General Plan Amendment (GPA) Batching
(Updated: November 2020)
General Plan Amendment Batching
County of San Diego 2011 General Plan directs future growth in the unincorporated areas of the County. The County of San Diego is processing multiple privately-initiated and County-initiated General Plan Amendments (GPAs) that, if approved, would modify the 2011 General Plan. Government Code Section 65358 limits the number of times any General Plan mandatory element can be amended to four times per year. Mandatory General Plan elements include: the Regional Land Use Element (Land Use Element), Mobility Element, Conservation and Open Space Element, Housing Element, Safety Element and Noise Element. However, each time an amendment is made, it may include more than one change to the General Plan. To facilitate the processing of multiple GPAs, the County has initiated a “batch” approach (as previously utilized in 2009, 2010, and 2018) to bundle the items on the occasions where a General Plan Amendment includes more than one change.
The following information describes the Batching Process, Contact Information & Links to Project Documents, options for providing Public Input, Hearing Day Procedures, and Background/Government Code information. Lastly, a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document summarizes key information.
- All GPA projects in a batch are included as a single Agenda item to the Board for consideration
- Each project is listed as a sub-item in a single Board letter and presented at a noticed public hearing
- Each individual project included in the batch is presented separately to the Board for discussion
- Each project is individually allotted time for public participation
- Each individual project will have a staff presentation, public testimony and discussion by the Board
- The Board will take a preliminary or tentative vote on each individual project at the conclusion of discussion on that particular project
- After all of the projects in the batch are heard, the Board will take action to approve all, some, none, alternatives of the various projects or remand the project back to staff or the Planning Commission for further evaluation
- The final decision of the Board on the batch is contained within one single resolution for the General Plan Amendment
- Depending on the individual project schedule, any of these GPAs may be heard by the Board alone, i.e. without another GPA scheduled for the same hearing date, or as part of a batch
Privately-initiated GPAs that were heard in 2018
Otay 250 (Land Use Element) (Approved July 25, 2018)
Valiano (Land Use Element) (Approved July 25, 2018)
Harmony Grove Village South (Land Use Element) (Approved July 25, 2018)
Newland Sierra (Land Use and Mobility Elements) (Approved September 26, 2018)
County-initiated GPAs that were heard in 2018
Active Transportation Plan (Mobility Element) ( Approved October 31, 2018)
Privately-initiated GPAs that were heard in 2019
Otay Ranch Village 14 and Planning Areas 16 and 19 (Land Use and Mobility Elements) (Approved June 26, 2019)
Aventine at Sweetwater Springs (Land Use Element) (Approved January 29, 2020)
Skyline Retirement Center (Land Use Element) (Approved January 29, 2020)
Otay Ranch Resort Village - Village 13 (Land Use and Mobility Elements) (On the Agenda for the November 18, 2020 Meeting)
Lilac Hills Ranch (Land Use and Mobility Elements) (Denied June 24, 2020)
Smilax Road Townhomes (No date has been set)
County-initiated GPAs that may be heard in 2020
2019 General Plan Clean-Up (Approved January 29, 2020)
Property Specific Request (Land Use Element & Mobility Element) (No date has been set)
- Each proposed GPA project, batched or not, is required to go through the same level of analysis during the planning process
- Privately-initiated GPAs have been in the planning process between one and half years to twelve years, with an average time of five years
- Regardless of whether a proposed GPA is batched or not, the same public input is sought at multiple times during the County’s entitlement process
- At least two separate reviews by Community Planning Group/Sponsor Groups (CPG/CSG), which include the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and project review, as well as at noticed public hearings by the Planning Commission and by the Board
- Public input is also sought during the noticed review period for environmental document(s) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) including the Notice of Preparation and during review of the Draft EIR
- All public comments received two days in advance of the Planning Commission hearing and three days in advance of the Board hearing are incorporated into the project record and provided to the decision-making bodies for consideration; contact the respective project manager to provide input (Project Contact Information)
- All exhibits, including documentary materials such as photographs, drawings, maps, plats, letters petitions and other physical evidence received by the Board at hearings shall be retained by the Clerk as part of the record of the hearings
- Any person wishing to speak to the Board on a specific agenda item must file with the Clerk a written Request to Speak form prior to the scheduled 9:00 AM start of the meeting
- Any person who does not wish to speak to the Board but wishes to have the record reflect a position in favor or in opposition to an agenda item may do so by indicating their position on the Request to Speak form
- How to submit public
comment to the Board in person:
- Identify the project(s)
- Fill out a speaker slip on one or more projects (support, oppose, neutral)
- Submit a Request to Speak form to the Clerk of the Board prior to the scheduled 9:00 am start of the meeting
County Administration Center - 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego, CA 92101
- Board Chambers – 3rd floor of County Administration Center (Room 310, North Chamber)
- Board Chambers Overflow Lounge across from the Board Chambers (Room 302)
- Cafeteria - 4th floor in the south wing of the building
- South Chambers located on the 3rd floor (Room 358)
- Chambers Balcony located on the 4th floor (Room 410)
Public Transit - San Diego Region 511
- Trolley/Bus (Metropolitan
- County Center / Little Italy Station (Map)
- Bus Stops
Where to Park
Q: What is a General Plan Amendment (GPA)?
A: State law requires each city and county to prepare and adopt a General Plan for its physical development. The County General Plan was adopted on August 3, 2011 by the Board of Supervisors. The General Plan contains seven legally required topics, or mandatory elements. State law recognizes that from time to time, the General Plan must be amended to make changes to accommodate public and private projects, to update information and policies, or to comply with State regulations. The change or update to the elements in the General Plan is a GPA. GPAs can be privately-initiated, or publicly-initiated (County).
Q: Do other cities or counties use GPA batching?
A: Yes, other cities and counties in the State use GPA Batching. Not only has the batching process been used by the County of San Diego in the past, it is also used elsewhere in the State, including the County of Riverside and the County of Sacramento. The City of Los Angeles will be updating 35 Community Plans within the next three years, and the City Council has discussed batching of GPAs for that effort.
Q: Are the batched projects privately initiated projects or publicly
A: Both privately initiated projects and publicly initiated projects can be batched together. For example in 2010, the Board considered three different batches; the first was on May 17, 2010, the second on August 4, 2010 and the third on October 13, 2010. The Board considered and approved three GPAs in the August 4, 2010 batch that included two County-initiated projects (Tiered Winery Ordinance and Density Bonus Ordinance), and one privately initiated project (Montecito Ranch). In 2018, the Board considered and approved three GPAs in the July 25, 2018 batch that included three privately-initiated projects (Otay 250, Valiano, and Harmony Grove Village South).
Q: What GPAs may be heard this year (2020)?
Privately-initiated GPAs that may be heard in 2020:
- Aventine at Sweetwater Springs (Land Use Element) (Approved January 29, 2020)
- Skyline Retirement Center (Land Use Element) (Approved January 29, 2020)
- Otay Ranch Resort Village - Village 13 (Land Use and Mobility Elements) (On the Agenda for the November 18, 2020 Meeting)
- Lilac Hills Ranch (Land Use and Mobility Elements) (Denied June 24, 2020)
- Smilax Road Townhomes (No date has been set)
County-initiated GPAs that may be heard in 2020:
- 2019 General Plan Clean-Up (Approved January 29, 2020)
- Property Specific Request (Land Use Element & Mobility Element) (No date has been set)
Q: Why were projects batched in 2018 and are proposed to be batched in 2020?
Each individual project must complete the review process prior to consideration by the Board, and each project has its own schedule for completion of the review process. The timeframes for the review process vary and depend on the project. The privately-initiated GPA projects that were considered in 2018 had been in process between approximately one and a half to five and a half years. The privately-initiated GPA projects that may be considered in 2020 have been in process between approximately one and a half to three and a half years. As the projects complete the review process, they advance to the Board only after the process is complete. In the event that multiple project schedules align, they can be considered for batching.
Q: Is there a limit on the number of projects that can be batched?
A: Although the batching “bundles” multiple GPA projects into a single batch, each project is still processed and presented to the Planning Commission and Board separately. There is no limit defined in the California Government Code.
Q: Where do I go for the batching hearing?
A: The GPA hearings are conducted by the Board of Supervisors at the County Administration Center located in downtown San Diego at 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego, CA 92101. The Board Chambers are located on the third floor of the County Administration Center, in Room 310 and is accessible by elevator or stairs.
Q: How does a Board hearing work?
A: Standard schedule of business for the Land Use agenda session*:
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 Noon Land Use Matters
County Counsel will report on Closed Session actions (if necessary)
12:00 Noon – 2:00 p.m. Recess
2:00 p.m. – Until Adjournment into Closed Session Land Use Matters (if necessary)
Closed Session (if necessary)
*The Chairperson may alter or deviate from the published agenda order
Q: Who will be there to provide assistance and answer questions on the
day of the hearing?
A: Welcome tables will be located at the stair landing on the third floor with County staff members ready to assist members of the public as they arrive. Welcome tables will also be located at the entrance of the Board Chambers and the overflow lounge directly across from the Board Chambers.
Q: Where can I park my car downtown?
A: There are a number of public parking structures and on-street parking within close proximity to the County Administration Center that will be available the day of the hearing. Please note any on-street parking restrictions as listed below for each applicable location:
Q: When will my item be heard on the day of the hearing?
A: The agenda will be set and published one week before the hearing date, and will be available on the Clerk of the Board website:
The meeting is conducted in accordance with the Board of Supervisors Rules of Procedures (also available at the above link). The Board meeting will be conducted by the Chairperson, and the agenda order is subject to change.
Q: How do I submit comments or request to speak?
A: Any person wishing to speak to the Board on a specific agenda item must file with the Clerk a written Request to Speak form prior to the scheduled opening time of the session or prior to the time that the item is called for discussion if the item has not been adopted without discussion. Any person who does not wish to speak to the Board but wishes to have the record reflect a position in favor or in opposition to an agenda item may do so by indicating their preference on the Request to Speak form. Contact the respective project manager to provide comments up to three days in advance of the Board hearing (Project Contact Information).
Q: How do I submit a Request to Speak form in person?
A: You will fill out a separate speaker slip for each project that you wish to speak to. You may speak to all of the projects or just one. The slips are colored to identify your position (support, oppose). Any person who does not wish to speak to the Board but wishes to have the record reflect a position in favor or in opposition to an agenda item may do so by indicating their preference on the Request to Speak form. Staff will be available at the welcome tables outside the Board Chambers to assist you with the Request to Speak form.
Q: What is the deadline to turn in a Request to Speak form?
A: Submission of a Request to Speak form to the Clerk of the Board is required before 9:00 AM. However, the Board Chairperson may elect to allow submission prior to the time individual batch sub items are called for discussion. Normally if an agenda item is set or a specific time, a written Request to Speak form must be filled at least five minutes prior to that specific time. County staff and the Clerk of the Board will be available prior to start of hearings to answer any question related to the submission of Request to Speak forms.
Q: How much time will each person be given to speak? Instead of 3
minutes, will people be allowed less time to accommodate the crowd size?
A: The Board Chairperson may limit the time for presentation and the number of persons who may address the Board on any agenda item. The County of San Diego Board of Supervisors Rules of Procedure, Rule 4 (a) states: the general policy of the Board regarding public participation is three minutes per person; the Chairperson may set a limit for organized group presentations of three or more persons up to 15 minutes and may set limits for each side when many persons request to speak on an agenda item.
Q: What happens if the meeting is adjourned and continued?
A: Any meeting of the Board may be adjourned to any date and time when necessary for the transaction of business. Any adjourned meeting of the Board is part of a regular meeting. If the Board takes no action because a motion of the item failed to carry by the required affirmative vote, the Board may at that meeting continue the matter for further consideration. Whenever the Board directs any item be continued to a regular meeting on a future date, the Clerk will list the item on the agenda of such future date. Any meeting of the Board may be adjourned to any date and time when necessary for the transaction of business.
Q: How long will the hearing take?
A: The hearing length is dependent upon the number of speakers and presentations, and the length of discussion by the Board. It is possible that the hearing may take the majority of the day. A lunch break will be provided in the event the hearing continues into the afternoon.
Q: Where can I find information on the GPA projects to be considered?
A: Information can be found at the following link for the respective project website.
Q: How long did the Planning Commission take to deliberate the projects,
and is that an indicator of how long the Board hearing will take?
A: The Planning Commission hearings have been completed for several General Plan Amendments since 2018 and they have varied in length. Otay 250 was heard on April 13, 2018 and took approximately 1 hour. Valiano was heard on May 11, 2018 and took approximately 3 1/2 hours. Harmony Grove Village South was heard on May 24, 2018 and took approximately 4 hours. Newland Sierra was heard on June 28, 2018 and took approximately 6 1/2 hours. Otay Ranch Village 14 and Planning Areas 16 and 19 was heard on October 19, 2018 and took approximately 4 hours. Aventine at Sweetwater Springs was heard on September 13, 2019 and took approximately 1 hour. The Skyline Retirement Center was heard on November 8, 2019 and took approximately 2 hours.
Q: What is the rationale for bundling projects together? Grouped
geographically or randomly?
A: Batched GPAs are scheduled to generally coincide with their project schedules, and are grouped together after each batched project has received a recommendation from the Planning Commission at public hearing.
Q: How was analysis conducted?
A: Each proposed GPA project, batched or not, is required to go through the same discretionary review process. The privately-initiated GPAs have been in the planning process between one and half years to twelve years, with an average time of five years.
Q: How has public input been gathered?
A: Regardless of whether a proposed GPA is batched or not, the same public input is sought at multiple times during the County’s entitlement process. At least two separate reviews by Community Planning Group/Sponsor Groups (CPG/CSG), which include the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and project review, as well as at noticed public hearings by the Planning Commission and by the Board. Public input is also sought during the noticed review period for environmental document(s) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); including Notice of Preparation, and during review of the Draft EIR.
Q: Who gets notified about hearings?
A: Property owners within a radius of 300 feet of the existing boundaries of the property covered by any General Plan Amendment applications are notified prior to the consideration of the matter by the Board of Supervisors.
Q: What is the notification process/requirement for General Plan Amendments?
A: Public noticing requirements for General Plan Amendments are specified in the State of California Government Code sections 65353, 65090, 65091, and 65094. Because of number of the land use changes proposed in a GPA, and the potential to affect others’ real property, notice is given the following ways: 1. Notice is mailed or delivered at least 10 days prior to the hearing to the owner of the subject real property; 2. Notice is provided to each local agency expected to provide water, sewage, streets, roads, schools, or other essential facilities or services to the project; 3. Notice is provided to all owners of real property as shown on the latest equalized assessment roll within 300 feet of the GPA; 4. Published in a newspaper proceeding at least 10 days prior to the hearing; and 5. Notice of upcoming hearings is provided on County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors websites.
Q: What public comment and documents are public record?
A: Documents to be considered as evidence shall be filed with the Secretary of the Planning Commission not later than the close of business of the second working day prior to Planning Commission hearing and with the Clerk of the Board no later than the close of business three days in advance of the Board hearing to be incorporated in to the project record and provided to the decision-making bodies for consideration. All exhibits, including documentary materials such as photographs, drawings, maps, plans, letter petitions and other evidence received by the Board at hearings are retained by the Clerk as part of the record of the hearings.
Q: What if a Supervisor has a conflict of interest? How is it determined?
A: The County’s conflict of interest code (Ordinance 9803 and California Government Code §18730) designates positions, including Planning Commissioners, and Board of Supervisors as required to file Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700). The Form 700 is a public document intended to alert public officials and members of the public to the types of financial interest that may create conflict of interest including: interests in real property, sources of income and business positions that designated positions may affect in their decision-making. The California Fair Political Practices Commission maintains a statewide publicly available database of all Form 700s filed by public officials: http://www.fppc.ca.gov/Form700.html
Q: Where can I find information about the environmental impacts of GPAs?
A: Every GPA being considered by the Board has a project website that functions as a publicly accessible repository of all project-related analysis, and environmental review documents. Of key importance are the CEQA documents that contain the analysis, project alternatives, disclosures about the environmental impacts of the project, and responses to public comments. Links are provided on the GPA Batching Website, the BoS Hearing Agenda, eBlast, the Planning & Development Services website, project websites and within the Public Notices mailed to property owners prior to the Hearing.
Q: Why is there not an EIR for all the batched GPA projects together?
A: Each project is evaluated separately and contains its own CEQA and planning analysis. Each project analyzes their direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts. Each project’s cumulative analysis includes reasonably foreseeable projects within the applicable cumulative study area, which may include other batched projects. If a specific batched project is excluded from a project’s cumulative analysis, it may be because that project is located outside the cumulative study area identified in that EIR. Therefore, the EIRs prepared for each of the batched projects have independently and adequately analyzed the potential cumulative impacts from each of the batched GPAs, if applicable. A “batch” approach used to bundle the occasions where more than one change to the General Plan is being considered by the Board, would not itself result in a physical impact on the environment necessitating an EIR for the batch.