What is the General Plan?
The General Plan is the guide for the future social, physical, and economic development of the city. It is comprised of text, diagrams, and maps to effectively communicate how the document is to be implemented. The plan is a basis for land use decision-making used by policymakers such as the Planning Commission and the City Council.
Beyond serving as “the legal underpinning for land use decisions," the Governor's Office of Planning and Research casts the role of the General Plan in a more aspirational light: "It is a vision about how a community will grow, reflecting community priorities and values while shaping the future.”
Why is a General Plan required?
State law mandates that each city and county in California adopt a “comprehensive, long-term general plan.” The purpose is to plan for important community issues such as new growth, housing needs, and environmental protection. A general plan is used to project future demand for services such as sewer, water, roadways, parks, and emergency services.
What goes into the General Plan?
There are both State-mandated and optional “elements,” or chapters, that go into a general plan. These elements make up the framework for decision-making regarding growth and development in the City. State law requires that a general plan address the following seven core topics: Land Use, Circulation, Housing, Conservation, Open Space, Noise, and Safety. The City of Rolling Hills Estates’ General Plan will also include an additional element for Economic Development and will place a strong emphasis on Sustainability throughout all elements of the document.
Why is the General Plan being updated?
Rolling Hills Estates’ existing General Plan was adopted in 1992, and now needs to be comprehensively reexamined to ensure that it reflects the city’s goals and priorities for the next 20 years. Many of the objectives of the existing General Plan have been met, and new opportunities and challenges have arisen. A new plan is needed to manage the city’s future growth, foster economic development through placemaking in the commercial area, promote sustainability and protect natural resources, maintain community character while embracing newcomers, promote high quality design, and maintain public safety and municipal services – all of which contribute to the quality of life that residents have come to expect. A comprehensive update to the General Plan will enable the community to proactively and opportunistically guide the city through another 20-year cycle of growth, change, and public and private investment.
What is an Environmental Impact Report (EIR)?
An environmental impact report is a detailed analysis of the environmental effects of a plan or development project. The EIR identifies alternatives to the proposed project and presents ways to reduce or avoid environmental damage. Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a general plan is considered to be a “project,” and thus requires that an EIR is completed in conjunction with the plan. Community members can provide input at two different phases in the EIR process: in response to the Notice of Preparation (NOP), which declares that an EIR is going to be prepared and asks the public to comment on what the EIR should analyze; and to the Draft EIR itself, when the public is asked to comment on the adequacy of the environmental analysis.