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The General Plan and Zoning Ordinance go hand-in-hand. The General Plan establishes broad, long-term policies to guide both private sector development and City investments. The Zoning Ordinance implements General Plan policies through detailed development regulations that specify what activities can happen where, and that specify standards for the height and design of new buildings. State law requires that the Zoning Ordinance be consistent with the General Plan.
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The project involves a targeted update to several "elements" (chapters) of the General Plan: Land Use, Housing, Safety, and Public Health. Updates are needed to respond to changing conditions in the community and new State laws. An important objective of the project is to stimulate new housing and jobs in the city to provide a greater variety of choices for people of all ages, abilities, and income levels. The project also involves a new Corridor Plan for Rumrill Boulevard that will be incorporated into the General Plan to describe the community’s vision for the future of the area and guide change over time.
The General Plan is San Pablo’s roadmap for the future of the city. It is a long-term document (looking ahead 20 years) that includes text and diagrams to describe how the community wants to see the city develop over time. It specifies locations for various activities (ex: housing, jobs, shops, schools), transportation improvements, new parks and open spaces, and other public infrastructure. The Plan guides urban development within the City limits — including development on both privately-owned and publicly owned land — and is used a basis for land use decisions by government officials such as the Planning Commission and the City Council. All cities and counties in California are required by law to have a general plan.
Our current General Plan was adopted in 2011 and won a national award of excellence from the American Planning Association. In many ways, the Plan is still serving the community well, but times have changes since 2011 and updates are needed to response to emerging trends and new State laws. The rise of internet shopping and e-commerce in recent years has meant a reduced demand for physical shops and the climate is changing, making summers are getting hotter and winters less rainy. The cost of housing is also rising rapidly in San Pablo and throughout California, and by law, the City must plan for at least 746 new homes by 2031 to keep pace with projected demand. The General Plan needs to be updated to address these issues and other key community priorities, including jobs and quality of life.
The Housing Element is a chapter of the General Plan that outlines the City's plan for addressing local housing needs. One of the key components of the Housing Element is the inventory of sites available for housing, presented in a table showing the location, size and zoning applicable to each site together with a projection of the number of housing units that could realistically be accommodated on the parcel in view of past trends and local conditions. A map of the sites is also included. By law, the Housing Element must also include an assessment of local housing needs, potential constraints to housing production, and fair housing issues - which means any factors that impede access to housing for disadvantaged groups like the disabled, the elderly, or racial of linguistic minorities. In view of that assessment, the Housing Element must include a program of actions to address identified needs, constraints and fair housing issues.
Pronounced “REE-NAH,” the term stands for Regional Housing Needs Allocation. It is a total number of new housing units the City must plan for over the next 8 years to address expected demand, as determined by the State of California. RHNA is split into four categories representing different levels of affordability, based on median income level in the county ($103,997). San Pablo must ensure the zoning map will allow for construction of sufficient housing at all levels of affordability over the next 8 years in order to meet its RHNA requirements:
Affordability (based on Contra Costa County Area Median Income (AMI))
No. New Units
Very Low Income
Households making less than 50% AMI
Households making 50-80% AMI
Households making 80-120% AMI
Above Moderate Income
Households making more than 120% AMI
The Rumrill Boulevard Corridor Plan will describe a shared vision for this important corridor in the southwestern part of San Pablo. The Plan will cover a segment of the corridor that runs between Brookside and Costa which has been designated a Priority Development Area (PDA). Today, there is an eclectic mix of businesses and housing on the corridor, but there are also many vacant and underused properties that could be redeveloped. A citywide survey conducted in early 2021 found strong community support for adding higher density housing options along the corridor, improving the look and feel of buildings, and planting trees and green spaces. The Corridor plan is an opportunity to plan holistically for the area and develop a strategy that will lead to improved environmental conditions, economic opportunities, and housing development sites
The timeline for the project is shown below. Work began in the summer of 2021 and adoption of the General Plan and Housing Element is anticipated in Spring/Summer 2023. Preparation of the Draft Housing Element is being prioritized to meet State-mandated deadlines.
Community engagement will be a vital component of the project and there will be many opportunities to have your say, including a citywide survey, community meetings, pop-up events around town, and hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council. To learn more about opportunities to participate and stay in the know, sign up for the mailing list: GeneralPlan@sanpabloca.gov or call 510-215-3030.