Sustainable Saratoga’s comments on the Unified Development Ordinance
HELP SHAPE WHAT OUR FUTURE LOOKS LIKE
Sustainable Saratoga has been reviewing the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) draft. The UDO articulates the city’s land use regulations — both conservation and development standards — so we encourage citizens to be informed and to participate.
This zoning ordinance is vitally important for all city residents, because it sets the framework for the city’s development, land conservation, aesthetics, and character. Those rules must be based on the city’s Comprehensive Plan, the blueprint and vision for our community’s management of land and other precious resources.
For the past 30 years the “City in the Country” has been the prevailing land use concept for Saratoga Springs. This was reaffirmed in the opening page of the 2015 Comprehensive Plan:
“Saratoga Springs is the “City in the Country.” This concept reflects a city with an intensively developed urban core and an economically vibrant central business district, with well-defined urban edges and an outlying area of rural character, comprised of agriculture, open lands, natural and diverse environmental resources, and low density development.”
OUR CONCERNS ABOUT THE UNIFIED DEVELOPMENT ORDINANCE
Sustainable Saratoga has a long history of promoting sustainability and environmental protection by the Saratoga Springs’ City government. Sustainable Saratoga has thoroughly reviewed the UDO. We appreciate some of the improvements proposed in this second draft of the UDO, including some of the provisions for wetland buffers and urban forest preservation. However, there are still several areas where the current draft of the UDO is inconsistent with the vision and recommendations of the 2015 Comprehensive Plan.
Sustainable Saratoga has participated in several workshops and discussions with City staff, which we hope will be reflected in draft 3 of the UDO. Our biggest priorities to address in draft 3 are listed below.
1) The UDO weakens current protections for the Greenbelt and rural gateways;
2) The UDO should do more to further housing diversity and affordability;
3) The UDO should add protections for wetlands, streams and shorelines;
4) The UDO needs greater protections for our urban forest; and
5) The UDO should go farther in taking meaningful actions to address the climate crisis.