Land use policies and plans reflect the priorities of local government, constitute the DNA of the built environment, and drive investments and choices having direct impacts on families and communities – sometimes beneficial and sometimes deleterious – occasionally short-term but always long-term. Air toxins hover over some neighborhoods because a land use plan placed residential uses next door to dense industrial uses. School children contend with pesticide drift because the land use plan cites schools adjacent to fields and requires no protections for the schoolchildren. Domestic water and wastewater pipes skirt a community because the city that provides the water and wastewater has chosen not to annex the neighboring community. Affordable housing is only available in one part of the city because the land use plan does not allow dense development in the other three-quarters of town. New towns sprout up and existing towns sprawl– as existing communities persist without basic infrastructure – because the land use plan allows all but unbounded growth in open space. Equitable planning can help existing communities thrive by, for example, providing parks and green spaces for residents.
In partnership with community leaders, we address community-identified priorities such as increased park space, pedestrian safety, protection from industrial pollution and other unhealthy land uses, affordable housing, access to reliable wastewater and drinking water service, and increased access to basic services and amenities. Our General Plan, Specific Plan, Housing Element, Zoning Ordinance, and Sustainable Communities Strategies advocacy promotes planning and investment in existing communities rather than sprawl and new town development, inclusionary housing policies, protection from industrial and other unhealthy land uses, access to basic amenities, improved active travel and transit opportunities, and increased access to parks and recreational areas. In addition to long term planning and land use advocacy, we challenge individual land use and zoning decisions and work with local agencies to seek funding to advance shared land use and planning goals.