Hoping to defeat a slow-growth initiative in the April 28 special election, the Vista City Council has voted to put a competing growth management measure on the ballot.
With the council's unanimous action Monday night, Vista becomes the third North County city in less than a year to decide the slow-growth debate at the polls.
Voters in Carlsbad last November favored a city-sponsored growth management plan over a more restrictive citizen initiative that would have placed an annual cap on the number of homes built in the city. In Oceanside, voters will go to the polls April 21 to decide between a slow-growth measure and a council-backed alternative.
In Vista, the situation will be much the same.
The primary thrust of the council-backed proposal is to manage growth by assuring that public facilities such as sewer lines and roads keep pace with development.
To do that, the council is proposing that it adopt a community facilities plan and design review guidelines for new growth. It also proposes that any increase in housing densities require a vote of the people.
Finally, the council's measure calls for an annual cap of 500 dwelling units built in the city each year.
Developers, however, could be exempted from that limit if they agreed to provide all public facilities necessary to serve their projects. Moreover, several developments already in the planning pipeline have been exempted by the council because they include needed public facilities.
"The whole idea behind the ordinance was to allow development so long as it provides the necessary infrastructure and public facilities," Councilman Eugene Asmus said.
The competing slow-growth initiative--sponsored by the grass-roots group Vistans for Honest Government--would limit the number of new housing units built each year to 569. In addition, it would establish a joint system to evaluate proposed projects.
Patsy Filo, president of Vistans for Honest Government, said the council-backed measure could easily be circumvented by developers, while her group's initiative would truly slow the rate of growth.
"We've had the safeguards the council is talking about in place for a long time," Filo said. "But the council simply trades off with developers and we continue to grow too fast."