General Plan 101

  1. What is the General Plan?
  2. What is included in the General Plan?
  3. How does the General Plan benefit the City of Huntington Beach?
  4. Why update the City’s General Plan?
  5. What are the legal requirements to update the General Plan?
  6. My neighborhood is covered by a Specific Plan. Should I participate in the General Plan update?
  7. What is the difference between the General Plan and the Zoning Ordinance?
  8. Will there be zone changes with the General Plan update?
  9. What is the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program?
  10. What is a Local Coastal Program (LCP)?
  11. What is an Environmental Impact Report (EIR)?
  12. What is the City’s Municipal Code?
  13. What is the process to update the City’s General Plan?
  14. When will the General Plan update be completed?
  15. Why should I get involved?
  16. How can I get involved?
  17. How will my feedback be used?
  18. When are public meetings being held?
  19. Will the public receive notification about the General Plan update public hearings, or other related public meetings?
  20. How will the General Plan Update affect pending projects?
  21. What other committees are providing input as part of this update?
  22. What are key terms I need to know?

 

1. What is the General Plan?

The General Plan is the fundamental policy document of the City of Huntington Beach. It provides the framework for management and utilization of the City’s physical, economic, and human resources. By providing a basis for rational decision-making, this document guides civic decisions regarding land use, the design and/or character of buildings and open spaces, the conservation of existing housing and the provision of new dwelling units, the provisions of supporting infrastructure and public services, the protection of environmental resources, the allocation of fiscal resources, and the protection of residents from natural and human-caused hazards.

The General Plan acts to clarify and articulate the City’s intentions with respect to the rights and expectations of the public, property owners, and prospective investors and business interests. Through the plan, the City informs these groups of the community’s goals, objectives, and policies, thereby communicating the expectations and responsibilities of all sectors in fulfilling the General Plan.

Learn more about the City’s existing General Plan here.

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2. What is included in the General Plan?

The City’s existing General Plan consists of the following 16 elements.

As part of the General Plan update, the existing General Plan elements will be reorganized around key issues that cut across multiple topics, while maintaining or exceeding state requirements. In addition, a comprehensive implementation program will be prepared identifying specific programs designed to achieve goals and carry out policies across chapters.

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3. How does the General Plan benefit the City of Huntington Beach?

The General Plan includes goals and policies to:

  • Create healthy connected neighborhoods by investing in centers and corridors.
  • Encourage job growth by providing land and infrastructure services for development.
  • Support a healthy environment by connecting habitats and preserving both environmental and cultural resources.
  • Increase social equity through strategic infrastructure investments.
  • Improve resiliency by preparing for earthquakes, climate change, and other natural hazards.

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4. Why update the City’s General Plan?

The current General Plan was adopted in 1996. To ensure our General Plan remains a useful tool, it must keep pace with change and provide workable solutions to the issues now facing the City. The General Plan update will provide a comprehensive policy framework that more accurately reflects growth, resource protection regulations, recent state legislation, and local ordinances, and provides a guide for future land use patterns.

For many of the individuals and organizations that call Huntington Beach home, quality of life has always been a high priority. The City of Huntington Beach is a leader in sustainability, preservation, and finding solutions to civic challenges. As a constantly evolving city, an updated General Plan will help Huntington Beach define a more sustainable model for growth and development. The updated General Plan will solidify the City’s vision for maintaining and improving neighborhoods and districts, while allowing areas to maintain a distinct sense of place.

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5. What are the legal requirements to update the General Plan?

State law requires the City to adopt a General Plan to address land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, noise, and safety, and a Coastal Land Use Plan addressing coastal access, recreation, resource protection, and development. These plans may also address and emphasize other subjects of local importance. The updated and integrated plan will guide how the city should develop and change, and where funds and resources for infrastructure, services, and programs should be directed.

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6. My neighborhood is covered by a Specific Plan. Should I participate in the General Plan update?

Yes! The General Plan update provides policies for guiding growth and development throughout the city, including those areas covered by a Specific Plan (which is a zoning document). The General Plan will provide the framework for any future specific plans and updates to ensure consistency between specific plans and the citywide General Plan.

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7. What is the difference between the General Plan and the Zoning Ordinance?

The General Plan sets forth long-term policies that guide future development. It identifies the types of development that will be allowed, the spatial relationships among land uses, and the general pattern of future development. The Zoning Ordinance implements general plan policies through detailed development regulations, such as specific use types and building standards. However, the land uses specified in the General Plan will usually be reflected in the local zoning maps as well. Although the purpose and intent of zoning is different from the General Plan, state law requires that zoning be consistent with maps and policies in the General Plan. Development must not only meet the specific requirements of the Zoning Ordinance, but also the broader policies set forth in the General Plan.

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8. Will there be zone changes with the General Plan update?

Not necessarily or immediately. Following the General Plan update, the City will propose any needed modifications to the Zoning Ordinance to ensure consistency between the two.

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9. What is the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program?

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program (GGRP) is the City of Huntington Beach’s comprehensive approach to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) within the community. The GGRP establishes Huntington Beach’s existing, projected, and target levels of GHG emissions and identifies how the City can achieve target levels through an extensive set of strategies, emphasizing actions that are voluntary, economically viable, consistent with community character, and advance the priorities of Huntington Beach residents, businesses, and visitors.

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10. What is a local coastal program (LCP)?

Local coastal programs (LCP) are required planning tools used by local governments to guide development in the coastal zone, in partnership with the California Coastal Commission. LCPs contain the ground rules for future development and protection of coastal resources in California’s coastal cities and counties. LCPs are prepared by local governments to govern decisions that determine the short- and long-term conservation and use of coastal resources. The LCP specifies appropriate location, type, and scale of new or changed uses of land and water. Each LCP includes a land use plan and measures to implement the plan, such as zoning ordinances. While each LCP reflects unique characteristics of individual local coastal communities, regional and statewide interests and concerns must also be addressed in conformity with Coastal Act goals and policies. Following adoption by a city council or county board of supervisors, an LCP is submitted to the California Coastal Commission for review for consistency with Coastal Act requirements.

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11. What is an environmental impact report (EIR)?

Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the potential environmental impacts of all major development projects must be assessed, disclosed, and appropriately mitigated. The results of this environmental review process are conveyed in the form of an environmental impact report, or EIR.

CEQA identifies general plan updates as “major projects.” As required by CEQA Guidelines, the Huntington Beach General Plan update EIR will identify the potential environmental impacts associated with implementation of the General Plan update. This analysis will assess and, if necessary, include measures to mitigate potential impacts related to CEQA-required topics. These topics include: air quality; greenhouse gases; hazards and hazardous materials; hydrology; land use; noise; population and housing; public services; recreation; traffic and transportation; utilities; agricultural and forest resources; biological resources; cultural resources; geology, soils, and mineral resources; and aesthetics.

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12. What is the City’s Municipal Code?

The City of Huntington Beach’s Municipal Code is the organization of rules and regulations that control what is built on the ground, and the corresponding uses that occupy buildings and sites.  The Municipal Code implements the General Plan goals and policies.

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13. What is the process to update the City’s General Plan?

HB Update Process Chart-03

The General Plan update process includes the following steps:

  • Understanding Huntington Beach
    • During this initial phase, the General Plan team will collect information needed to form the baseline existing conditions analysis for the General Plan, and also work to raise awareness about opportunities to participate in the General Plan update.
  • Community Visioning
    • Community input during this phase will be used to develop a vision for the next 20 years in Huntington Beach. The visioning process will involve a series of community workshops and events to elicit information, ideas, and concerns from residents.
  • Identify Issues, Goals, and Policies
    • The goals and policies make up the heart of the General Plan. They are the guidelines for achieving the community’s vision. How will we build upon our many assets to strengthen our community? What strategies will further improve the quality of life in Huntington Beach? These are the kinds of questions that the City will address at this point in the process, with input from Huntington Beach residents, businesses, and stakeholders. Community members will have the opportunity to provide input during this phase at a series of pop-up workshops that will be hosted throughout the city.
  • Preparation of Administrative Draft Planning Documents
    • The General Plan team will prepare a draft General Plan for review by City staff.
  • Preparation of Administrative Draft EIR
    • A General Plan is considered a project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), so the City must analyze the potential environmental impacts of carrying out the General Plan.
  • Preparation of Public Review Draft Documents
    • The General Plan team will prepare a public review draft General Plan and EIR for public comment. The team will present the plan at a series of pop-up workshops and draft EIR at a community scoping meeting where residents will be invited to learn about the different topics covered in the documents and provide feedback.
  • Preparation of Final Documents and Public Hearings
    • The General Plan will go to the Planning Commission and the City Council for public hearings. The community will have several opportunities to provide comments during the final hearings.
  • Plan Adoption
    • The City Council will consider the draft General Plan at a duly noticed public hearing.

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14. When will the General Plan update be completed?

The General Plan update is anticipated to be completed by September 2017.

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15. Why should I get involved?

Your voice is important to the process! The General Plan update provides all residents, landowners, and businesses with the chance to help guide the future of Huntington Beach, making it a place where our families and businesses will continue to thrive. In the coming months the City will be collecting your thoughts on topics that are important to Huntington Beach residents and businesses, such as:

  • What do you enjoy about living in Huntington Beach?
  • What do you consider to be the community’s greatest strengths, as well as future challenges and opportunities?
  • How can the City further improve Huntington Beach’s great quality of life?

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16. How can I get involved?

The General Plan update is an opportunity for community members and other major stakeholders to discuss the City’s future. There will be many opportunities to participate, including meetings, workshops and public hearings. But busy schedules can make participation tough. That is why we have created numerous ways for the community to put their mark on the City’s General Plan update. They include:

  • Attending a public workshop or event.
  • Completing the online survey
  • Joining the e-mail list or signing up for notifications of upcoming events
  • Liking the City on Facebook and or following the City on Twitter to stay informed and share your opinion.
  • Providing us with comments
  • Writing a letter to:
    • Huntington Beach City Hall
      Planning and Building Department (attn. General Plan Update)
      2000 Main Street, 3rd Floor
      Huntington Beach, CA 92648
      (714) 536-5271
      info@hbthenextwave.org

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17. How will my feedback be used?

Community input will help the City make quality decisions to create a more livable community for all Huntington Beach residents and businesses. Comments and feedback during public meetings will be reviewed and used to identify community issues, goals, and policies. All of this information helped staff to develop the draft General Plan update, which can be viewed here

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18. When are public meetings being held?

Public input is a vital part of the public planning process.  Please join us and attend an upcoming community workshop or event to learn more about the General Plan update and have your voice heard.

Learn more about upcoming events and meetings here

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19. Will the public receive notification about the General Plan update public hearings, or other related public meetings?

Yes. You can request to be added to the General Plan update mailing list for public hearing/meeting notices via e-mail. All notices for public meetings, workshops, and environmental documents, as well as copies of draft documents, will be posted on the General Plan update website.

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20. How will the General Plan update affect pending projects?

The General Plan update includes a provision for projects with completed applications filed prior to the effective date of the General Plan update to be reviewed for consistency with the previously adopted General Plan. After adoption of the General Plan update, these projects may be maintained as originally approved, provided the approval is still valid and has not expired. Any subsequent changes of use or intensity will be subject to the policies of the City of Huntington Beach General Plan update.

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21. What other committees are providing input as part of this update?

The City Council has determined that a General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) will be appointed to support the General Plan update. Multiple task forces consisting of GPAC members, the City’s Environmental Board members, and other community experts will also be convened to provide feedback on key project milestones and review technical studies throughout the General Plan update process.  Learn more about the GPAC and Task Force meetings here.

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22. What are key terms I need to know?

 

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