Frank Mecham. Achadjian was previously part of a regular 3-2 majority vote.
The official vote was 5-0 to simply accept a staff report on the Transfer Development Credit program, but the board was clearly split 3-2 when it came to the program itself.
The development-transfer program is a way of offering incentives to landowners who agree not to develop some of their land. Developers can then purchase the credits and use them for more building density on their projects.
A 15-member committee was assigned to review the program and ultimately found that, as written, it actually contributes toward a loss of open space when implemented on a countywide scale. They recommended changes such as a new calculation for development credits and locating better development and preservation sites, but three supervisors were not convinced the existing countywide program could be saved.
The board was unanimous on the benefits of the development transfer concept, but differed on the implementation.
“We need to craft a new response,” Gibson said. His recommendation was to effectively get rid of the countywide program and shift focus toward individual community programs, which he said tend to be more effective at achieving the original intent of preserving green belts around communities. Patterson and Hill agreed it was probably best to scrap the current countywide program and devote county resources toward new efforts.
Achadjian and Mecham, however, defended the committee’s work and said simply throwing it out would be a brash move. They both advocated working with the existing language.
There was no formal action, but Kami Griffin of County Planning and Building said the committee would consider phasing out the existing program and put the committee’s recommendations toward developing a new policy.