Chapter 36- Specific Plans



36.010          Intent.

36.020          Definition.

36.030          Contents.

36.040          Environmental review.

36.050          Land projects.

36.060          Amendments.




36.010     Intent.

Specific plans are intended to function as an implementation device for general plans, and as a standard-setting mechanism for detailed land use, subdivisions, and use permits. Therefore, when it is determined that a specific plan is needed, County action on the specific plan will precede land use changes, subdivisions, or other related actions affecting the same property. Once adopted, a specific plan can be used to expedite other matters.

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36.020     Definition.

A "Specific Plan" shall include "all detailed regulations, conditions, programs and proposed legislation" (Gov. Code Section 65451) regarding:

  1. The location of and standards for land uses and facilities;
  2. The location of and standards for streets, roads, and transportation facilities;
  3. Standards for population density and building intensity and provisions for supporting services;
  4. Standards for the conservation, development, and use of natural resources; and
  5. Provisions for implementing the open space element.

A specific plan must be consistent with this General Plan, and once adopted, can be used in lieu of other land development regulations, and shall effect the approval of subdivisions and capital facilities.

While the specific plan is normally optional, the Subdivision Map Act requires the adoption of a specific plan prior to approval of a land project that would place a residential subdivision of 50 or more parcels in a sparsely populated area (see definition of "Land Project,” contained in Title 17, Mono County Code).

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36.030     Contents.

A specific plan must contain measures to implement all the policies required in the pertinent General Plan, and may contain measures to implement policies in optional elements. It must also show existing and proposed land uses by parcel.

A specific plan includes:

  1. A written text describing the proposed project, standards for its development, and an analysis of its relationship to each element of the county General Plan and any area plan adopted for the area;
  2. Mapped information clearly showing the pertinent features of the proposed development, as well as conditions on and around the site affecting the overall design of the project.

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36.040     Environmental review.

Adoption or amendment of a specific plan constitutes a project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the state Environmental Impact Report (EIR) guidelines. If the initial study shows that the proposed or amended specific plan could significantly affect the environment, the jurisdiction must prepare an EIR and submit it in draft form for public review. Although the need for an EIR will be determined on a case-by-case basis, EIRs are usually required because of the detailed development patterns and complex potential effects associated with a specific plan or major amendment.

A specific plan and an EIR on a specific plan overlap extensively; they must address many of the same concerns and the process for preparing them is nearly identical. Thus, environmental assessment should be an integral part of preparing or revising a specific plan.

When residential subdivisions and land use designation changes are consistent with the specific plan, permit processing can be speeded up since another EIR is not necessary as long as the specific plan EIR was certified after January 1, 1980 (Gov. Code Section 65453(b)). It will, however, be necessary to complete a supplemental EIR if, after adoption of the specific plan:

  1. Substantial changes are proposed in the project;
  2. Substantial changes occur in the reasons why a project is being undertaken; or
  3. New information on the project becomes available.

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36.050     Land projects.

As described under the specific plan definition, land projects require submittal of a specific plan before approval. Because many land projects are located in remote areas lacking public services, they are often speculative ventures. They may involve only one developer and are intended primarily for residential use. Consequently, particular attention shall be paid to the relationship of the land project to the surrounding area and the need for new community facilities.

A specific plan must include (in addition to those listed under 36.030 "Contents"), that land projects close to one another be considered jointly under a single plan so that cumulative effects can be assessed.

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36.060     Amendments.

Amendments to a specific plan can be handled through the Director Review process if no change in density results and no change in conditions are necessary. All other amendments shall follow the procedures in Chapter 48, Amendments.

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