Saturday, 01 October 2022

Clearlake forms Vision Task Force

CLEARLAKE – The City of Clearlake is looking for volunteers to help chart the course for the city’s future.


The Clearlake Vision Task Force will be part of a community-driven effort that will produce plans for how the city should grow and develop.


Task force members will attended between 15 and 20 meetings, where officials expect there will be lively discussions, heated arguments, tough compromises and ultimately, consensus.


City Administrator Dale Neiman said the process will produce a plan for Clearlake created by city's residents and business owners, the stakeholders who will decide what sort of community will be left to their kids and grandkids.


The results of their efforts will be the policies that will be the backbone of plans, programs and priorities affecting all aspects of community life, Neiman said.


The Task Force will set the agenda, addressing a variety of community concerns including infrastructure, such as streets and utilities; economic development; residential development; services to residents, such as public safety, youth and senior activities; and much more.


Neiman said the objective is to present a report to the City Council that represents the community’s view of what needs to be done in order for Clearlake to become the best it can be, and to generate the interest and enthusiasm to keep the process moving forward in the years to come.


The qualifications for participating in the Vision Task Force process are simple, said Neiman. Members must want to plan for the city’s future while protecting those qualities that make the city special; care deeply about the kind of community they want to leave to future generations; and think in terms of tomorrow, not yesterday. Those who only want to complain need not apply, he said.


Irwin Kaplan, the city's interim Community Development director, said a community-driven process is needed because change doesn't come easily.


“We need to find solutions to difficult problems that have only gotten worse over the years,” Kaplan said. “But the motivation to change comes from knowing that change is already happening and that our choice is either to take control of our destiny, or be the victims of change. Just look at what has been happening with land speculation and new development, large and small.”


An overview of recent activity presented to a joint meeting of the City Council and the Planning Commission on Jan. 27th indicated the following:


– Residential permits issued last year: 195 new residential units.


– Permits in process: Commercial, 22,000 square feet; residential, 1,156 units.


– Pending redevelopment projects (commercial and residential): Airport Business Park, Austin Harbor.


– Exploratory interest: Borax Lake, 1,000 acres; 500+ acre project for vineyards, condos ranchettes and commercial.


Originally developed as a community for summer cabins, Clearlake has been transitioning to a community of year-round homes that it was never designed to accommodate, officials say.


Without the street improvements, water and sewer systems in place, the community finds itself in the position of trying to accommodate development with outdated infrastructure, often being called upon to make instant decisions to do what is best under the circumstances while under the pressure to approve projects.


“This is like building the airplane while flying it,” Kaplan said. “People investing in the community are the wind in the community’s sails. The city can choose to ignore it and go wherever the wind blows it, or the city can take control of its destiny and decide where it wants the ship to go.


“But make no mistake,” Kaplan added, “the wind is beginning to blow. Just look at what is happening to land values.”


And Clearlake shouldn’t be sold short, Kaplan added, “because very, very few communities are blessed with the natural gifts of Clearlake.”


The committee will represent a wide range of interests -- youth and the elderly, men and women, businesses and residents, owners and renters, etc. -- so that the plan for Clearlake can be for all its residents.


If you are interested in serving on the Task Force, you can find an application on the City’s Web site at www.clearlake.ca.us, or call City Clerk Melissa Swanson, 994-8201, Extension 106, to have one sent to you. You also may stop by City Hall Monday through Thursday to pick up an application.


Applications should be returned by April 2, so that the selection process can be completed by April 12.


A recent decision by the City Council makes Vision Task Force membership open to anyone who owns property within the city limits, and to any business owners who have a business in the city but who do not necessarily live in Clearlake.


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