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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

General Plan Steering Committee Profile: Rev. Kristin Stoneking

With the composition of a 15 member steering committee who will work on the General Plan Housing Element now having been named, we will over the course of the next few weeks profile a few of the members.

Named by Davis City Councilmember Don Saylor is the Reverend Kristin Stoneking, a campus minister and director of the Cal Aggie Christian Association. You may wonder what a Reverend would know about land use.

At first glance, the pick seems innocuous enough. The organization is self-described as a “diverse, open community” which is progressive—open minded, respectful, and willing to share and learn.

However, a further look shows that the Cal Aggie Chiristian Association and their Reverend Stoneking is at the center of a very heated battle.

Following the defeat of the peripheral development at Covell Village, much of the development battle will turn to infill—the building of smaller but perhaps taller and more dense developments within city limits. The advantage of infill for developers is that they do not require Measure J approval.

However, as the example of the Cal Aggie Christian Association demonstrates—even smaller scale projects can be hotly contested, especially those that are deemed to ruin the character of their neighborhood.

In 2004, the Association proposed the construction of a six building complex to house 38 students of a variety of faiths and backgrounds. However, the site that they picked was only a .8-acre site which had been two lots and zoned for a single-family home. The council voted by a 4-1 vote to approve a General Plan change to increase the density allowance for the lot. Greenwald, who is generally a strong support of infill development, was the only dissenter.

Members of the Elmwood Neighborhood Association objected to the size and density. They sued the city but that lawsuit was dismissed and then they filed an appeal.

That battle is still ongoing, but now Davis City Councilmember Don Saylor has put the focal figure in the fight on the steering committee for the next General Plan Housing element. This is a strong signal about the potential direction that the council might go in terms of infill development.

Those who live not only in the Elmwood neighborhood, but also other neighborhoods that might experience large-scale infill development should be aware of the ramifications of this appointment.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting