Michael G. Harris, Pleasant Hill Mayor

Resident participation needed in Pleasant Hill’s general plan update

Michael G. Harris, Pleasant Hill MayorPLEASANT HILL, CA (Mar. 18, 2022) — Just as our country cannot function without a constitution, cities cannot function without a General Plan (GP).

Just like the constitution, which is updated with amendments, the GP is updated on a regular basis so it continues to express the mission and goals of our residents. Unlike the Constitution, the GP requires input from all members of our community.

The GP is local government’s long-term framework for future growth and development. It represents the community’s view of its future and expresses community goals. It contains the aspirations and polices upon which the Pleasant Hill City Council and Planning Commission will base land-use decisions. Typically, a GP is designed to address the issues facing the city for the next 20 years.

The GP is made up of a collection of “elements,” or topic categories. The state currently requires nine elements: land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, noise, safety, environmental justice and air quality. Communities may include other elements that address local concerns, such as economic development, community character and urban design.

Pleasant Hill adopted its current General Plan in 2003. I chaired that GP committee. While the existing GP is serving the community well, the city has initiated an update to refine the plan, address emerging trends and changes to state law, consider new issues and remove completed measures. The city intends this effort to result in a community-driven plan based on the desire of the residents for the next 20 years.

We started the General Plan update in 2019, with progress occurring throughout the year. While the pandemic delayed some progress, work continued – including updating the GP Housing Element in spring 2021.

The state requires every jurisdiction to include a Housing Element as part of the General Plan. Unlike other mandatory GP elements, the Housing Element must be updated every eight years and is subject to review and approval by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Major components of the Housing Element include a housing needs assessment, the identification of sites for housing at all income levels, a review of constraints to housing, and updated policies and programs to carry out the goals of the updated element. The Housing Element is a coordinated and comprehensive city strategy for supporting safe, decent and affordable housing in the community.

In early 2021, the Association of Bay Area Governments provided the city with a draft Regional Housing Needs Allocation, which determines the number of housing units for which the city must designate appropriately zoned land. The city must demonstrate that there is sufficient land available to accommodate the housing need.

To get broad public input, the city has hosted a Housing Element Workshop, an interactive webinar, and multiple General Plan Advisory Committee meetings to provide information and clarity on this complex issue.

The next steps are to finalize a preferred land use alternative that includes potential housing sites to satisfy requirements of the Housing Element and to complete all GP draft elements.

We want your involvement in this process. To find out more about the General Plan update and be part of the conversation, please visit www.pleasanthill2040.com.

Email questions and comments for Mayor Harris to mharris4ph@gmail.com