Zoning and Development Case Study: The Natomas Joint Vision Project Area
The Natomas Joint Vision Project Area is a land area of approximately 20,000 acres within the Natomas Basin and located in the unincorporated northwestern area of Sacramento County. Consisting of relatively flat terrain, the Basin includes approximately 55,000 acres, with approximately 17,000 acres in Sutter County. The plan to develop the Natomas area involves eight stakeholders: County North, County South, Downtown City, FEMA, Advocacy groups such as the Habitat Conservation Plan Conservancy, Landowners, Airport planners and Developers. The competing interests of these stakeholders require the use of relevant land-use planning methods and provisions for economic equity among all stakeholders, ideally using a Win-Win approach to conflict resolution.
A. What is the decision problem involved in this case and what are the relevant factors necessary to understand the situation?
There are several competing interests and concerns:
I. "County South" wants to urbanize part of the Natomas property, is frustrated with the lack of progress and has considered breaking with the "Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU) (City of Sacramento, CA Planning Department, 2009, p. 4) that was approved on December 10, 2002 (Granicus, 2008, p. 5) and is currently in effect with the City of Sacramento.
II. "County North" also wants to develop part of the Natomas property (Sacramento Housing and Redevopment Agency, 2007, p. 21), but is concerned that County South's development will undermine its habitat conservation plan (HCP) (City of Sacramento, CA Planning Department, 2009, p. 30).
III. FEMA Certification: There is also concern about the loss of FEMA certification, which bans all new development until the levee is improved (estimated to take 2 -- 5 years), though the new development could help finance levee improvement (City of Sacramento, CA Planning Department, 2009, p. 25).
IV. Habitat Conservation Plan: Required by the Endangered Species Act, most of the HCP were validated by recent litigation; however, noted development beyond 17,500 acres would be difficult and contemplated growth would threaten the existing HCP (Aspen Environmental Group, 2010, p. 147).
V. Open Space Study: Initiated by "Downtown City" and County South to determine which areas are most suited for development and which areas are the most valuable for open space, the final plan will be used as a background for identifying areas for growth and ways to finance open-space preservation. Unfortunately, the Study failed to definitively conclude where growth should occur and where the land should be left undeveloped. The Study lacks a clear pattern, partly due to pressures and opposition from both developmental and environmental interests (Newell, 2008, p. 84). As a result of these pressures, the study was developed so inadequately that developers say the plan doesn't address existing services or the ability to provide them in the future and environmental interests seriously question the biological data used in the study (Newell, 2008, p. 84). Wants to develop part of the county
VI. County South Airport Expansion: a master plan for expansion was recently adopted and will be a factor in negotiating a new HCP. Though expansion is not anticipated in the current Basin GCP, there is a need to control bird strikes due to the airport's location within the Pacific Flyway (Newell, 2008, p. 84).
B. What are the Primary Theories of Land-Use Planning That are Relevant to This Case? How Are These Concepts Related to the Issues Involved?
There are three relevant primary theories:
I. Smart Growth: the promotion of sustainable growth through in-fill rather than urban sprawl. It is relevant to this case in that it addresses the long-range, regional competing considerations, equitably distributing the costs and benefits of development while preserving the natural resources in the Natomas preserve.
II. Smart Zoning: Appropriate zoning for residential, commercial, industrial, open-space and habitat conservation is relevant to the Natomas "problem" in that it equitably apportions land use in ways amenable to each stakeholder.
III. Strategic Planning: Use of small-scale goals as part of the larger plan, strategic planning is relevant to Natomas because it will assist the stakeholders in meeting FEMA requirements and preserving resources while defining the stakeholders' long-term plans for development.
C. Should Decision Makers Attempt to Provide Economic Equity Among the Stakeholders? How Can This Be Accomplished?
I. Advisability of Economic Equity: Yes, economic equity should be sought, as it is important to maintain existing working relationship between the stakeholders, affecting regional policy issues, future development, infrastructure and better land use planning, and deters competition for revenue between the parties (City of Sacramento, CA Planning Department, 2009, p. 10). Furthermore, County South and County North include in their MOU methods to share costs and revenue: County south pays 80% while County North pays 20% for related studies; the revenue is shared equally, with County North will repay County South through cash flow until both counties' out-of-pocket costs are equal (City of Sacramento, CA Planning Department, 2009, p. 4).
II. Methods for Accomplishing Economic Equity: There are four identified methods of raising revenue that can be equitably disbursed among the stakeholders: sales taxes, local taxes, utility taxes and direct assessments.
D. Describe Several Methods of Conflict Resolution that could be Used as a Framework for Settling Disputes. Which Do You Recommend and Why?
There are three possible methods of conflict resolution that could be used in the instant case:
I. Win-Lose Approach: This method involves one side winning while the other side loses. It tries to force capitulation of the other party and can use acceptable means such as majority vote, judicial ruling or leader authority or more odious means such as threats, innuendo and secret strategies according to the principle that the end justifies the means. The valued outcome in Win-Lose is winner-takes all (Stark & Flaherty, 2003).
II. Lose-Lose Approach: Based on the idea that the situation is a problem to be settled rather than a conflict to be won by either side and with neither side being aware of a better outcome for each by fully confronting the problem, Lose-Lose is characterized by reaching the simplest of compromise in which each party gets only a portion of what it desires (Stark & Flaherty, 2003).
III. Win-Win Approach: Win-Win is an attempt by all parties to engage in collaborative problem solving. In this method, conflict is seen as a problem to be solved rather than a war to be won. In addition, realizing that goals can only be met with the cooperation of each party, Win-Win focuses on the needs and constraints of all parties and emphasizes the quality of the long-term relationships between/among the parties rather than short-term accommodation. Obviously, Win-Win requires a high degree of skill, patience and problem-solving effort (Stark & Flaherty, 2003).
IV. Recommendation: Win-Win Approach. Due to the ongoing relationships of all the parties involved and the complexities of the Natomas land-use situation, the Win-Win model is the most desirable Method for resolving this conflict.
E. How Would You Go About Implementing This Model Among Stakeholders? Be as Specific as You Can as to the Steps You Would Take and Give a Rationale for Them.
Due to the complexity of the situation and the interdependence of the stakeholders, I would attempt to persuade the participation and collaboration of the stakeholders involved.
I. Identify potential stakeholders: I have identified eight stakeholders in the Natomas situation (Callihan, Kleiman, & Tirnauer, 2009, p. 18):
a. County North;
b. County South;
c. Downtown City;
e. Advocacy groups such as the HCP Conservancy;
g. Airport Planners;
II. National Charrette Institute Format: The Charrette format allows the user to quantify the future vision of the Basin and how each stakeholder envisions its goals before attempting any other task (National Charrette Institute, 2011). According to the National Charrette Institute, the potential benefits of this approach are:
a. It saves time and money through:
i. Reduced rework via short design feedback loops;
ii. Time-compressed work sessions; iii. Creation of broad support from community members, professionals and staff;
b. Increases the probability for Implementation through:
i. An integrated team design process;
ii. Early focus on engineering and finance; iii. Brings stakeholders/decision-makers together;
c. Promotes trust between citizens and government through:
i. Meaningful public involvement and education in which input may affect the outcome;
ii. Building of long-term good will; iii. Broad stakeholder involvement in which no one group dominates;
d. Results in the best sustainable design growth by:
i. Integrating all viewpoints throughout design;
ii. Uninterrupted, focused team-design process; iii. Design based on shared guiding principles.
III. A Memorandum of Agreement should be drafted between County South, County North and Downtown City, including the following aspects:
a. Levee improvement and financing;
b. Location of open-space and methods of financing through assessments, farming income, etc.;
c. Areas to be designated for development and future smart growth;
d. Farmland preservation;
e. Airport protection and improvement plans;
f. Designation of Downtown City as an agent for new growth and County South as an agent for open-spaces and agricultural land;
g. Mutually-acceptable revenue-sharing principles.