KINGSBURG – At its upcoming meeting on Aug. 16, Kingsburg City Council will vote on an update to the city’s Growth Management System (GMS). If approved, this will provide specific timelines for builders to begin construction on new homes, as well as set timelines for when the construction of off site improvements must commence.
Kingsburg City Manager Alexander J. Henderson introduced the ordinance to update the system at the Aug. 2 council meeting. According to Henderson, proposed updates to the system include:
- Requiring applicants to provide the city a final map of the project within two years of receiving a building allocation (or the allocation will expire). When the final map is approved, this starts the construction clock; meaning, the applicant must begin building within two years of receiving approval.
- Requiring applicants to provide a tentative building map when applying for an allocation.
- Requiring applicants to receive council approval for additional allocations.
- Granting the council discretion to award unused or roll-over allocations.
According to the amended language, an allocation will expire if the city does not approve a developer’s final entitlement within one year of the date the allocation was granted, or within two years if property needs to be annexed for the development.
Developers have four years to complete off site improvements – installation of utilities, construction of roads, etc. – from the date of the allocation award.
IT STILL TAKES TIME
In an interview with the Times, Henderson said that while the proposed changes to the GMS will, if approved, expedite the process, building new single or multi-family homes takes time.
“Unless it’s the perfect situation where a property has everything in place, there is almost no situation where a builder who received an allocation the year prior will start building the following year,” Henderson said.
Henderson said even the new requirement that requires a builder to present a rough or tentative draft of a building map when applying for an allocation, does not mean the city will immediately rubber stamp a project.
“We are asking them (developers) to sharpen their pencils a little bit. They have to have a tentative map so we know if they’re on the right track,” he said.
He added, “If someone came in and said, ‘I want to put 100 lots on 20 acres,’ we can look at our zoning code and say, ‘Well, that’s never going to happen. That’s never going to be the project we agree upon.’”
MARKETS BUILD HOUSES
There is also the market to consider.
“The city doesn’t build houses. The market builds houses,” said Henderson.
He noted that the developer of Kings Estates to the northeast of the city received allocations in 2017. Construction is still ongoing because the market determines what people will buy, which results in phased building or incremental construction.
“The general public sees the homes and says, ‘They keep allowing all this building.’ But those were allocations given five or six years ago when no building was occurring,” Henderson said. “But now a confluence of things has driven more home development.”
He added, “You could receive allocations in 2024 but not actually pull building permits until 2026.”
GROWTH MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
According to Henderson, the origin of the system dates back to the early 2000s.
“A very large development was proposed in the early 2000s,” he said. When it came to light, there was a lot of concern in the community about the impact such a large development would have on the city’s resources.
In 2004, city council asked residents to vote if they wanted to place a cap on the number of single and multi-family homes that could be constructed each year. Eighty percent of the voters said yes. The city adopted the Residential Growth Management System in 2006.
On Jan. 13, 2022, council and the planning commission took part in an allocation process workshop. Henderson said that, owing to the recession of the late 2000s, there wasn’t a lot of new home construction in Kingsburg; beginning in 2015, this changed. He said there was more interest in building, with more new home construction occurring in 2017. The uptick in new construction revealed problems with the GMS.
“You had staff working within the confines of the system. We found the practical application of it had some ambiguities,” he said. He added the city continued to work on the issues throughout 2022 and finalized the updates to the ordinance this year.