Land Use
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Land Use
My last Council Corner was about moving forward on the long term plan for our City. Other Council Members have written about the five focus areas and the subcommittees that we have formed to focus on those areas as part of the long term plan. One of the subcommittees that I am a member of is Land Use and that is what I would like to talk about a bit here.  

Land Use is, in many ways, the fundamental basis of how a city operates. It is the determination of what goes where. What land will be used for residential, for offices, for laboratories, for retail, for parks, for recreation, for open space, for municipal services, and so on. Land Use was the basis of the initial plan by T. Jack Foster for Foster City. Today, as our City reaches build out, we need to look, more than ever, at land use and how to make the land we have as efficient and effective as possible while ensuring that our use of land does not overstretch our infrastructure. That is a large challenge.  

In 2014, we changed the law in Foster City about how we look at land use changes. Today, all proposed land use changes in Foster City come to the City Council first in a public hearing for an advisory review on the issue of whether the land use change being proposed will be acceptable to the public and the policy holders. In 2014 we saw several times where the Council Chambers was packed with the public, taking the opportunity to give us feedback on proposed land use changes. Edgewater Shopping Center, Charter Square and a possible marina project were just a few of the projects that went through that review process. The great thing about it is that we had the chance to look at the proposal at the beginning of the process and to get feedback from the public before the process had a chance to develop momentum. All in all, I think it worked very well and the public participation was amazing!  

I am sure that as we move forward that there will be more times when property owners want to do things with their property that are different than what is currently allowed. In each case they will start with the advisory review process and public feedback at a public hearing. Ultimately, however, the decision to change land use is one that is made by the City Council. New housing, new offices, new retail and so on, is a decision of the City Council. We are the people you elect to make those decisions and that is ultimately where those decisions lie.  

Lately, it seems that some believe that the decision of what to build and where to build it lies with the Planning Commission. It does not. The Planning Commission plays the important role of ensuring that what the City Council decides should be allowed will comply with the law and fit in the community, but what should be built and where it should be built is a decision of the City Council, not the Planning Commission.  

I say this because I think that land use will continue to be a significant issue for our City for some time to come and I want people to understand that when potential new projects are presented, feedback should be given to the City Council. You can give feedback at the initial review hearing, or you can email us, call us, visit with us, or write to us with your thoughts.  

To try to expand the way we reach out to the community, our land use subcommittee will be exploring new ways to make giving feedback to us simpler and easier. It is our vision that Land Use decisions will become more transparent and seek more and better community feedback as we move into the future. Some of this is already happening and I am hopeful that we will become better and better at reaching out to the public when making these types of important decisions. We need outreach to educate and to communicate. This is our community and we need to make sure that it meets our vision. That sense of transparency and participation is what we are trying to build in all areas of Foster City government. By doing, so we strive to be the leaders of tomorrow much as we have been the leaders in the past.  

As always, the best way to reach me is email

Council Corner

March 09, 2016
Land Use

City Hall - 610 Foster City Blvd.
Foster City, CA 94404
(650) 286-3200