El Centro: Meeting growing city's needs is No. 1 priority

May 24, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ

Staff Writer

The El Centro City Council and Planning Commission conducted a joint workshop to discuss how the city's general plan might be updated and what their vision priorities are for the city.

The two bodies, individually and independently, decided the city's No. 1 priority is that as growth occurs, public facilities and services must be in place to meet the needs of the community. The second-highest priority is that a diversified economy provides long-term economic stability and a range of employment opportunities. Third is that businesses that are beneficial to the city locate and thrive in the community.

The prioritizing of certain principles — 15 in total — were ranked by the bodies' members once, discussed and ranked a second time. Between the first ranking and the second, four principles changed ranking in minor ways.


The city has retained San Diego-based Cotton/Bridges/Associates, an urban planning and environmental consulting firm, to help the city with its new plan.

John Bridges, Cotton/Bridges managing principal, said updating the general plan affords the city with the opportunity to renew its vision for the future. He said previous goals and plans must be reviewed to ensure they are still relevant to today's city. He said the process will take from 12 to 14 months to complete.

By November a draft general plan and draft environmental impact report should be released.

Two principles at the bottom of the priority list — though still important, city officials said — are that the community's rural character is preserved and enhanced by new development and that the vitality of the region's agricultural base and prime agricultural lands are protected.

Planning Commissioner Chuck Storey, who works in real estate, said he was surprised that the issue of housing finished in the middle of the priority list because he frequently receives calls from people seeking to rent property.

South El Centro resident Mary Harmon said the agencies should strive to include the public more in government decisions, a principle that finished 12th.

Mayor Larry Grogan and Councilwoman Cheryl Walker agreed it would be nice if government meetings were well-attended but the reality is people just do not attend.

Bridges said it is typical for people to attend government meetings only if there is something with which they disagree strongly on the agenda.

Harmon also asked how much input will be accepted from the public and if the general plan is binding.

Bridges said the public may give input throughout the process but earlier is better. He also said the general plan is not binding in and of itself.

"By itself it does not have the necessary teeth to do what you want it to do," he said, adding the City Council can adopt ordinances to ensure the plan is adopted.

The general plan was last updated in 1989.

The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. July 11 at the Community Center, 375 S. 1st St. For more information call 336-8971.

>> Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles