Herum \ Crabtree
September 28, 2012
SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY GENERAL PLAN UPDATE PROCESS
by Herum\Crabtree Attorneys on Friday, September 28, 2012 at 11:46am ·
San Joaquin County General Plan Update Process
By: Brett S. Jolley
In June 2008 San Joaquin County began the process of updating its 1992 General Plan. The Board of Supervisors will likely select its “preferred alternative” for the General Plan this fall.
The Function of the General Plan
Per state law, each county and general law city in California is required to have a general plan. The California Supreme Court describes the general plan as “a ‘constitution’ for future development.” DeVita v. County of Napa (1995) 9 Cal.4th 763, 773. The General Plan guides land use, economic, transportation, infrastructure, agricultural, resource, environmental, and other decisions and is intended to provide for orderly growth and convey the community’s values and expectations for the future. The General Plan includes both textual policies and a “land use diagram” or map and applies to all unincorporated areas of San Joaquin County. From a practical standpoint, land use decisions made by the County – such as zoning changes, use permits, and subdivision maps – implement and therefore must be consistent with the General Plan.
County Update Process and Current Status
Between 2008 and 2011 the County held a number of workshops, study sessions, and public hearings to receive public input and consider a number of alternatives to the General Plan. In spring 2012 Community Development Department Staff published a “recommended alternative,” as well as recommendations on requests from the public to change land use designations in the new General Plan. On June 21 and August 2, 2012 the County Planning Commission held public hearings to consider the recommended alternative and change requests. During the hearings the Planning Commission identified their preferences for a preferred growth alternative and recommendations for the land use change requests and prepared a recommendation for the Board of Supervisors.
A summary of the Planning Commission’s recommendations can be viewed here http://www.sjcgpu.com/pdf/SJC_PCStudySession_Summary_2012_06_21.pdf.
The Planning Commission’s recommendations will next be considered by the Board of Supervisors – likely this fall. Once the Board adopts its preferred alternative for the General Plan (which may differ from that recommended by the Planning Commission), County Staff will prepare an Environmental Impact Report or “EIR” as required by the California Environmental Quality Act. The EIR will evaluate potential environmental impacts from the General Plan Update, will propose mitigation measures to reduce environmental impacts, and will consider alternatives to the General Plan that may reduce or avoid environmental effects.
The Draft EIR will be circulated for public comment and the County will prepare responses to comments and may make modifications to the EIR or the General Plan based on those comments. From there the Planning Commission will hold hearings to consider the adequacy of the EIR and the appropriateness of the General Plan. The Planning Commission’s recommendation will then be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors for final consideration and approval.
What You Can Do
If you own property in the County and desire to change the land use designation or to see the County change or adopt new policies regarding development, now is the time to have your voice heard. You can get started by presenting comments to the Community Development Department or contacting Herum\Crabtree Attorneys to advise and assist with this process.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brett Jolley is a shareholder in the Stockton law firm of Herum\Crabtree. He regularly represents landowners, developers, community groups, public agencies, and non-profit corporations in land use and environmental matters throughout California. He can be reached at (209) 472-7700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.