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Open house to focus on economic development

July 23, 2014

Ongoing, long-term planning efforts by the City of Bishop have now arrived in the realm of economic development.
After addressing other areas in recent years such as mobility and housing, officials are now taking a serious look at the current economic situation in Bishop, what needs to change, what should stay the same and how any potential change should be put into effect.
Essentially, according to Planning Director Gary Schley, the city is creating an updated road map that future projects, funding allotments and legislative changes will follow.
And residents, business owners and others with a vested interest in the commercial viability of Bishop are being asked to help draw that map.
“Public participating is very important to this project,” Schley said.
The public will have its first chance to provide valuable input beginning next week. An open house is scheduled for 3-7 p.m. next Wednesday, July 30 in the Executive Conference Room at Bishop City Hall, 377 W. Line St. Participants may come and go any time during the four-hour event.
Next week is when the city officially “kicks off” its work with consultant BBC Research & Consulting. According to Schley, the firm is well accustomed to working with communities facing issues resulting from tourist-based economies. In fact, he said, the company does a lot of work with small towns in Colorado comparable in size and demographics to Bishop.
“We’re confident they’ll provide a quality product to us,” Schley said.
That product, in the end, will be an updated Economic Development Element to the city’s General Plan, one of nearly a dozen elements within the plan that serves as the city’s go-to source for rules and regulations.
“The General Plan is basically a set of guidelines, a footprint, for the city to follow,” Schley said. Each element in the General Plan – Mobility, Housing, Land Use, Public Services/Facilities, Parks/Recreation – has its own goals, objectives and action items contained therein.
“It’s a working document,” he said, “… it’s also very important to have in place to apply for or receive grants. One of the requirements is to have an updated and comprehensive General Plan.”
In other words, those holding the money don’t want to give it away to someone who doesn’t have a clear vision for how it should be spent – similar to investors not wanting to get involved with entrepreneurs with weak or missing business plans.
In fact, Schley said, it was the city’s recently updated Housing Element that led to the $100,000 planning grant now funding the consultant work on the Economic Development Element update.
The Economic Development Element, he noted, was last updated in 1993. “It’s due.”
The kick-off week will include an interagency engagement by the consultants, who plan to meet with representatives from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Bishop Paiute Tribe, County of Mono, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, which Schley called “a real important cog in the whole process.”
And of course there’s the open house, which will include six different “stations” encouraging feedback on various aspects of economic development.
This feedback will form the basis of a Strategic Plan developed by the consultants, which will eventually be incorporated into an updated General Plan element, which, Schley said, will guide the city to where its citizens want to be economically.
The open house stations will address and include the following:
1. The Economic Development Element itself, as well as previous goals and policies and the recently updated Housing and Mobility elements.
2. Residents will be asked to identify Bishop’s strengths that support the economy and challenges that hinder the economy.
3. A questionnaire will be presented that includes questions such as “What brought you to Bishop?” “Why do you stay?” “What should change?” and “What should stay the same?” The form can be placed in a ballot box.
4. The Penny Exercise: participants will be given 10 pennies to distribute between 15 jars labeled with different ideas and values such as new business recruitment, tourism promotion, downtown improvements and place-making, bike infrastructure, arts and cultural activities and job training.
5. Participants will be asked about promoting Bishop. Example: If somebody was thinking of taking a vacation to Bishop, what would you tell them? And, if someone was thinking of moving to Bishop, what would you not tell them?
6. Bishop’s role in the regional economy as it relates to goods and services, agriculture, health care, financial services, housing, arts and culture, light industry, construction goods and services and outdoor recreation goods and services.
Most of the questions can be answered by placing stickers next to choices on poster boards, Schley explained.
Again, the end product will only be as good as the feedback received during these initial stages.
“We’re hoping for a lot of public input,” Schley said.
Residents may also provide written comments at any time and drop them off at Public Works at City Hall.
For more information, call (760) 873-5863 or visit www.ca-bishop.us.

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