Last week, the Kern County Planning Department launched the county’s General Plan Update effort, a process that is expected to take two years to complete. General plans help determine how a county will grow and how land will be used, but there will be a new wrinkle this time around.
A new law passed by the California Legislature will make general plans different from the past-and more environmentally friendly.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 1000 on Sept. 24, establishing new requirements for counties to incorporate environmental justice in their general plan. The aim is to help ensure environmental equity for disadvantaged communities. Kern will be the first California county to implement an environmental justice element in the land-use portion of the county’s plan.
During the kick-off, county officials agreed to dedicate its second hearing solely to discuss the general plan. The series of hearings are scheduled over the first six months of 2017. They also said they will look into holding several workshops in remote areas so that rural communities will have an opportunity to weigh in.
The current general plan was adopted in June of 2004, and the plans usually are in place for 15-25 years.
The State of California requires counties to include seven mandatory elements in their general plan including land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, noise and a safety element.
Several members of Building Healthy Communities, South Kern’s Environment Action Team, asked the planning commissioners to consider providing reports early enough for residents to review the reports before they provide comments during public hearings.
Building Healthy Communities South Kern’s Environment Action Team is working with residents to help ensure that the plan includes investment in parks, affordable housing and addresses infrastructure needs.
To learn more about this effort please call the Center of Race Poverty and Environment at (661) 720-9140 or Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability at (661) 843-7677.

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