Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS A GENERAL PLAN?
The General Plan defines the vision for what our City will look like in 2050, and a roadmap to get us there! The General Plan establishes long-term goals and policies to guide a community in realizing a its vision for the future. The State of California requires each city to adopt a comprehensive, long-term general plan for the physical development of a community and provides a list of topics that must be addressed. Local decision makers use the goals and policies of a general plan to make decisions regarding land use, economic development, housing, mobility, infrastructure, open spaces, recreation, safety, and environmental justice and health.
WHY UPDATE THE GENERAL PLAN?
Considerable time has passed since the last comprehensive update of the City of San Bernardino’s General Plan in 2005. There are important challenges, opportunities, and emerging trends that need to be addressed to enable the General Plan to be an effective tool in guiding and ensuring that the future conforms to the visions and aspirations of San Bernardino’s residents. The population has grown; lands have been developed, others have been conserved; and the composition, needs, and visions of San Bernardino’s residents have evolved. Wider national and global changes also affect the City—the economy has fluctuated, housing costs have escalated, traffic has worsened, our climate is warming, and technological changes affect how we live and do business. The State has also enacted legislation that more aggressively directs cities to address these and other changes. It’s time for a community conversation about how we grow and where we’ll go!
WHO WILL USE THE GENERAL PLAN?
City Council and Planning Commission use the goals and policies of the General Plan as a basis upon which to make both long-term and short-term decisions, determine long-term objectives, generate and evaluate budgets, plan capital improvements, and prioritize tasks.
City staff reference the General Plan when considering development applications, capital improvements, service programming, and departmental budgeting.
Individual residents, existing and prospective business owners, and the development community seek guidance for understanding and commitments for what will be preserved, enhanced, and changed in the near and long terms.
Other local and regional agencies refer to the General Plan when projecting future needs and services. The General Plan is truly the City’s collective guide to the future.
HOW WILL THE GENERAL PLAN BE IMPLEMENTED?
The updated General Plan will be implemented by short- and long–term actions and programs that carry out its visions, goals, and policies. These provide an important foundation for the City’s annual budgeting and strategic planning processes. Importantly, future development entitlements, capital improvements, and other programs related to the City’s physical development must be consistent with the General Plan.
WHAT IS A SPECIFIC PLAN?
A Specific Plan systematically implements the general plan in a defined area within a city. They provide an additional layer of planning control and detailed standards that may supplement and differ from the underlying zoning regulations. On adoption, statutory provisions allow streamlined processing for projects consistent with a specific plan for which an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) or Supplemental EIR has been prepared.
HOW DOES THE DOWNTOWN SPECIFIC PLAN RELATE TO THE SELECTION OF A MASTER DEVELOPER FOR THE CAROUSEL MALL?
The City and consultant team will be leading the preparation of the Downtown Specific Plan. The 43-acre Carousel Mall is one part of the 600-acre Downtown Specific Plan area. The future development of the mall property will be a catalyst for the overall revitalization of the Downtown. Planning for the mall property will be done concurrently with planning of the larger Downtown area. The two areas are intertwined.
A Master Developer has been selected by the City Council for the development of the Carousel Mall. Renaissance Downtowns USA and ICO Real Estate Group will be engaged in the Downtown Specific Plan process. However, the developer will be also be preparing a much more detailed set of plans for development of the Carousel Mall. Their proposed development will need to comply with the standards and requirements of the Downtown Specific Plan. The developer’s application package to initiate development is expected to follow soon after the adoption of the larger Downtown Specific Plan.
Downtown Specific Plan area
HOW WILL THE MASTER DEVELOPER BE INVOLVED IN THE PUBLIC OUTREACH PROCESS FOR THE DOWNTOWN SPECIFIC PLAN?
During the preparation of the Downtown Specific Plan, there will many opportunities for the community to provide input through surveys, public workshops, and other events. The Master Developer will also participate in these outreach efforts in order to listen to the community about the Carousel Mall property. The Master Developer is expected to conduct additional outreach activities in order to focus more on the details associated with their project. These separate activities will be coordinated with the overall schedule of outreach for the Downtown Specific Plan and General Plan so that no overlaps occur and feedback is shared between the Master Developer, the City, and the consultant team.
ARE THERE ANY EXISTING SPECIFIC PLANS IN SAN BERNARDINO?
Yes. There are seven existing Specific Plans within the City:
WHAT IS THE DEVELOPMENT CODE?
The Development Code, also known as the Zoning Code, regulates the use of land within the City and must be consistent with a general plan. The Development Code controls the ways in which any given land can be developed and what purposes that land can serve. Through careful planning, the Development Code keeps a residential area residential, or creates new opportunities by turning a previously designated industrial area into a commercial district. Not only does it dictate the use of the land it also dictates the types of properties that co-exist in a particular area within a given municipality.
WHY DOES THE DEVELOPMENT CODE NEED TO BE UPDATED?
Although most of the new development code will not change existing standards or requirements, it is important to do a complete analysis and update where necessary to ensure the goals and policies of the General Plan Update are achieved. The development code update will serve as a tool to develop specialized zoning to allow unique land uses or expand design flexibility, and in doing so it ensures consistency across planning documents.
WHAT IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW?
An Environmental Impact Review or (EIR) is a state mandated document under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) designed to institute a statewide policy of environmental protection. An EIR helps determine potential impacts and mitigation, and alternatives to a project that would not cause those significant impacts or would have lesser impacts than the proposed project.
WHY SHOULD I PARTICIPATE?
Public participation is a vital part of the planning process! Your participation ensures that planning documents reflect the priorities and interest of community residents. Your input and ideas are extremely valuable and help create an open dialogue between City staff, community stakeholders, and the community at large. Having robust community participation strengthens planning efforts’ success and ability to become a living document that is both practical and accessible by all who live and work in the City.
HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE?
There will be several opportunities to get involved throughout the entirety of the planning process: through surveys, community meetings, stakeholder meetings, and other forums. The best way to get involved and stay up to date on any upcoming and or past meetings, will be to join the mailing list and visit the project website often; here you will find any relevant information pertaining to the project and will have to the opportunity to submit comments or get in contact with the project team. If you’re on social media, consider following the City’s social media accounts as well!