General Plan Home
Public Comment

General Plan Update

In the summer of 2003, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved a work program to prepare an update of the County’s General Plan.  This update program, scheduled to conclude in the Fall of 2005, will provide many opportunities for public input in the shaping of the final plan.  

What is a General Plan?

Every county and city in California is required by state law to prepare and maintain a planning document called a General Plan.  A General Plan is designed to serve as the jurisdiction’s “constitution” or “blueprint” for future decisions concerning land use and resource conservation.  Decision makers in the County will use the General Plan to provide direction when making future land use and public service decisions.  All community plans, specific plans, subdivisions, public works projects, and zoning decisions must be consistent with the County’s General Plan.

The Tulare County General Plan update will serve several purposes:

  • Provide the public opportunities for meaningful participation in the planning and decision-making process

  • Provide a description of current conditions and trends impacting the County

  • Identify planning issues, opportunities, and challenges that should be addressed in the General Plan

  • Explore land use and policy alternatives

  • Ensure that the General Plan is current, internally consistent, and easy to use

  • Provide guidance in the planning and evaluation of future land and resource decisions

  • Provide a vision for the future of Tulare County

A General Plan typically has three defining features:

General.  As the name implies, a General Plan provides general guidance that will be used to direct future land use and resource decisions.

Comprehensive.  A General Plan covers a wide range of social, economic, infrastructure, and natural resource factors.  These include land use, housing, circulation, utilities, public services, recreation, agriculture, biological resources, and many other topics.

Long-Range.  General plans provide guidance on reaching a future envisioned 20 or more years in the future.  To reach this envisioned future, the General Plan will include policies and actions that address both immediate and long-term needs.

General Plan EIR

The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) prepared for the General Plan will meet the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will use the EIR during their consideration of the draft General Plan to understand the potential environmental implications associated with the Plan.

What is Covered in the General Plan?

The Tulare County General Plan will be organized into the following seven topic areas, called “elements.”

Land Use and Urban Boundaries.  This element will cover issues including land use types, distribution, and intensity; population and building density; existing specific plans; public land ownership; and provide a land use diagram.  This element will focus on the future growth and physical development of the County.

Scenic Landscapes.  This element will address the location and qualities of the townscapes of unincorporated communities, the working landscape (e.g., agricultural areas), and the natural landscapes through policy and concept diagrams. This element will also contain policies concerning the enhancement of Highways 99, 190, and 198.

Circulation.  The Circulation Element will include a description of the roadway circulation system needed to meet the future needs of the community based on the preferred alternative and modeled future projections. The element will also address other aspects of the circulation/transportation system, including bicycles, pedestrians, and mass transit.

Public Facilities and Services.  This element will address public facilities and services, including water availability and service; wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal; storm drainage and flood protection; schools; general government services; fire protection; law enforcement; solid and hazardous waste disposal; utilities (gas, electric); and public facility and service finance.

Safety.  This element will address a number of public safety issues, including seismic and geologic hazards (e.g., landslides), flooding hazards, wildland fire hazards, aircraft crash hazards, hazardous wastes, and emergency response. Safety overlaps with other mandated elements such as land use, conservation and open space. The update will provide that this element is consistent with the discussion in the other elements.

Environmental Resource Management.  This element will address the conservation, development, and use of natural resources and will also deal with plans and measures for preserving open space and enhancing outdoor recreational opportunities (e.g., parkland). It will explore the managed production of resources, agriculture, archaeological resources, cultural and historic resources, significant buildings and sites, mineral resources, water resources (groundwater, rivers, creeks, wetlands), and biological resources (flora, fauna, habitat, and endangered or threatened species). The agricultural resources section of the element will evaluate the County's farmland preservation programs and Williamson Act policies. This element will also address outdoor recreation and air quality issues. The identification of appropriate goals, objectives, and policies that define County vision will be the focus of this element.

Noise.  The noise element will address all types of noise, including transportation-related noise (roadway, rail, and air) and industrial and commercial noise sources. This element will identify standards for acceptable noise levels, provide a list of land uses that should be considered as noise sensitive receptors, and identify noise problems within the County. This element will also discuss land use compatibility, construction noise impacts, and design solutions.

Area Plans.  During the preparation of the Goals and Policies Report, the General Plan consultants will also review the existing Areas Plans (Rural Valley Lands Plan, Foothill Growth Management Plan, and mountain and corridor plans).

Other Plans 

Housing Element.  As part of a General Plan, the State also requires counties and cities to maintain a Housing Element.  The County's Housing Element was recently updated, and will not be revised as part of the General Plan 2025 process.

Community Plans.  While these plans will not be modified during the General Plan process, they will be reviewed for consistency with the General Plan once adopted and revisions necessary to maintain consistency will be identified.

Zoning.  A zoning ordinance is the primary tool used by jurisdictions to implement their General Plan.  Following completion and adoption of the General Plan, the County's Zoning Ordinance and Development Code will need to be reviewed and revised to insure that it adequately implements the newly revised plan.  The County's General Plan consultants will review the existing Zoning Ordinance and Development Code text for consistency with the newly adopted General Plan and will identify the revisions necessary to maintain consistency.


General Plan Consultants 

To help prepare a comprehensive General Plan update, Tulare County hired a consulting team led by Mintier & Associates and URS.  The team dedicated to updating the General Plan includes expertise in general plan updates, planning and land use law, housing, transportation, infrastructure, environmental resources, economic development and fiscal assessment, and project management.

The firms making up the consulting team are:

Mintier & Associates
     Planning, project management

Matrix Design Group
     Planning, project management

     Environmental analysis

     Urban design and public participation

     Water, wastewater, drainage,

     Economic development

Land Use Associates
     Water supply