Updating Escondido's General Plan will establish the city's "blueprint" for many decisions over the next 20-50 years and involve extensive community input and numerous technical studies. Public input is needed on a variety of issues including Escondido's ultimate build-out and boundaries, how specific areas should develop, how Escondido should look and feel, what public service standards should be planned for, how to increase the use of transit, desired housing opportunities, and other important factors.
The following considerations are proposed for public review and comment as an opportunity for the community to provide initial input on the direction and scope of the General Plan Update. These considerations will provide city staff the basis to prepare further studies and evaluate alternatives. The community is encouraged to comment on these considerations, which will be shared with decision-makers and referenced throughout the General Plan Update process.
General Plan Update Considerations:
1. Whether Escondido's updated General Plan should provide for no more than SANDAG's Fair Share allocation of Regional Population Growth
Preliminary estimates reveal that the San Diego Region will be expected to accommodate an additional 1 million residents over the next 40 years according to SANDAG, San Diego County's regional planning agency. Escondido, like other communities, will be called upon to accept its share of the anticipated growth. Citizen input is sought to guide the location and manner of planned growth.
2. The nature and extent that the majority of Escondido's future population and housing growth should occur in Downtown and Smart Growth Areas
Smart Growth is a planning doctrine that advocates compact, transit-oriented land use and the concentration of growth in the city's core. It encourages communities to take the wide view and prioritize long-term regional sustainability over short-term interests in order to prevent inefficient urban sprawl. Smart Growth focuses investment into areas where people live today by improving roads, sewers, and services in existing developed areas, rather than constructing new developments in outlying areas. Escondido has several identified Smart Growth areas and the main elements of Smart Growth are:
a) Compact, Pedestrian- and Bicycle-Friendly Neighborhoods
b) Transit-Oriented Development
c) Preserving Open Space
d) Improving Existing Communities
3. Whether the General Plan's Planning Area Boundary should be expanded or contracted
The Escondido Planning Area contains approximately 80 square miles. The territory includes the City's corporate boundaries and areas beyond. Expanding or contracting the General Plan boundary will depend upon whether the community and City Council determines certain areas are geographically associated with Escondido. While the City Council has authority regarding decisions made within Escondido's city limits, unincorporated areas outside the city limits in Escondido's Planning Area are the responsibility of the County. The city frequently comments on land use proposals that occur in the unincorporated territory of Escondido's Planning Area, but land use decisions are guided by the County Board of Supervisors unless and until the area annexes to Escondido.
4. Whether the General Plan Update should include expansions or contractions of the currently adopted Sphere of Influence Area
Escondido's Sphere of Influence is a plan identifying the ultimate physical boundaries of the community and is approved by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), a state agency established to discourage urban sprawl and encourage the orderly formation and development of communities. LAFCO oversees changes to Sphere of Influence based on a community's desire to modify its ultimate boundaries. Territory must be within a city's Sphere of Influence in order for it to be annexed.
5. The extent and degree to which the General Plan Update should encourage sustainable practices and standards
Growth and change will continue over the next several decades, and Escondido can make positive contributions toward preparing for that change by incorporating a broad-based strategy in the General Plan aimed at improving energy efficiency, conserving natural resources and promoting sustainable design. In order to ensure that Escondido's Quality of Life is maintained, and to address recent legislation, actions must be taken to curb greenhouse gasses and reduce the community's carbon footprint.
6. Whether the General Plan Update should involve major changes to locations or amounts of commercial / industrial territory
During the course of the General Plan update there may be requests to evaluate changes to individual properties. Any such request would require separate City Council initiation and be ultimately subject to voter approval.
7. The nature and extent of changes to the existing General Plan Community Goals and Objectives
Several workshops were held during the General Plan's initial formation that included extensive community input. The City Council fully supports the need to involve residents and business owners on goals that directly affect the community. Although some fine tuning of the Community Goals and Objectives may be warranted to include recent legislation and Smart Growth principles, initial community feedback has not generated interest in a complete revision.
8. The appropriateness of updating General Plan Quality of Life Standard thresholds
The Quality of Life Standards provide minimum thresholds of service levels for various characteristics, public improvements and facilities. Since the General Plan was last updated changes have occurred that may necessitate consideration in amending the standard.