An analysis of the impact of growth management policies on the city of Petaluma, California
Studies were conducted to determine if the impact of the growth management plan adopted by Petaluma, California in 1972 for a five-year period, accomplished the goals and objectives established at the onset of the program. Uniform data were gathered for Petaluma and four control cities of similar size and location. The data were tested using Friedman's two-way analysis of variance by ranks test to determine likeness between the cities. Thirteen variables were selected to obtain an overview of characteristics relating to general information, revenue data, expenditure data, and debt information. The results of these tests indicated the five communities appeared strikingly similar in the period 1940-1970. Since Petaluma adopted its growth management scheme in 1972, the cities tested appear significantly different. To determine if that difference could be explained due to the growth management policies of Petaluma, five specific goals for the plan which were given by the city as reasons for taking the new planning approach, were stated as hypotheses and tested.
It was originally stated that adoption of a growth management planning scheme would lower the tax burden on the local taxpayer. The results of the tests do not support this statement; in fact, it appears the plan increased the local tax burden and reduced the citizens cost: benefit ratio with respect to the public services and facilities. Protecting and enhancing the environmental quality of new single and multifamily development projects was a cornerstone of the rationale for adoption of the growth management approach. The results of the test indicate projects in the control cities were of comparable environmental quality to those in Petaluma.
The third goal set by Petaluma as the city embarked on its growth management program was the provision of 8 to 12 percent annually of new housing stock at a cost which was affordable to the city's low and moderate income citizens. The results of the study indicate the Residential Development Control System, which is used to implement the city's new planning scheme is ineffective in achieving this goal. The point allocation system rewards additional amenities with higher points and actually works against developments designed for low and moderate income families.
Petaluma's plan requires all development proposals to be reviewed at the same time, so the volume of business in the planning department becomes feverish as the time for review and evaluation approaches. Has the impact of the new review schedule caused the city of Petaluma to increase the size of its planning staff? The test results indicate each city had different size planning staffs in relation to their population size and they continue to be as they were. It was found that adopting growth management planning, per se, could not be directly associated with the political fortunes of the city's elected officals. However, when the issue remained local, the effect divided voters into camps for and against the issue. When the city attracted national attention, the local voters rallied behind their officials and their plan.
The final goal set by the city was to balance new growth in the city so all three sectors shared in the development of the city. Analysis of the study data reveals that this goal was achieved extremely well. Goals set for each of the three sectors were within two percentage points of being right on target.
In summary, it appears that growth management planning policies are effective in achieving allocation goals, but are not as capable of achieving economic goals.