Frequently Asked Questions

What is included in the General Plan?

The City’s existing 2003 General Plan contains 6 elements:

  • Community Development
  • Economic Strategy
  • Circulation
  • Growth Management
  • Safety and Noise
  • Housing

As a part of updating the General Plan, the City may reorganize or add to existing elements and/or may add new elements to emphasize new planning issues that have arisen since the current General Plan was adopted.

Why Update the General Plan?

The City of Pleasant Hill adopted its current General Plan in 2003.  While the existing General Plan is serving the community well, the City has initiated the update to refine the Plan, address emerging trends and recent State laws, consider new issues, and remove completed implementation measures.  This effort is intended to be a fine-tuning of the existing General Plan, rather than a comprehensive overhaul of the document.  This planning effort will also allow the General Plan Team to implement best practices in planning to ensure Pleasant Hill is resilient to future risks while also improving quality of life.

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, safety, and environmental justice.  General plans may also address and emphasize other subjects of local importance.  The updated and integrated plan will guide how Pleasant Hill should develop and evolve, and where funds and resources for infrastructure, services, and programs should be directed.

What is the difference between the General Plan and Zoning?

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.  Zoning 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 be reflected in the zoning regulations.  State law requires that zoning be consistent with the General Plan.  Development must not only meet the specific requirements of the Zoning Code, but also the broader policies set forth in the General Plan.

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.

As required by CEQA Guidelines, the Pleasant Hill General Plan EIR will identify the potential environmental impacts associated with the implementation of the General Plan.  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, mobility and transportation, utilities, agricultural and forest resources, biological resources, cultural resources, geology and soils, and aesthetics.

When will the New General Plan be completed?

The General Plan is anticipated to be completed by May 2021.

Who is on the Consulting Team?

The General Plan consulting team consists of a core group of planners, urban designers, and technical specialists:

  • Mintier Harnish (lead consultant)
  • Rincon Consultants (environmental)
  • Fehr & Peers (mobility)
  • Applied Development Economics (fiscal and economic development)
  • Wallace Roberts and Todd (urban design)

Why should I get involved?

The General Plan Update process provides all residents and businesses with the chance to help guide the future of Pleasant Hill.  A successful General Plan will reflect the community vision and priorities, and we need public input to create the vision and priorities.

What is a Housing Element?

The City is currently working on an update to its Housing Element for the 2023-2030 planning period. The purpose of the housing element is to identify and analyze existing and projected housing needs in order to preserve, improve, and develop housing for all economic segments of the community. The Housing Element consists of two parts: a Background Report and Policy Document. The Background Report identifies the nature and extent of housing needs in the city, analyzes constraints to housing, and provides an inventory of sites available for residential use. The Background Report provides the basis for the City’s response to those needs in the Policy Document. The Policy Document includes goals, policies, and programs that will guide the City’s housing efforts through 2030.

What is included in the Housing Element?

Housing Elements are typically organized into the following parts:

  • Housing Needs Analysis
  • Analysis of Constraints to Housing Production
  • Inventory of Sites Suitable for Residential Development
  • Policy and Implementation Program
As a part of updating the Housing Element, the City will reorganize or add new sections to emphasize pertinent planning issues and respond to new State laws that have been passed since the current Housing Element was adopted. Following the adoption of the Housing Element, the Housing Element Team will:
  • implement of one or more of the Housing Element programs,
  • create objective residential design standards to reduce costs and permit processing times for developers, and,
  • draft amendments to the zoning ordinance for consistency with the new Housing Element.

Why update the Housing Element?

Since 1969, California has required that all cities and counties plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. California’s local governments meet this requirement by adopting housing elements as part of their “general plan” (also required by the State). General plans serve as the local government’s "blueprint" for how the city and/or county will grow and develop and include eight required elements: land use, transportation, conservation, noise, open space, safety, environmental justice, and housing (a ninth element, air quality, is required for cities and counties in the San Joaquin Valley). The law mandating that housing be included as an element of each jurisdiction’s general plan is known as “housing element law.”

California’s housing element law acknowledges that, for the private market to adequately address the housing needs and demand of Californians, local governments must adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for (and do not unduly constrain) housing development. As a result, housing policy in California rests largely upon the effective implementation of local general plans and, in particular, local housing elements.

Who oversees the Housing Element process?

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) plays the critical role of reviewing every local government’s housing element to determine whether it complies with State law and then submits written findings back to each local government. HCD must certify the housing element before the City can adopt it as part of the General Plan.

How can I get involved?

The General Plan Update process is an opportunity for community members to discuss the City’s future.  There will be many opportunities to participate, including meetings, pop-up events, and public hearings.  We have created numerous opportunities for the community to contribute their ideas to the Pleasant Hill General Plan Update process, including...

  • Attending a pop-up event or meeting
  • Joining the e-mail list to receive notifications of upcoming events
  • Submitting comments via this website
  • Mailing your comments to the Pleasant Hill Planning Division at 100 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill, CA, 94523

How will my feedback be used?

Public input from every engagement opportunity is recorded and cataloged to ensure that City staff and decision-makers have a full understanding of public sentiment when drafting the vision, guiding principles, goals, and policies.  The General Plan team, Planning Commission, and City Council will consider all public feedback on General Plan materials (including goals and policies) when making final Plan revisions.

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