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Angel Vazquez

on 21 February 2015

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(land use planning)

land use
open space
historic preservation
public facilities
arts and culture
air quality
healthy communities
What is Planning?
Land Use Planning?
Can Land Use Planning Happen?
do we Plan for
Land Uses?
Who Plans for Land Use?
Where Can Land Use Planning Happen?
is Land Use Planning done?
Planning is the process of organizing information, charting steps, checking back and troubleshooting within a framework of VISION.
The General Plan

Let's explore some basic questions about planning...
A self-explanatory concept...
...basically, how we plan to use
the land under our feet.
We plan for the land because that is where our most valuable and scarce resources exist like places for people to live, open spaces for plants and animals to thrive, water systems to flow, agricultural lands to farm, etc.
Cities and counties typically take the lead. Some federal and state government agencies also engage in the planning process. Investors, real estate developers, property owners and the general public are essential participants of planning.
Planning can happen anywhere
in the world where land is available either for development or for preservation. Planning can also happen along waterways and the ocean.
Planning can happen at any time. The catalyst for this process depends on circumstances related to the economy, the environment and/ or societal issues. Planning can be pro-active or reactive and the process is usually dynamic.
In the United States, it is typically a process that involves policies designed to, above all, protect the public's health, safety and welfare. Land use planning is done with a vision for the future in mind in which various stakeholders are involved.
Land Use planning is also a
process in which decisions are made by one or more interested parties. To do this, those involved should take the following perspectives into consideration:
The environment is considered because
decisions on land use may have impacts on
matters related to ecosystems (plants and
animals) and the places where they thrive.
The economy is taken into consideration because "land" is a commodity (meaning, it can be traded and has monetary value). A decision on land use can shift values up or down and can affect the interests of land owners, investors, local, state and federal government and other people who may not even have ownership over the land.
Land use decision can affect people in many different ways that need to be taken into consideration. Land use planning can affect people's health, culture, way of living, it can provide access and opportunities to basic needs or not.
The General Plan is the legal constitution for land uses and development and in a city or county. It is a document that usually includes maps, graphs, policies, mitigation for potential impacts and recommendations for implementation strategies. In the State of California, at minimum, it must contain 7 elements or chapters.
This element contains the information about where different uses will be located within a city or county such as houses, roads, commercial centers, public facilities like parks or schools, etc. It also includes a discussion about the qualtiy and the design, the look and feel of a community.
The element covers the full range of options where people can live. They range from single family homes to multi-family complexes. It also includes discussion about density (how many people per acre can occupy the space).
The circulation element covers just about everything that has to do with how people and goods move: roads, bike lanes, recreational trails, etc.
The conservation element contains policies designed to focus on the management of natural resources like water, forests, soils, rivers and mineral deposits.
The open space element discusses aspects related to land that typically would serve as recreational uses like parks and ecological preserves and agricultural lands. This element may also include management of historic and cultural resources of significance.
The noise element identifies existing and future impacts of uses that, due to high noise levels, may severely affect people and animals' health and behavior.
The safety element contains policies created to protect people and property from the risks of environmental hazards like floods, earthquakes, wildfire, high winds, etc
California land use law, also allows cities and counties to adopt additional elements that may be of great importance to a particular community. For example:
A historic preservation element may contain provisions to protect significant cultural resources. In California, Native American cultural resources would be included on this section. It can also contain policies that can help guide the protection and restoration of historic buildings and/or sites.
The Public Facilities element contains policies related to the future location and/or operation and maintenance of critical infrastructure such as power lines, bio-solids plants, solar arrays fields, geothermal energy facilities, etc.
The arts and culture element can include polices that foster sense of community, sense of place and/or sense of belonging. Community festivals, public art, opportunities to exercise creativity are some of the topics of discussion found on this chapter.
The air quality element describes policies designed to protect the air we breath from pollution sources.
The healthy communities element would include all aspects related to community design that can ensure people's health. It contains policies that foster individual and physical activity, access to healthy foods and clean water, access to essential opportunities-like education, recreational opportunities and good-paying jobs.
After considering these perspectives, anyone engaged in the land use planning decision-making process should aim at the area where they intersect, giving each of them equal weight. Equity in this context means "fair and just" treatment. Health equity for example, would fall under the three perspectives and it means the protection of people's health through prevention and intervention; and the provision of access to a wide variety of choices, opportunities and basic human needs.
To get a sense of what constitutes planning, let's do a very general exploration of California's Land Use Planning Framework...
This Prezi is part the Land Use Planning Awareness (LUPA) project. LUPA is a community capacity building effort that is designed to empower communities across the eastern Coachella Valley through knowledge about the land use process and system.

LUPA fosters critical thinking, civic dialogue and civic engagement as avenues to influence decision making in land use planning and for the advancement of better and greater health outcomes. Youth engagement is at at the core of this project.

LUPA was launched in 2014 under leadership of the County of Riverside (California) Department of Public Health and funded through the Building Healthy Communities Grant by The California Endowment.
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