Why is a general plan important?

The General Plan is our 'constitution' for planning and growth.

General Plan Update

The General Plan outlines the goals for physical growth, conservation, and community life in Soledad, and contains the policies and actions necessary to achieve those goals. City staff members use the General Plan to guide decisions about zoning, permitted development, provision of public services, and transportation improvements. Soledad’s current General Plan was adopted in 2005 and reflects the data, attitudes, and assumptions of that time. However, as the Salinas Valley and Soledad have changed over the past 18 years, conditions have evolved, and the General Plan needs to evolve as well. The updated General Plan will help the diverse Soledad community create and achieve a shared and aspirational vision for future preservation, growth, and change that is environmentally, economically, and equitably feasible and sustainable.

Typically, a General Plan begins with a Vision Statement and then establishes specific goals and policies related to a range of civic issues.  These issues are organized into a series of topic-specific “Elements” or chapters of the General Plan. State law requires General Plans to address the following broad topics: land use, open space, circulation, housing, conservation, safety, noise, and environmental justice.  These topics can be combined or presented in any order that best fits the community. Additional Elements can be added to the General Plan depending on local needs and goals and Elements can be combined with one another. Incorporated cities or towns are required to adopt their own General Plans. 

Current General Plan

The current General Plan addresses all State-required Elements, except for environmental justice, and includes three additional Elements — parks and recreation, public services and facilities, and economic development — for a total of nine Elements. As part of the update process some Elements may be combined.

  • Land Use. The Land Use Element establishes a comprehensive set of explicit goals, policies, and implementation programs to guide the future use and development of land in Soledad. It determines the locations within the city and its planning area where residential, commercial, industrial, public, and open space land uses may occur at present and in the future. This Element also works with the other parts of the plan to determine the location, rate, and timing of new growth and development.
  • Housing. The Housing Element provides a strategy that establishes housing goals, policies, and programs intended to give direction to meet current and future housing needs of the city, both in terms of preservation of existing housing stock and in establishing priorities for new construction. Note: As required by State law, the Housing Element will be updated on a faster schedule than the rest of the General Plan.
  • Circulation (Transportation). The Circulation Element describes how the transportation needs of the city will be met during the time frame of the General Plan. The Circulation Element identifies where new roadways will be constructed to support the land uses contained in the Land Use Element, and also contains provisions for the use of alternate modes of transportation, including bicycle and pedestrian circulation, and transit.
  • Conservation and Open Space. The Conservation and Open Space Elements are two separate Elements required by State law but are often combined as one. These Elements describe the diverse natural and human-made resources in and around Soledad and how these resources will be preserved and protected during the time frame of the General Plan.
  • Safety. The Safety Element identifies different seismic, geologic, flood, and fire hazards in Soledad and discusses how these hazards can be minimized.
  • Noise. The Noise Element establishes policies and standards to protect residents from exposure to excessive noise. This is done by analyzing the existing and projected noise environment in Soledad and then determining land use compatibility guidelines for various noise levels.
  • Parks and Recreation. The Parks and Recreation Element provides policies and standards for the development of additional parks and the expansion of recreation programs to meet the needs of Soledad residents.
  • Public Services and Facilities. The Public Services and Facilities Element summarizes the infrastructure and public facilities needs of the city through buildout of the General Plan.
  • Economic Development. The Economic Development Element includes a generalized discussion of expected costs of operating the city in the future and potential revenue sources likely to be available to cover those costs. Among other purposes, this Element will assist the City in determining whether new development should be subject to different fees than those currently in place to better cover the costs of growth in the community.

Environmental Review

California law requires the City to conduct a thorough analysis of the potential environmental impacts of the updated General Plan to ensure that future development and policy changes do not negatively affect our community. This component involves the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to identify potential environmental impacts and measures we can take to reduce or avoid them. A program EIR that analyzes the environmental impacts of the General Plan Update and the implementation measures will be used for this project.

Housing Element Update

The Housing Element is one of the required Elements of the General Plan. It will identify policy direction to meet the housing needs of the city, both by preserving existing homes and by clarifying priorities for housing creation. The Element will include an overview of housing policies and programs and will identify locations that can accommodate future housing. The Housing Element will be reviewed by the State Department of Housing and Community Development. Due to State-required adoption deadlines, the Housing Element will be prepared on a separate but parallel track to the General Plan.