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Recent News

Summer 2023: The Environmental Justice Background Report is available for review. This report describes how the Environmental Justice Communities are identified and provides background context on what will inform EJ policy creation.  The report will be shared with the Planning Commission on August 8th at 7 PM at the regularly scheduled Planning Commission meeting. 

Fall 2022: Draft Map identifying City EJ communities is available for review and comment (click this link). Draft preliminary analyses show what areas within the City may be experiencing disproportionate pollution burden, based on the State guidance found here. Staff will incorporate localized data (such as park space or grocery store locations) over the next few months to determine where areas may be experiencing specific EJ issues. To provide input on the below draft map, or this process, please click here

August 2022: City staff will be conducting At-Large Community Workshops for the 2022 GPA work effort to hear from the Escondido community, and to provide more information on the 2022 GPA process. Please join us at one, or both, of the below meetings. These meetings are open to all who live, work, and/or play in Escondido. 

  • Sunday, August 7th, from 1:00 - 2:30 PM at the East Valley Community Center in the Citrus Room
  • Thursday, August 11th, from 6:30 - 8:00 PM at the Escondido Public Library in the Turrentine Room

July 2022: City staff presented to the Community Alliance for Escondido (CAFE) to provide an overview and update on the 2022 GPA. The presentation slides and feedback from the 19 CAFE members presented to can be found here: July 15, 2022 CAFE Meeting

May 2022: City staff conducted outreach to roughly 80 San Pasqual High School (SPHS) students in Human Geography and Government classes. Staff provided an overview of what a general plan is, and what the 2022 GPA entails. Students then provided input through a dot-activity. Students were provided with 3 green dot stickers and could either place one under each of the most important topics to them, or place all three under one topic to emphasize its importance. Overall, SPHS students find reducing pollution burdens (such as air, water, and soil), promoting food access and promoting physical activity as their top 3 most important environmental justice topics. 

April 2022: City staff conducted Organized Stakeholder Roundtable Meetings on April 15th and April 20th (refer to page 18 of the draft plan). The presentation slides and feedback from the attendees can be found below:

  • April 15, 2022: Attendees of this session include representatives from the following organizations - California Center for the Arts, Healthy Escondido Coalition, San Diego Coastkeeper, Community Advisory Group of Climate Actions and Environmental Impacts, North County Transit District (NCTD) 
  • April 20, 2022: Attendees of this session include representatives from the following organizations - Chamber of Citizens, San Diego Building Industry Association, Greater Escondido Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Club North County Group, Escondido Clergy Association and Escondido Together, Neighborhood Healthcare, North County Inland Abuse Substance Program, Universidad Popular, San Diego Air Pollution Control District, and independent community organizer. 

February 22, 2022: Planning Commission Request for Feedback on the DRAFT Community Outreach and Engagement Plan 

December 14, 2021: Planning Commission Kickoff Meeting


The City of Escondido is conducting an update to the Safety Element, also known as the Community Protection Chapter, of the City's General Plan. The update is required pursuant to Government Code Section ("GC §") 65302(g), and must address topics including, but not limited to, fire hazards, climate adaptation and resiliency, and evacuation routes.

In addition to the Community Protection Chapter update, the City is undertaking the creation of an environmental justice element. The environmental justice element will include environmental justice goals, policies, and objectives, and identify environmental justice communities within the City. The purpose of the environmental justice element is to ensure everyone enjoys the same level of protection from environmental and health hazards, and have equal access to the decision making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, work, and exist within.

Why is the City updating the Community Protection Chapter?

In 2020, the City of Escondido began updating the Housing Element of the City's General Plan as part of the Housing and Community Investment Study (HCIS) work program. The Housing Element update is still in progress, with City staff working to address outstanding comments received from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on August 10, 2021. As a result of the housing element update process, the City must update their Community Protection Chapter. Specifically, a jurisdiction must update their safety element upon the next revision of their housing element on or after January 1, 2020 (GC § 65302(g)(5)). 

Why is the City creating a new environmental justice element?

Similar to how state legislation requires a safety element to be updated as a result of a housing element update on or after January 1, 2020, the City is responsible for adopting an environmental justice element upon the adoption or next revision of two or more elements concurrently on or after January 1, 2018 (GC § 65302(h)(2)). In this case, updates to the City's Housing and Safety Elements are currently required and will occur concurrently--thus triggering the need to create an environmental justice element.

The City will continue the update to the Housing Element, begin the update to the Community Protection Chapter of the City's General Plan, and create an environmental justice element as a concurrent work effort. 

Where is the City in this process? 

Currently, staff is conducting community outreach and engagement. Below is a general overview of the tentative timeline for this concurrent work effort. For more information on the timeline below, please contact Veronica Morones via email at or via phone at (760) 839-4548. 


























Community Outreach & Engagement

Escondido is dedicated to creating a sustainable and livable community for all. To move us closer to this goal, citywide policy documents must be updated to address new topics as they arise, and to ensure consistency with state statute and timeframes. City staff is currently working on a first draft of a community outreach and engagement plan (draft plan) for the concurrent work effort. Since the draft housing element is further along in process than the update to the Community Protection Chapter and new environmental justice element, the draft plan will primarily focus on outreach and engagement surrounding the Community Protection Chapter and environmental justice element. 

While City staff created the initial version of the draft plan, staff aims for the draft plan to be a living document that grows and changes based on community feedback, interaction, insights, knowledge, and recommendations. Ultimately, the goal of the draft plan is to facilitate deep public participation, particularly by communities commonly excluded from the planning process--such as environmental justice communities, youth and seniors, persons with disabilities, persons experiencing homelessness, low income communities, and communities of color. The draft plan seeks to involve, collaborate, and whenever possible, defer to community members and residents.  

The translated draft plan is formatted differently due to length of the Spanish translation; all content is the same as the English draft plan. 

Housing Element Update

Information regarding the 6th cycle Housing Element update for the 2021-2029 planning period can be found at the City's Housing and Community Investment Study webpage.

Who do I contact if I have questions or want to get involved in this process?

For any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas, please contact Veronica Morones via email at or via phone at (760) 839-4548. (return to top)



Key Terms & Additional Resources

What is a general plan?
  • A general plan is the City's blueprint for meeting the community’s long-term vision for the future. A general plan is made up of text describing goals and objectives, principles, standards, and plan proposals, as well as a set of maps and diagrams. (return to top) 

Introduction to General Plans | Why General Plans Matter | General Plan Terms and Definitions | The City of Escondido's General Plan

What is a safety element? What is a housing element?
  • The term “element” refers to the topics that California law requires to be covered in a general plan (GC § 65302). A city's safety element establishes policies and programs to protect the community from risks associated with seismic, geologic, flood, and wildfire hazards, as well as from other concerns such as drought. A city's housing element assesses current and projected housing needs for all economic segments of the community. In addition, the housing element embodies policies for providing adequate housing and includes action programs for that purpose. By statute, the housing element must be updated every eight years. (return to top) 

Required Elements within a General Plan | Fire Hazard Planning Technical Advisory Housing Elements - HCD | City of Escondido's Housing and Community Investment Study

What is environmental justice (EJ)?
  • The State defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of people of all races, cultures, incomes, and national origins with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies” (GC §65040.12(e)). Environmental justice includes, but is not limited to, all of the following:
    • The availability of a healthy environment for all people.
    • The deterrence, reduction, and elimination of pollution burdens for populations and communities experiencing the adverse effects of that pollution, so that the effects of the pollution are not disproportionately borne by those populations and communities.
    • Governmental entities engaging and providing technical assistance to populations and communities most impacted by pollution to promote their meaningful participation in all phases of the environmental and land use decision making process.
    • At a minimum, the meaningful consideration of recommendations from populations and communities most impacted by pollution into environmental and land use decisions. (return to top)
What are environmental justice communities?
  • Long before the term “environmental justice” was coined, communities across California experienced discrimination through unjust land use policies and practices. Examples of such discrimination range from Spanish colonizers institutionalizing the Mission system and intentionally disrupting tribal culture and environmental stewardship, to the practice of redlining in cities during the 20th century, to farmworker exposure of dangerous pesticides in the 1960s (pp. 1-2, OPR, June 2020).  
  • Specifically, the State refers to environmental justice communities as "disadvantaged communities" and defines them as:
    • " area identified by the California Environmental Protection Agency Pursuant to Section 39711 of the Health and Safety Code or an area that is a low-income area that is disproportionately affected by environmental pollution and other hazards that can lead to negative health effects, exposure, or environmental degradation” (GC § 65302(h)(4)(A)).
  • Environmental Justice (EJ) communities within the City have not yet been identified. City staff will work to preliminarily identify communities that may be EJ communities based on their environmental and health hazards, incomes, and climate vulnerability. Once the City's preliminary EJ communities are identified, public input will help finalize where these communities are within the City. 
  • The EJ element will prioritize goals for our EJ communities in an effort to achieve environmental justice. (return to top)

Environmental Justice Guidelines | State Attorney General's SB1000 Webpage | Senate Bill 1000 | CalEnviroScreen 4.0 | CALEJA SB1000 Tool Kit

Electronic Public Comment Form

The City welcomes any feedback, suggestions, ideas, or concerns regarding the Community Protection Chapter Update and creation of an environmental justice element. Please fill out the form below and it will be directed to Veronica Morones, the project planner. (return to top)