General Plan 2050

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Watsonville Wetlands Watch supports updating the General Plan for the City of Watsonville so existing policies that were adopted in 1994 can be improved to better reflect the current issues regarding development, services and environmental protection within the City.  We believe the policies of a new General Plan (General Plan 2050) should meet the following objectives:

  • Sloughs and Wetlands: Riparian and wetland habitats should be identified as a valuable resource that provide open space corridors, wildlife habitat, public recreation and storage for flood waters. This resource should be protected and enhanced by mandating a 100-foot setback between the outer edge of native vegetation associated with streams, sloughs and wetlands and land alteration for development. Project approvals on land where sloughs and wetlands are located should include enhancement of any degraded portions of these habitats.
  • Tree Canopy: Street trees and trees in parks, large parking lots, school play yards and other outdoor public spaces should be recognized for their importance in providing shade, aesthetics, and carbon sequestration to counteract global warming. The City’s current tree canopy cover of 9% should be increased to 15% over the next 20 years.
  • Climate Change: City policies should promote actions that make a meaningful contribution towards reducing carbon (CO2) emissions and adaption to inevitable extreme weather events by stipulating 100-foot setback from streams, sloughs and wetlands; increasing the overall tree canopy; improving transit connections; installing EV charging stations; improving bikeways and pedestrian access (sidewalks) throughout the City; and other similar measures.
  • Land Use and Community Design: Future development must be guided by the voter-approved Measures U and Q which require all development occur inside the existing Urban Limit Line (ULL). New projects and future population growth can be accommodated within the ULL by adopting several Specific Plans that provide mixed-use projects in four-story or five-story buildings at residential densities that are greater than existing densities. The recently adopted Downtown Specific Plan is a good example of how future growth can be accommodated.  
  • Recreation and Open Space: City policies should promote increasing the public park acreage by partnering with the Pajaro Valley Unified School District so school fields and playgrounds inside the city limits are accessible to all City residents after school hours and when school activities (e.g. sport team practice) are not occurring. New mixed-use development should include recreational land uses as one of the uses by providing tot lots and/or small park areas for project residents. The 2050 General Plan should also reinforce the City’s excellent work to establish a public trail system that aligns with the wetlands in the City.  
  • Housing: Policies should be adopted to strengthen affordable housing by increasing the percentage of moderate-income, low-income and very low-income housing in residential and mixed-use projects and by dispersing such housing throughout projects to avoid congregating lower income housing in the same location.
  • Environmental Justice: Public projects planned and carried out to improve the life of city residents must be implemented on an equitable basis throughout the city limits. A method to quantify and ensure this objective is carried out should be specified in new General Plan policies.
  • Community Safety and Resiliency: Pedestrian safety is a core issue for the City, given the very high rates of pedestrian safety incidents. The General Plan should include policies to improve both pedestrian and bicycling safety. The use of street tree plantings, green infrastructure, and green streets can be important measures to calm traffic and improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities and safety.

Adopted October 26, 2023

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Watsonville Wetlands Watch
PO Box 1239
Freedom, CA 95019-1239
Voice: 831-728-1156
Fax: 831-728-6944
Offices at the Fitz Wetlands Educational Resource Center

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