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THE COMPREHENSIVE GENERAL PLAN A Comprehensive General Plan defines acceptable land use in California cities, providing a framework to guide development through upcoming decades. It is the point of exchange between community vision and the actual policies that city staff will be implementing when processing applications for construction and development. Zoning and land use maps detail these policies of municipal code, showing allowable uses for any given parcel, and also describe the limitations on the size and shape of the structures that can be used on those parcels. A General Plan is defined by “Elements” in areas such as Land Use, Mobility, Parks, and Housing. Periodic updates respond to growth and changes in the economic, environmental, social conditions and values of the city. Two updates created in Pasadena in 2015 illustrate the process. The Land Use Element is the most complicated and political of the two as it defines the amount and scale of development. Before being approved by Council, an Environmental Impact Report was required to evaluate the potential effects of the scenarios to be adopted. According to Vicrim Chima, a planner with the City of Pasadena,“the 2015 General Plan Update represents one of the most advanced documents of its kind. It includes a sophisticated policy framework to reflect the most

progressive thinking in land use management. Its policies were crafted to address several pieces of state legislation designed to support sustainable development, multi-modal transportation analysis, and affordable housing. While reducing overall development capacity and focusing new development around transit, the plan also concentrates development on South Fair Oaks Avenue. “The Mobility Element Update” Planner Chima continues, “is one of the first to be based on new standards that consider all types of transportation, from the pedestrian, to the cyclist, to the transit user, moving the focus away from just the automobile. These standards work together with the idea that a mix of uses and development near transportation infrastructure, coupled with policies designed to incentivize transit and ride share options, can lower the amount of traffic and pollutants generated from vehicle travel. This could improve overall air quality, noise, and quality of life while still providing the housing and services required by a growing population.” While the plan creates a separated “bicycle track” along under utilized Union Street, the plan has yet to connect to the larger regional network. Pasadena uses a system of planning that includes Specific Plans for various smaller areas of the City. In 2016-17, updates Specific Plans updates based on the adopted Land Use Element will include public input, environmental review, and eventual adoption by the City Council.


The Land Use Element Update August 2015 $x x x The Mobility Element August 2015 $x x x The Housing Element Date $x x NOTE: The 2015 General Plan xUpdate for the Green Space, Recreation & Parks Date $x x x with $380,000 Land Use Element cost $1.3 million being spent on $x x outreach that also Open Space and Conservation Date x included the Mobility Element. The information Noise Element Date $x x x for this chart is not readily available cost for the Safety Element Date $x x and the total x Comprehensive General Plan remains unknown.

A COMPREHENSIVE CHALLENGE As planning has become more sophisticated, it has also become more complicated. For the public it seeks to serve, the land use diagram is too difficult to interpret and for many people, incomprehensible. Taken together, all elements of Pasadena’s Comprehensive General Plan add up to an unknown number of pages. There is no single location where all elements are present, making it nearly impossible to take in the entirety of the Comprehensive General Plan.








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"My City" tells the story of Pasadena’s City Beautiful Movement and the century that followed, exploring how this proven approach can be rev...

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"My City" tells the story of Pasadena’s City Beautiful Movement and the century that followed, exploring how this proven approach can be rev...

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