Two members of the Delta Stewardship Council are from the Delta, so I was curious what those members would say and how they would vote when the long-awaited Delta Plan finally came up for adoption last Thursday.
Former state Sen. Patrick Johnston of Stockton specifically addressed the city’s concern that the plan gives the state too much control over future growth.
Johnston said former city leaders rushed through approvals of development across large swaths of land north all the way to the Lodi sewer plant, and west to the edge of the Primary Zone of the Delta. That happened years ago before Councilwoman Kathy Miller, who had moments earlier criticized the plan, took office.
“She and her successor council and city officials are confronted with a very difficult financial situation,” Johnston said. They’re also confronted with what Stockton’s perception of its own economic future is, which is more sprawl into the Delta.”
He noted one recent development planned for 3 housing units per acre.
“Its (Stockton’s) track record has been to move rapidly to gain open space for urbanized development,” Johnston said. “All of that which is currently in the city limits and sphere of influence is exempt from the kind of restrictions they profess to be worried about.”
And, he said, development in those areas is a “long way off.”
“Those who own land and options and own entitlements are pressing the city to immunize them from any potential future regulation by the council or by anybody else,” Johnston said. “But as a practical matter the city of Stockton has the ability to move ahead with the entitlements that they have approved in the past.”
He concluded: “One might ask whether a pattern of 50 years of urban sprawl to the north, that then was followed by many expansions of urban blight in in order to be put in redevelopment for not only the oldest parts of the city but those that were the new areas only 30 years ago, is really a good future for the economic health of Stockton.”
Johnston voted yes.
So did Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli, who has been outspoken in his criticism of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (twin tunnels).
He acknowledged many people are concerned about the broader Delta Plan, which will eventually include BDCP if the latter is approved by state and federal agencies.
But, Nottoli said, “In my three-plus years on this body it’s been my commitment in good faith to participate and hopefully bring the concerns of the (Delta Protection) Commission and serve as one local voice on a number of issues before this body… I think the work that’s been done has been done in the spirit of not only striking a balance, but addressing some pretty difficult issues.”
BDCP continues to be the “gorilla in the room,” he said. “I don’t think it was the intent of this plan to pave the way” for BDCP. he said.
Nottoli concluded: “When you vote on something, it’s a statement of where you stand. If you don’t stand for something you really don’t stand for anything… I do think for all the parts I might find fault with, there’s a lot of good in here, too. Good in the sense that it keeps the focus on the Delta — maybe too much at times — nonetheless, I think it’ s a body of work that from my perspective deserves the support of the council.”
The vote was 7-0.