By Susan Bott
An urban growth boundary (UGB) is a line beyond which residents of a city are given a vote on whether that city will be able to expand beyond the UGB. It is used to protect agricultural land from unwise conversion to urban uses.
Urban growth boundaries have been used in California since 1990. Currently there are 63 cities (including some counties) with UGBs. Early ones have been renewed by the voters, including those of Ventura County and its cities. In our county, both Buellton and Goleta have UGBs.
Solvang needs a UGB so its residents will have a long-term vote on proposals that would increase the size of the city. It is residents who will bear the brunt of expansion outside the city limits since they already are impacted by traffic, including vehicles coming through their neighborhoods to avoid Highway 246 traffic in the Village area. They also realize there are limits to water availability.
What will Solvang’s urban growth boundary look like? Its border is the same as the current city limits and will be in effect for 20 years. Public schools, public services and facilities and state-mandated housing do not require a citizens’ vote to adjust the UGB.
How will an urban growth boundary benefit Solvang? It will encourage compact development and infill in Solvang. It will protect Solvang’s village character, for the rural gateways and vistas surrounding it are a critical part of that ambience. It will support downtown businesses. It will enable all to support and vote for well-thought-out projects in the western sphere of influence, the area that already has industrial activity. However, projects not beneficial to residents will not be approved.
During April, Solvang residents who want to vote on the UGB initiative will be contacting Solvang registered voters to obtain the signatures needed to place the initiative on the ballot. (They will find ways to do this that protect both the signers and the signature gatherers from the coronavirus). Your signature simply indicates that you think Solvang residents should be able to vote on whether they want to establish an urban growth boundary for Solvang at the Nov. 3 election.
This initiative is sponsored by the Save Our Solvang UGB Initiative Campaign Committee. Save Our Solvang was formed in 2017 in response to a proposal to enlarge Solvang by about a third without any vote by its residents.
Susan Bott is the chair of Save Our Solvang. To contact the organization email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to saveoursolvang.com.