City of Scotts Valley
City of Scotts Valley

Back in the 1960s when the Scotts Valley’s inaugural General Plan was unveiled, Councilmember Donna Lind was taking the minutes.

On Nov. 29, Lind joined the rest of Scotts Valley City Council in approving the first big update of the guiding municipal document since the early ’90s—brought about by an update process that faced its fair share of bumps-in-the-road.

“This thing survived a worldwide pandemic—but more importantly, three city managers,” said Steve Park, a member of the General Plan Advisory Committee. “It was a lot of work, and it was a pretty heavy lift.”

Scotts Valley has been working on both the General Plan and its Housing Element at the same time—something other municipalities often undertake at separate times.

Consultant Bill Wiseman, of Kimley-Horn, outlined a General Plan that takes big steps into the 21st century in some ways, yet doesn’t alter the overall trajectory of municipal development in others.

Park said the GPAC focused on zeroing-in on what makes Scotts Valley special, and said Kimley-Horn’s team members were “excellent partners” to achieving this end.

“There is a reason that folks choose to live in Scotts Valley,” he said. “There is a way of life. There is just a community heart that is here. And I can tell you that every Element that went into this, we carefully considered all of that, and carefully followed all of those things, to preserve that. When you think about it, if you’re going to do this for the next 20 years—or the next 29 years, as the case may be—that’s a pretty big deal.”

Ruth Stiles, a local resident of Scotts Valley, shared her concern that some of the maps might be used improperly—such as by insurance companies to deny residents fire coverage.

“I noticed that there was a wonderful paragraph in the history about the Paleo Indians and a very detailed discussion of the European history of Scotts Valley, and the author of that—that I think was from the Historical Society—didn’t include anything about the people that were here at the time of contact,” she said. “And if it’s not too late in the process, I think it would be very helpful to include something about them.”

Councilmember Derek Timm, who has been working on the General Plan since back when he was a Planning Commissioner, acknowledged Stiles’ perspective that there could be more work ahead to tell a more complete story of Indigenous history in the region.

“I don’t know if we’re too late in the process to make any amendments on that,” he said.

Timm added there was plenty of community participation in developing the Draft General Plan.

“There was so much engagement,” he said. “Throughout each step in the process—going through each of the Elements—I really felt that we had a great roundtable each time, had community input at each of the sessions, and then we were able to sit down and go through each point, piece by piece.”

Community Development Director Taylor Bateman left the door open to edits.

“As far as the history of Scotts Valley, I think that’s a great point,” he said. “And I think that’s something that we should do some work on and incorporate into future revisions. I anticipate some update work in the next year or two.”

Wiseman added that the General Plan’s maps aren’t meant as precise indications of where fires or floods will likely occur.

Lind said a group from UC Santa Cruz is currently updating a display with artifacts from Indigenous people for the City Hall lobby.

“It’s pretty special,” she said. “I actually remember when they were found.”

Councilmember Allan Timms said it was great to learn about plans for schools, electric charging stations and an “active transportation” plan in the draft.

He got through it twice, “—which seems incredible for a 392-page document,” he said.

Timms said he, too, supports adding more details about native peoples in the history section with a future revision of the key high-level document.

“It’s a tremendous resource,” he said. “I learned a lot of things that I didn’t expect to learn. It very much had thoughtfulness and captured that state of what Scotts Valley is, and really laid out in a clear way how we should think about preserving that.”

Timms moved to certify the Environmental Impact Report, with Councilmember Timm seconding. The vote in favor was unanimous.

Timms then moved to approve the updated General Plan, with Vice Mayor Randy Johnson seconding. This was also passed unanimously.

“Now we have a new General Plan,” Mayor Jack Dilles said.

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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