After six years, Richmond’s long-awaited General Plan update was passed by the City Council early Wednesday after a lengthy City Council meeting.
The vote was 5-2, with Councilmen Corky Booze and Nat Bates dissenting.
The plan was passed as recommended by city staff, with two modifications and a series of recommendations proposed by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.
McLaughlin added two key changes to the massive plan, which has been likened by staff to a “land use Constitution” that will guide development through the year 2030. McLaughlin added language designating a stretch of land near the city’s south shoreline as open space rather than the recommended light industrial designation. The mayor also won support for language prioritizing preservation of a historic building in the Point Molate area, a former Naval depot.
The General Plan projects that the city will grow from 102,000 residents to more than 130,000 by 2030. It calls for organizing economic and residential growth into high-density zones around the Macdonald Avenue downtown area, Marina Bay, and Hilltop Mall.
Bates and Booze, citing concerns for economic development and job growth, raised objections to what they regarded as undue constraints on industry in the plan. ”This is not a bedroom community,” Booze said. “This is a blue-collar community.”
As the meeting stretched passed 12:30 a.m., McLaughlin also inserted several suggestions for further consideration into city planners’ plans for later consideration. Those included referrals to seek greater energy efficiencies in the city and further review of development density proposals in the area around the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, which is scheduled to open in Richmond in 2016.
The General Plan can be modified, although there are restrictions on the frequency of modifications, which must receive council approval.
“This is our city, and this is our vision,” McLaughlin said. “I understand that staff has a vision too, but this is our vision.”