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County Takes Major Step to Update Land Use Plans

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The first draft of the General Plan Update has been released by the Department of Planning and Land Use and is available for public comment, marking a significant step forward in the County’s effort to upgrade and improve its growth and development plans.

The plan, which is expected to be brought to County Supervisors for approval in 2010, is the first complete upgrade of the County’s General Plan in 30 years.

After the public comment period, the next step will be to finish writing the plan’s Environmental Impact Report, a process that could take 18 to 24 months.

General Plans guide community development. In general, they set the philosophy and policies that determine what gets built where -- how communities will accommodate growth while preserving character and protecting what the community values.

The General Plan Update would improve the current plan by balancing growth with the need to control traffic congestion, protect the environment, and ease the strain on essential services such as water supplies and fire protection. That will be accomplished in part by shifting 20 percent of future growth to western unincorporated communities with established infrastructure such as roads.

The General Plan Update would reduce the growth that the current general plan would allow by 15 percent. But it would still allow 168,000 to 198,000 more people to live in the unincorporated communities that now house roughly 491,800 people.

The draft General Plan Update was developed with broad public input from builders, business owners, environmentalists, farmers, homeowners, landowners and renters.

More information is available here.