Pinole's General Plan Updates

General Plan Updates

Land Use Planning for Pinole: Housing, Health & Safety and Environmental Justice

Pinole is currently updating the City's General Plan pursuant to State law, which requires an update to the Housing Element of the General Plan every eight years. For the 2023-2031 cycle Pinole's Housing Element update is being combined with an update to the Health & Safety Element and introducing the topic of Environmental Justice because issues of housing, environmental justice, safety and hazard planning and climate change are inextricably linked. Additionally, planning for all of these efforts simultaneously will result in a more comprehensive and holistic approach to these issues, as well as efficiencies related to outreach, environmental analysis and adoption and implementation efforts.

What is the Housing Element?

The Housing Element is one chapter in the Pinole General Plan. The General Plan provides a policy framework to guide decision-making for the next 20 years in the areas of land use, growth and development, housing, circulation, health and safety, open space, natural resources, sustainability and economic development, among other topics.

At its core, a Housing Element is an opportunity for a community conversation about how to address local housing challenges and develop solutions. The Housing Element addresses a range of housing issues such as affordability, design, housing types, density and location, and establishes goals, policies and programs to address existing and projected housing needs.

Local jurisdictions must update the Housing Element every 8 years in in conjunction with the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) projections of housing needs at varying income levels throughout the State, which is known as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). In 2023, the Pinole City Council adopted an updated Housing Element to meet the current RHNA: the 2023-2031 Housing Element. The City has received certification of the 2023-2031 Housing Element from HCD.

Why Adopt a Housing Element?

State law does not require that jurisdictions build or finance new housing, but they must plan for it by identifying of sufficient sites, analysis of housing development constraints, and identifying programs and policies that will address the community’s needs.

It is in the community’s Housing Element that local governments make decisions about where safe, accessible, and diverse housing could be developed to offer a mix of housing opportunities for a variety of household incomes. Further, the Housing Element must identify how the city will meet its share of the regional housing need. 

Jurisdictions can face a number of consequences for not having a certified Housing Element. If a city does not comply with State housing law, it can be sued – by individuals, developers, third parties or the State. In addition to facing significant fines, a court may limit local land use decision-making authority until the jurisdiction brings its Housing Element into compliance, and local governments may lose the right to deny certain projects. Conversely, having a certified Housing Element makes cities eligible for numerous sources of grant and affordable housing funding.

Why Include Health, Safety and Environmental Justice in the Project?

In 2016, the California legislature adopted Senate Bill (SB) 1000 requiring local jurisdictions to review and update Safety Elements of the General Plan to address and update hazards related to flooding, fires and to include climate adaptation and resilience strategies. In addition, SB 1000 added the topic of Environmental Justice to be addressed in local jurisdictions’ General Plans as a separate Element or addressed through related goals, policies and objectives within other Elements. In adopting this legislation, the State found that low-income communities and communities of color have experienced disproportionate environmental effects, pollution burdens and related health impacts.

As a result, these communities face barriers to overall health, livelihood, and sustainability. Based on State guidance, Environmental Justice-related work must disclose and work to reduce the disproportionate health risks in disadvantaged communities, to promote civic engagements in the decision-making process and to prioritize improvements that address the needs of identified “disadvantaged communities.

What is the Timeline for the Project?
In November 2021 the City released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to conduct a Housing Element, Health & Safety Element Update and develop an new Environmental Justice Element and related environmental analysis. On February 1, 2022, the City Council awarding the contract to Michael Baker International Consultants. 
What other Housing-Related Projects are Occurring in Pinole?
Information on housing related projects currently underway in Pinole can be found on the Current Planning page.