General Plan Update

The current Tuolumne County General Plan was adopted in 1996, which set a framework to guide programs, actions, and decisions in the county through 2020. Given the age of the existing General Plan - more than 20 years old – we need to update it to ensure that it reflects the values of our communities today and our aspirations for the future, as well as to comply with changes in State law.

In September 2013, the County initiated a General Plan Update to accomplish those objectives, leading to the December 2015 publication of the Draft General Plan and its associated Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which is required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which evaluates the potential environmental impacts that could result from the implementation of that Draft General Plan. Please see page General Plan 2013-2015 for information about past work on the General Plan. The documents released in 2015, but were not adopted by the Board of Supervisors, can be found here.

During the review phase of the Draft General Plan and EIR in late 2015/early 2016, County residents, business owners, advocates, and other stakeholders submitted numerous comments on the draft documents, many of which were critical of the draft policies and the overall approach to the General Plan.

The comment period ended in February 2016, at which point the Board of Supervisors placed the General Plan Update on hold. Since then, the Board of Supervisors formed a General Plan Ad Hoc Committee comprised of two Supervisors and various County staff to supervise the next phase of the update, and, in January 2017, made adoption of the General Plan a Board goal.

County staff members have been meeting extensively with community groups, stakeholders, and local and regional agencies to work collaboratively toward resolution of the concerns that were raised in the comment letters. Through this outreach, it has become clear that there are shared values across seemingly disparate interest groups countywide. Part of the County’s job with this General Plan Update is to translate those shared values into policies and programs that bridge the normal dividing lines, providing a unified vision for the future of Tuolumne County. In addition, because the General Plan will guide decisions over a long planning timeframe (i.e., 25 years), it will be important for it to provide both certainty and predictability for the community, as well as flexibility and adaptability to respond to changes over time.

Staff is currently underway preparing revisions to the Draft General Plan and a new EIR that will be recirculated for another round of public review in the summer of 2018. In addition to revisions that respond to community comments, staff is also refining the Draft General Plan content to eliminate redundancies, conflicts, and inconsistencies within the document, as well as to respond to recent changes in State law. In addition, staff is reformatting, reorganizing, and streamlining the General Plan to produce a user-friendly document that will be easy to read and serve as a useful resource for years to come.

What’s Ahead

Once the updates and refinements to the Draft General Plan and EIR are complete, they will be made available to the community for  review and comment; the review period will last for at least 45 days pursuant to State law. The County will hold a public hearing for verbal comments, and comment letters and emails will be welcome during that timeframe, which is currently anticipated to occur in the summer 2018.

Meanwhile, County staff will continue to ensure a transparent process by informing the community about the current phase of work on the General Plan, primarily using the website to post key information, publications, meeting dates, and ways to comment. Staff will also continue to meet with local interest groups and stakeholders, and the Board of Supervisors will host informational sessions during regular Board meetings over the coming months to educate all about the basics of the General Plan and EIR content and process. Those informational sessions will be held during the following Board of Supervisors meetings:

Title

Content

Date

General Plan/CEQA 101

What is a General Plan? What are its main functions, and what are the limits of what it can achieve? How does the General Plan relate to and differ from the Zoning Code? What is the CEQA process and what is an EIR? What is the CEQA process and what is an EIR? What does a General Plan EIR evaluate and at what level of detail?

April 3

Community Plans 101

What is a community plan? What are its main functions, and what are the limits of what it can achieve? How does it relate to the countywide General Plan?

April 17

General Plan Implementation

How will goals, policies, and implementation programs affect decision-making after the General Plan is adopted? How will the land use map affect future decision-making?

May 15

Public Review 101

What is the process and schedule for the public review phase? How will comments be received and responded to? How will comments be conveyed to decision-makers?

What types of comments are appropriate for the General Plan versus the EIR?

June 5

For additional information about the General Plan Update, please contact Quincy Yaley at 209-533-5633 or at qyaley@co.tuolumne.ca.us.