In 2010, the City of Santa Monica adopted a Land Use and Circulation Element to its General Plan that was hailed as a model of progressive planning. The LUCE foretold a denser but, possibly, less trafficked and more pleasant city and was one of the first such elements to achieve the goals of SB 375. Cities across the state looked to the LUCE as a model. It won "Outstanding Comprehensive Planning Award, Small Jurisdiction" from the California Chapter of the American Planning Association http://www.cp-dr.com/node/2773.
In the continuous scrum of Los Angeles County planning, some kind of milestone was reached this spring when the Board of Supervisors formally approved the county's 2035 General Plan update.
The new document is the first comprehensive rewrite of county planning rules since 1980. Among other things, it represents a new focus on the county's urbanized unincorporated areas, as well as more traditional undeveloped areas on the fringe. It is the first L.A. County general plan to take advantage of digital mapping approaches in promoting more consistent groupings of land use policies across multiple properties and types of ownership. It's an approach that meshes well with current state and federal planning processes for alternative energy -- which matters especially because of pressures for solar and wind energy development in the Antelope Valley.
Tulare County is a diverse 4,800 square miles, with extensive, mountainous public lands in the east, and some of the country's most fertile farmland in the west. It encompasses the Sequoia Park, parts of the Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia National Forest, and every year hosts the World Ag Expo. How all of these diverse elements fit into a single general plan is the question that has vexed planners and stakeholders alike for the better part of the past decade.
Even if it takes a village to raise a child, apparently it does not take a planning department to raise a village. Or even a city of villages.
The City of San Diego's Planning Department won national acclaim for its 2008 "City of Villages" general plan update, which was guided by outgoing Planning Director Bill Anderson and his predecessor, Gail Goldberg. But budget constraints have compelled Mayor Jerry Sanders to order that the department be shut down and merged with the Development Services Department.
Voters will face only a handful of local ballots March 8, and the slate is mercifully light--and concentrated in Southern California. After a November election (see CP&DR Vol. 25, No. 21 Nov. 2010) packed with some of the most contentious local and statewide questions in recent memory, next month's smattering of project approvals and parking spats likely comes as welcome relief. The biggest local question surrounds the would-be city of Jurupa Valley, which will vote to become yet the newest city in the Inland Empire, a region that is maturing in fits and starts.
Deep in the heart of John Steinbeck country, city folks, rural folks, farmers, businesses and everyone in between are still waging dubious battle over control of Monterey County land. After an 11-year process, a general plan update was unanimously approved by the county's Board of Supervisors on October 26.
With the implementation of SB 375 still to come, cities across California will be challenged to revamp their general plans to meet goals of reducing vehicle miles traveled and promoting more compact development. In the race to write the perfect plan, the City of Santa Monica has, according to some, taken an early lead with the approval in July of a new land use and circulation element (LUCE).