Monday, November 11, 2013
THE LEGISLATIVE BODY THAT PLANS OUR LIVING SPACE
Keeping everyone’s interest in mind when considering the long term plan of a cohesive and equitable living space for all citizens within a community can be a huge undertaking, but it is a role performed unfailingly by the quasi-judicial appointed body known as the Planning Commission. While most residents of a community know very little about their responsibilities, it can be argued that without the function of this neutral assembly of dedicated volunteers, the elected officials and self-interest entities could continue towards a fragmented and destabilized expansion of urban and rural land.
Who is on the Planning Commission?
Typically for most county and city jurisdictions, the Planning Commission consists of three to seven members appointed by the local governance and serve for a period consistent with the city or county council. Some larger populations require more commissioners and even go so far as to assign them to specific districts to assure their focus of unique and complicated neighborhoods such as a historical or farming area (California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research Publication). The Planning Commission members act as an intermediary body between the public and the city or county council that make decisions based on zoning and planning issues. While the commissioners are not required to be proficient in building codes and specific zoning laws, it is ideal that they have a basic understanding of how the various local and statewide governmental agencies conduct their parliamentary standards.
The Purpose of the Planning Commission
At the turn of the century, as California was in a significant growth spurt and no real direction or semblance of order, it was realized by a group of concerned citizens that a statewide organized plan was needed to coordinate residential and commercial development. The plan began as a formation of the first Planning Commission. With the natural propensity of elected officials is to be influenced by developers and self-interest groups, it came as a welcomed departure from the status quo to have commissioners who were seen as a neutral party that primarily were made up of volunteers and represented the public’s best interest (California Counties Planning Commissioners Association).
Responsibilities of Planning Commissioners and their guidelines
The Comprehensive Plan most commonly referred to as the general plan is a long-term blueprint that provides for future development and growth (Diaz III & Hansz). The commissioners are responsible for interpreting and applying land use regulations to specific applications. The Commission also serves a legislative role to prepare and amend the general and specific plans or make recommendations to the city or county councils for final action (City of Clovis Planning Department).
The likely negative impact without a Planning Commission
Understanding the basic concept of urban economics and how development, growth and the relationship between accessibility and land value should work together is continuously tested by individuals and enterprises that focus on their own agenda. The Planning Commission provides a unified and balanced voice for residential and commercial interests alike. This approach ultimately benefits all concerned as it helps to create continuity in future development (Diaz III & Hansz).
California Counties Planning Commissioners Association
California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. 2003 General Plan Guideline
City of Clovis Planning Department(www.ci.clovis.ca.us) Planning and Development/Planning Commission)
Diaz III, Julian and J. Andrew Hansz. Real Estate Analysis: Environments and Activities. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 2010.