General Plan Update

The City of Salinas is the largest City in Monterey County, and is also one of the fastest growing. The future growth of Salinas will have very significant impacts on the Monterey County economy and environment, and the kind of housing provided, as growth occurs, will have a determinative impact on social equity issues. The General Plan Update adopted by the Salinas City Council in 2002 proposes the conversion of over 3,000 acres of prime farmland, to accommodate new developments.

LandWatch Position: Supported Inclusionary Housing
Project Status: Plan Approved

Quick Facts

  • The City of Salinas prepared a General Plan to direct planning efforts from 2005 to 2025.
  • The Plan represents an expansion (i.e., areas shown for future growth and annexation) of only 426 acres above the previous (1988) Plan. Mixed use/New Urbanist/Neotraditional neighborhood development is an integral part of the Plan.
  • The City of Salinas is the Lead Agency.

Project Status

  • Salinas is developing its West Area Specific Plan which includes more than 4,100 units, mixed use, neighborhoods, parks, schools. Public outreach occurred in June 2019.
  • The General Plan was adopted in September 2002. (42.2M PDF file)
  • The Final Environmental Impact Report was released in August 2002 and certified in September 2002. (5.3M PDF file)

Project Location Map

This map shows the existing city limits
and the future growth area.

Full Size Map (172K PDF file)
Credit: City of Salinas General Plan (September 2002)

Resources at Risk

  • Lack of Clear Objectives
    The City through strong clear, and unambiguous policy language will have to be followed in subsequent City Council decisions.
  • Inadequate Affordable Housing Options
    At least 25% of the new housing built should be enforceably restricted and permanently protected for sale or rental to families who have family incomes equal to or lower than the median family income in Salinas at the time that the housing development is approved.
  • Loss of Agricultural Resources
    Using up more than 4,000 acres of land trying to accommodate 90,000 people at low densities, the City Council could, and should, demand that the new General Plan use land efficiently, at higher but still moderate densities.

LandWatch Involvement

LandWatch engages in the public process in a variety of ways. For this project, here is a list of our engagement strategies.

  • Letter: LandWatch Comments on West Area Specific Plan DEIR (587K PDF)
    As proposed, the Salinas’ West Area Specific Plan is a case study in urban sprawl. The plan proposes developing approximately 797 acres of annexed farmland with up to 4,340 residential dwelling units, up to 571,500 square feet of commercial/mixed use building area, and up to 177 acres of public facilities. LandWatch comments on the draft EIR urge a more sustainable planning approach. (04.11.19)
  • Letter: Support for Inclusionary Housing (315K PDF)
    LandWatch writes in strong support of Salinas’ efforts to update the City’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance with the aim of creating more housing opportunities for residents at all income levels. We agree with the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP) letter outlining the need of more housing for low income households, such as farmworkers, seniors and the developmentally disabled. We urge the City Council to approve the updated Inclusionary Housing Ordinance along with the MBEP considerations. (05.01.17)
  • Letter: Request for Officials to Represent the Public Interests in the Greater Salinas Area MOU (192K PDF)
    The Board and the Council should be representing the public. Their official actions should advance public interests. The so-called “Greater Salinas Area Memorandum of Understanding,” which comes out of discussions behind closed doors, from a series of so-called “litigation” sessions, has very little, if anything, to do with the Environmental Impact Report issues that are at the heart of the City of Salinas lawsuit on the Rancho San Juan EIR, and which are the only issues that the Board or the Council could legitimately have discussed in a closed session. (08.28.06)
  • Letter: Comments on the Salinas General Plan Work Plan (90K PDF)
    LandWatch commends the City of Salinas for initiating the General Plan Update process. We offer several suggestions related to the census data, air quality components, public participation, and the visioning process. (08.17.99)
  • Letter: Recommending Changes to the Salinas General Plan (222K PDF)
    LandWatch makes suggestions on the General Plan and hopes that the City Council will take the time necessary to make changes to the June 2002 Draft General Plan, so that the General Plan as finally adopted will be a stronger and better document. (09.09.02)
  • Letter: Comments on the Draft General Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Report (273K PDF)
    LandWatch notes the DEIR on the Draft Salinas General Plan dated June 2002 fails to identify some possible negative effects of the proposed project. It also fails to explore possible alternatives. Most importantly and this is the most serious deficiency in the document the DEIR does not really suggest effective mitigation measures that could eliminate or reduce a number of the negative impacts it identifies. (07.31.02)
  • Letter: Urges Adoption of New Urbanism Policies (116K PDF)
    LandWatch urges adoption of policies, which are needed to establish Traditional Neighborhood Design principles to be followed within the Future Growth Areas designated in the Salinas General Plan. The proposed additional policies explain how “Traditional Neighborhood Development” (sometimes known as “New Urbanism”) will take place within such Future Growth Areas. (07.08.02)
  • Letter: Outlining Specific Policies Recommended for Adoption (165K PDF)
    LandWatch makes specific recommendations about strong, clear policies and specific projects like Rancho San Juan or topics like workforce housing. (10.24.01)
  • Letter: Focusing on the Preferred Alternative for the General Plan (122K PDF)
    Designating a “preferred alternative” that will be used as the basis upon which to prepare the draft Salinas General Plan Update is the second most important decision that will be made in the entire GPU process. LandWatch is delighted that your Commission, and the City Council, will each hold one or more public hearings prior to a City Council decision designating the City’s “preferred alternative.” (10.10.01)

Project History

  • Salinas to Increase Affordable Units
    The Central Area Specific Plan will have a substantial affordable component within the 760-acre development. After discussions with LandWatch and others, the developer will build affordable units instead of paying an in-lieu fee. (12.10.20)
  • Salinas Will Not Meet its Affordable Housing Goals
    Officials have determined that even with 10 years of effort, they’ve still only met 11% of the city’s affordable housing goals. Only 235 houses have been built out of the 2,229. (03.21.18)
  • LandWatch helps get Monterey County’s first Big Box Ordinance Passed in the City of Salinas with a 5-2 vote on March 10, 2009.
    LandWatch Monterey County, along with our labor and small business allies, supported the Big Box Ordinance that the Salinas City Council voted 5-2 in favor of on Tuesday, March 10, 2009. The city’s planning staff introduced an excellent ordinance – Zoning Code Amendment 2009-002 – to ensure that superstores will not induce urban blight in the city by running other Salinas retailers out-of-business. (03.10.09)
  • The “Community Plan”for Salinas Is An Extraordinary Document
    The LÌderes Comunitarios de Salinas is a group of mostly monolingual residents of East Salinas. They have developed a set of policies that they want included in the Salinas General Plan Update. These policies cover housing, agricultural land protection, and a host of other important planning issues. LandWatch is proud to have helped the LÌderes develop this extraordinary document. (08/16/02)
    • Petitions Circulating on Salinas General Plan
      Two local groups, with assistance from LandWatch, are trying to improve the Salinas General Plan Update. Líderes Comunitarios de Salinas is urging stronger housing policies. Their petition is in both English and Spanish. Citizens For Responsible Growth wants the General Plan to require a fiscal impact analysis, before new subdivisions are approved. You can read, download, sign and then circulate the petitions by using the links right here:

    • Salinas Has Released its Preliminary Draft General Plan
      Based on large population growth projections, the Preliminary Draft of the Salinas General Plan Update recommends the conversion of thousands of acres of agricultural land. (2001)
    • Salinas General Plan Workshops
      Salinas is the biggest city in Monterey County. Its next General Plan will have a major effect on the future of Monterey County. Now is the time to get involved! (04.04.01)
    • Salinas To Hold A Series of General Plan Workshops
      The Salinas City Council will hold a series of General Plan workshops during January. Now is the time to let the City Council know the issues that concern you most. It’s a good time to talk about urban growth boundaries, and the need for agricultural land preservation. (12.21.00)

Salinas Valley
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