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Preliminary Planning Commission Draft General Plan

Part 1 - Setting

Part 1 of the Plan discusses the purpose, form and content of the General Plan. This includes a review of the Plan’s intended uses and guiding principles, the Plan development process and a reader’s guide. Also included are policies regarding public participation, maintenance and amendments to the Plan, and inter-governmental coordination.

Chapter 1: Introduction

The Humboldt County General Plan (the Plan) is the comprehensive guide for the long term growth and development of the County. The California Supreme Court has called the general plan the "constitution for future development." The general plan expresses the community’s goals, visions, and policies relative to future land uses, both public and private. The general plan is mandated and prescribed by state law (California Government Code §65300 et seq.), and forms the basis for most local government land use decision-making.

Chapter 2: Public Guide to the General Plan

This chapter provides a guide for reading and using the Plan. It describes the organization of the Plan, the alternatives that are presented in the Plan and how to track them, the layout of a typical chapter, and the relationship of this document to other planning documents.

Chapter 3: Governance Policy

This chapter contains policies on how the County intends to administer this plan and what citizens can expect when dealing with the County on land use matters. The chapter also includes sections on amendments to the Plan and inter-governmental coordination.

Part 2 - Building Communities

Part 2 is the heart of the Plan. This section includes background on population trends and land supply, policies for growth management, the land use element, public facilities and infrastructure, and traffic and pedestrian circulation. The section also includes reference to the housing element, and the optional elements of community design and economic development.

Chapter 4: Managing Growth

This chapter presents planning concepts that address key issues recognized during the public outreach and plan development process:

  • population growth and land supply
  • urban and rural boundaries
  • infrastructure
  • available land inventory

Chapter 5: Land Use Element

The Land Use Element guides patterns of development for the County, providing a long-range context for decisions made regarding zoning, subdivision and public works. This element is arranged into several components:

Urban Land Use

This component establishes policies regarding land uses in urban areas, including residential, commercial, industrial, mixed use and other land uses.

Rural Residential Land Use

This component provides policies for the Planned development of rural lands, including issues related to compatibilities with adjacent working lands and consideration of natural resource issues.

Forest Resources Land Use

This component establishes policies that address the use and protection of the County’s timberlands. Pursuant to the Government Code, the Land Use Element is required to "designate in a land use category that provides for timber production those parcels of real property zoned for timber production pursuant to the California Timberland Productivity Act of 1982".

Agricultural Land Use

This component establishes policies to insure the stability and productivity of the County’s agricultural lands and industries, with the intention of providing clear guidelines for decisions in agricultural areas. It is also intended to express policies, programs and measures that promote and protect the current and future needs of the agricultural industry.

Agricultural land use is also component of the Conservation and Open Space Element. Agricultural resources may be impacted by land use changes caused by development as well as by open space conservation decisions.

Public Lands

This section contains policies to enable coordination of planning activities in the County with planning activities of public land agencies.

Chapter 6: Maps

The general plan establishes the kinds, locations, and intensities of land uses as well as applicable resource protection and development policies. This chapter contains maps and diagrams that support and illustrate the Plan. The General Plan includes two types of maps, official and background. Official maps show the geographic application of Plan policies, while background maps provide support information. Official map sets will include: Land Use, Biological Resources, Flood Hazard, Geologic and Circulation/Public Facilities. Background maps are included in the topical chapters.

Chapter 7: Community Infrastructure and Services

The purpose of this element is to present policies and implementation measures for providing for infrastructure needs based on a realistic analysis of existing capacity, future demand, and financing options for water and wastewater, police, fire, road and stormwater control infrastructure. This chapter also includes policies relating to Telecommunications infrastructure. The background analysis supporting these policies allows for determination of the location of future facilities and improvements, acceptable levels of service, funding methods and priorities, and the timing of facility and service availability.

Development in Humboldt County is constrained by infrastructure and service limitations. The County has defined specific "Urban Study Areas" to evaluate infrastructure capacity in light of the projected demand for housing for all income levels for the next 20 years.

Chapter 8: Circulation Element

The Circulation Element is an infrastructure plan that addresses the circulation of people, goods, and services.  This element is developed in coordination with applicable state and regional transportation plans. The element includes information on existing transportation facilities including roadway capacities and levels of service, as well as planned transportation improvements, including pedestrian and bikeway improvements. By statute, the element must correlate directly with the land use element, and is directly related to housing, open space, noise and safety elements.

Chapter 9: Housing Element

The housing element identifies housing needs in the unincorporated areas of the County, and directs the implementation of policies and programs to address those needs. The Housing Element is revised approximately once every five (5) years according to State requirements. The most recent version adopted in December 2004 is bound as a separate document.

Chapter 10: Community Design

This chapter contains policies and implementation for defining and promoting community character, including the urban/rural edge, street and block design, public areas, and neighborhood and commercial district design.

Chapter 11: Economic Development Element

This chapter establishes a consistent set of policies that provide general direction to local government on how the community can focus resources to retain local business, stimulate new firm creation and business expansion within existing and emerging industries, support the tax base, and sustain the ability to provide public services for current and future residents. It will work in tandem with the economic development strategy. Consideration is given within this element to the cumulative effectiveness of the integration of policies central to land use, circulation, and public facilities.

Part 3 - Environmental Resource Management

Part 3 of the Plan focuses on conservation and open space issues, including more detailed policy analysis of several component resource issues.

Chapter 12: Conservation and Open Space Elements

The purpose of this chapter is to provide policy and implementation for two state-mandated elements, the conservation element and the open space element. This chapter addresses issues that are not otherwise addressed in other topical chapters. This chapter also describes the relationship between these elements and other sections of the Plan, and provides for the integration of related components.

The open space element addresses open space for the preservation of natural resources, for the managed production of resources, for outdoor recreation, and for public health and safety. The conservation element addresses the conservation, development, and use of natural resources, including water, forests, soils, rivers, and mineral deposits.

Chapter 13: Water Resources Element

The primary purpose of this element is to ensure that the County’s water resources are sustained and protected. To achieve this purpose, water resource management will be implemented in an integrated manner throughout all jurisdictions in the County. Such implementation will proceed on a sustainable yield and quality protection basis which considers the amount of quality water that can be used over the long term without exceeding the replenishment rates over time or causing long term declines or degradation in available surface water or groundwater resources.

Chapter 14: Biological Resources

This chapter contains policies specific to biological resources, including issues regarding wildlife habitat. A series of Biological Resources maps showing identified sensitive biological resources are produced as part of the Plan.

Chapter 15: Cultural and Scenic Resources

This chapter is presented in two sections: cultural resources and scenic resources. The cultural resources section contains policies regarding cultural heritage, historic, archaeological, paleontological, and architectural resources, and is a component of the Open Space Element. The scenic resources section presents policies regarding scenic resources in the county, including policy options to provide inland scenic resource protection.

Chapter 16: Mineral Resources

This chapter contains provisions for the conservation and protection of minerals. The Mineral Resource Element is a component of the Conservation and Open Space Elements. Energy Production and Conservation issues related to Mineral Resources are addressed in the Energy Element.

Chapter 17: Energy Element

Energy Production and Conservation issues are addressed in the Energy Element. Energy resources in Humboldt County include oil and gas, hydropower, wind, biomass and solar energy. Conservation is also viewed as an energy resource, and is considered in context in the Housing and Circulation elements of this Plan. Policies regarding the development of existing and potential energy resources have been designed to mitigate impacts and allow communities to enjoy the benefits of such development.

Chapter 18: Waste Management

This chapter describes the policies and programs for the disposal, handling, recycling, and reduction of wastes.

Chapter 19: Air Quality

The purpose of this chapter is to describe the existing air quality, the sources of air pollution, and recommended strategies for improving air quality, including strategies affecting the density and location of land uses, the transportation and circulation system, and community design.

Part 4 - Public Health and Safety

Part 4 of the Plan address policy issues pertaining to Noise and Safety, two of the mandatory elements, and more closely considers of the topic of Airport Safety in Chapter 22.

Chapter 20: Noise Element

The Noise Element is one of the seven required General Plan Elements. The Noise Element is required to identify and appraise noise following the guidelines adopted by the Office of Noise Control in the State Department of Health Services. Noise levels are to be considered in establishing patterns of land uses that minimizes the exposure of community residents to excessive noise.

Chapter 21: Safety Element

The purpose of the Safety Element is to reduce the potential risk of death, injuries, property damage, and economic and social dislocation resulting from earthquake, fire, flood, and other hazards. The components of this Element include:

  • Geologic/Seismic Hazards
  • Flooding and Drainage
  • Fire
  • Airport Safety
  • Industrial Hazards
  • Emergency Management

This Element identifies hazards and hazard abatement provisions to guide local decisions related to zoning, subdivisions, and entitlement permits. Hazard and risk reduction policies supporting hazard implementation measures are contained in this Element.

Airport Safety (Previously Ch. 22)

This section provides policies and implementation to protect the community from risk associated with airports.

Part 5 - Impacts and Implementation

Part 4 of the Plan address policy issues pertaining to Noise and Safety, two of the mandatory elements, and more closely considers of the topic of Airport Safety in Chapter 22.

Chapter 23: Implementation Plan Summary

This chapter outlines the specifics of how the Implementation Measures contained in individual elements will be carried out to implement the Plan.

Chapter 24: Environmental Impact Report (EIR) Analysis

The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) analysis document is separate from the General Plan. Preliminary CEQA analysis will be included into the initial Hearing Draft chapters for each element.

The draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) addresses adoption of a General Plan for the County of Humboldt. The adopted plan would replace the existing 1984 General Plan, except for the Housing Element which was updated on December, 2003.

The purposes of the EIR are to:

  • inform agencies and the public of significant environmental effects associated with the proposed program
  • identify ways to minimize significant effects of the program
  • describe reasonable alternatives to the program that would avoid or reduce the program’s significant effects (State CEQA Guidelines Section 15121[a])

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that all state and local government agencies consider the environmental consequences of programs and projects over which they exercise discretionary authority before taking action on them.

The Draft EIR, comments and responses will be presented in total to the County Board of Supervisors for consideration as they review the proposed General Plan. Prior to approval of this or any version of the General Plan, the Board of Supervisors must certify that an EIR (complete with comments and responses) adequately addresses the General Plan's potential environmental impacts in compliance with CEQA.

The public, along with local, regional, state and federal agencies, are invited to review the Draft EIR and to provide comments. Comments should be directed to the County of Humboldt Department of Community Development Services, 3015 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501. Comments received during the review period will elicit a formal written response in a subsequent document (Response to Comments) which will also be available for public review.

Part 6 - Appendices

Appendix A: Glossary and Definitions

Appendix A contains statutory definitions as needed and defines terms and acronyms used in the General Plan.

Appendix B: Index

Appendix B is a keyword index to the General Plan.

Appendix C: Community Area Plans

Appendix C contains zoning and planning maps and community-specific policies.

Companion Documents

Companion documents to the General Plan include:

Airports Master Plan

Provides guidance for County airport improvements and land use decisions in the vicinity of County airports

Capital Improvement Plan

In conjunction with the Infrastructure and Community Facilities Element, directs financing and construction of public infrastructure and community facilities

Coastal Plans

Land use plans for the Coastal Zone certified by the California Coastal Commission

2003 Housing Element Technical Background Study 2002-2008

Part of the Housing Element that provides technical background information and identifies on-going housing goals, policies and programs

Fire Plan

Acknowledges those delivering essential fire services, identifies their needs for delivery of services, and guides the maintenance and improvement of the services delivered

Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) Energy Element Final Draft (October 2005)

Guides the development of the Energy Element of the General Plan

Redwood Coast Energy Authority( RCEA) Energy Element Technical Report (October 2005)

Provides technical background information for the Energy Element

Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

Discloses the environmental impacts of the new General Plan and identifies mitigation measures to reduce the adverse environmental impacts