General Plan Basics
State law requires all cities and counties in California to have a General Plan. The General Plan is the constitution of the City. It is the basic land use planning document. It must provide a comprehensive long-term plan for the physical development of all land within the City, as well as the area of likely expansion outside of the City known as the “Sphere of Influence”. For Woodland this would include the Urban Limit Line area that falls outside the City limits and the Sphere of Influence.
Each General Plan must include a minimum of seven mandatory elements, plus others as deemed appropriate by the jurisdiction. The required elements are:
In the simplest of terms, General Plan are comprised, at a minimum, of a land use map, a circulation and infrastructure map, and policy statements that guide all local land use decisions related to the intensity and geographical arrangement of land uses in the City. All elements of the General Plan must be internally consistent and consistent with one another. All elements are equal and no one element or policy can have primacy over another. Because Woodland incorporated as a “general law” city, State law dictates that the General Plan may be amended no more than four times per year.
With the exception of Housing Elements, State law sets no mandatory requirements for how often a general plan should be updated or how far into the future it should look. Housing Elements, however, must be updated a minimum of every five years and for jurisdictions within the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), new legislation (SB 375 of 2008) allows the City to seek an eight year horizon for the Housing Element due to the recent adoption of a regional Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS). The City will be seeking an eight-year Housing Element covering the statutory period from January 1, 2013 through October 31, 2021).
Outline of Current General Plan
The City’s current General Plan (adopted in February 1996 and updated in December 2002; Housing Element updated March 2009) is comprised of ten chapters and several appendices as follows:
Chapter 1: Land Use and Community Design Element
Chapter 2: Housing Element
Chapter 3: Transportation and Circulation Element
Chapter 4: Public Facilities and Services Element
Chapter 5: Recreational, Educational, & Community Services Element
Chapter 6: Historic Preservation Element
Chapter 7: Environmental Resources Element
Chapter 8: Health and Safety Element
Chapter 9: Economic Development Element
Chapter 10: Administration and Implementation Element
Appendix A: Woodland Area General Plan Urban Development Policy
Appendix B: Policy Document Glossary
Appendix C: General Plan/Zoning Consistency Matrix
Appendix D: Summary of Level of Service Standards
The working assumption for the General Plan update process is that it will be drafted in a format similar to the existing outline presented above, but with a new emphasis on sustainability.
The current General Plan has a horizon year of 2020 with the exception of the Housing Element which expires October 31, 2013. The updated General Plan will have a horizon year of 2035 (with the exception of the Housing Element, as explained above).
Woodland’s General Plan is implemented more specifically in four geographical areas of the City through four adopted Specific Plans:
Southeast Area Specific Plan (1990)
Downtown Specific Plan (1993; 2003)
East Street Corridor Specific Plan (1998)
Spring Lake Specific Plan (2001)
Other land use documents such as infrastructure master plans (streets, storm drainage, sewer, water, etc), economic development plans, and service master plans (parks, police, fire, bicycle, etc) are considered implementing documents for the General Plan. They are required under State law to be consistent with the General Plan, but were not adopted as “a part of” the General Plan.
To the extent that the specific plans or other land use documents will need updating as a result of the update of the General Plan, this will be identified as necessary implementation to follow the adoption of the new general Plan.
Key Components of the General Plan Update
The General Plan update is designed to be strategic, reflecting changed conditions and opportunities since the last update, incorporating new state requirements relating to climate changes and sustainability, while carrying forward policies and programs that do not need to be changed. The planning process includes outreach to engage the diverse Woodland community, and is being shepherded by a citizens’ Steering Committee, with direction by the Planning Commission and the City Council. It will include the following key components: