Tonight, the Stockton City Council is hosting a “study session” on the General Plan. Specifically, they’ll hear from staff about three “Land Use Alternatives” and provide feedback about which direction they would like staff to proceed on. I wrote last week that only one of these alternatives is worth considering as it is the most infill-oriented and sprawl reducing option. You can read my thoughts on that here.
But what do Stocktonians want? Stocktonians should be the ones driving the General Plan process, but has anyone really dug into what the public prefers?
Luckily, Campaign for Common Ground, a nonprofit organization that advocates for sensible land use planning in Stockton and the surrounding area, has conducted a survey to gauge this very topic, and the results are heavily in favor of infill, walkability, and limiting our urban boundaries. Full disclosure, I am a member of CCG and helped put together and distribute this survey.
The survey was conducted online and received about 400 responses. It was distributed by members of CCG, as well as on Mike Fitzgerald’s blog and at least one council member. Below are the highlights:
With regards to where our city should grow, the results were clear:
- A total of 66% of respondents agreed with the statement that “Stockton should not grow north of Eight Mile Road,” compared with 20% that disagreed.
- A total of 59% of respondents agreed with the statement that “New growth outside of Stockton City Limits should be restricted,” compared with 19% that disagreed.
That’s fairly damning to traditional growth. And other questions reiterated the point that infill is really the type of growth that is preferable:
- A total of 83% of respondents said that “Building new or renovated homes and businesses in existing neighborhoods such as downtown, south side, etc” is important.
- A total of 85% of respondents said that “Building housing and businesses in ways that minimize the need for an automobile and encourage walking, biking and use of public transit” is important.
- A total of 65% of respondents said that “Building new housing and business outside of city limits” was not important.
These results reinforce the idea that Stocktonians want a major shift in how our city grows. It’s also important to note that 80% of respondents reported that they have never participated in a General Plan Update before, so it’s not the same people that are going to city workshops that are completing this survey. Full results are posted below.
As with any survey of this type, it’s not perfect. The sample size relative to the total population is not great, and there is of course the potential for selection bias in a survey distributed by a special interest group. However, I do believe that this survey provides valuable insight, and taken as another data point in the broader community input collected by the city staff and General Plan consultant, it’s becoming clear that Stocktonians want a sensible growth plan. As presented to the Planning Commission last week, the staff/consultant found that the public would prefer that the city limits remain the same and that infill take precedence in this General Plan.
In the end, our elected officials will decide the direction to take our city. It’s my hope that the preponderance of community input (and just plain good judgement) will steer them in the right direction.
If you’re so inclined to add another data point to the set, you can come to the City Council tonight, Tuesday April 4th at 5:30 and provide your input.
CAMPAIGN FOR COMMON GROUND SURVEY RESULTS (n=399)
What kind of city do we want?
Please rate the following issues on their importance to you, from 1 to 5, with 1 being “not at all important” and 5 being “very important.”
Where should we grow?
Please rate the following statements on whether or not you agree, with 1 meaning “strongly disagree, 2 meaning “disagree somewhat,” 3 meaning “no opinion,” 4 meaning “somewhat agree,” and 5 meaning “strongly agree”