Santa Maria City Council.
Mayor Alice Patino along with Councilmen Carlos Escobedo and Mike Cordero discuss delaying action on the General Plan Update and possible areas for future expansion. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A decision on Santa Maria’s future growth, and whether to target agricultural land for expansion over the next 25 years, will have to wait four more weeks. 

The City Council on Tuesday night voted 4-0 to delay the staff presentation and decision on the land-use alternatives for the Santa Maria General Plan Update.

Noting the absence of Councilwoman Maribel Aguilera-Hernandez on Tuesday night, Councilman Mike Cordero proposed the postponement of the item he called “vitally important.”

“I just think it’s such an important issue that the community and us as individuals deserve the input of all five council members,” Cordero said.

Aguilera-Hernandez couldn’t attend Tuesday’s meeting because of a conflict, Cordero said, adding that he also recognized a number of people in attendance to speak on the item.

“I hope you’ll consider not holding a vote until we have all five of us here because of the importance of this matter. I know that’s unusual, a little unprecedented, but I hope you’ll consider it,” Cordero added. 

Mayor Alice Patino said she strongly suggested Dec. 5 after noting that the next meeting falls on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and likely would find a number of residents unable to attend and speak.

They agreed to delay the item to the City Council’s Dec. 5 meeting agenda. 

The General Plan serves as a blueprint for the city’s future into 2045 with efforts to update the document underway for a couple of years.

In early September, a divided Planning Commission decided recommended a modified hybrid alternative that would focus on infill development along with annexation of 925 acres. 

Alternative A proposed annexing 1,770 acres, while Alternative B focused on infill development with intensified housing and job growth on major corridors and opportunity sites within the existing city limits. 

Land targeted for annexation sits east of Highway 101 and recently has been used for agriculture. 

Several people who requested to speak on the topic delayed their comments until the Dec. 5 meeting, but a few spoke up Tuesday.

The core issue centers on the impact of annexation on future growth and the allocation of resources within the city, according to Alhan Diaz-Correa from the Community Environmental Council. 

“The decision that you guys have before you is going to dictate the trajectory of the city’s development for decades, and it has far-reaching implications for our residents and our families and the environment,” Diaz-Correa said.