Saturday, February 12, 2011

#43 / OPR

It is my strong belief (as I frequently say in my weekday Land Use Reports on KUSP Radio) that the world we most immediately inhabit, the "human" world, as opposed to the "natural" world, is largely created by the choices we make about how we use the land.

Land use planning "counts." Land use choices profoundly affect the environment, the economy, and how successful we are in meeting our social equity goals.

Californians who want to understand how we make decisions about land use need to become familiar with the state Planning and Zoning Law, as found in the California Government Code, Sections 65000 to 66037. They also ought to become familiar with the Governor's Office of Planning and Research, most popularly called "OPR." I'm looking forward to a rejuvenated, OPR-led effort under Governor Brown, to provide statewide leadership on land use planning. That is what the OPR is supposed to do:

[Statutes of 1970, Chapter 1534]

The Office of Planning and Research shall give immediate and high priority to the development of land use policy. As a first component of such policy, the office shall develop, in conjunction with appropriate state departments and federal, regional and local agencies, a statewide plan and implementation program for protecting land and water resources of the state which are of statewide significance in terms of the state’s natural resource base and the preservation and enhancement of environmental quality and are threatened due to urban expansion, incompatible public or private use or development or other circumstances. The planning program shall consider, but not be limited to:

1. Areas of outstanding scientific, scenic and recreation value.

2. Areas which are required as habitat for significant fish and wildlife resources….

3. Forest and agricultural lands….

4. Areas which provide green space and open areas in and around high-density metropolitan development.

5. Areas which are required to provide needed access to coastal beaches, lakeshores, and riverbanks.

6. Areas which require special development regulation because of hazardous or special conditions, such as earthquake fault zones, unstable slide areas, flood plains, and watersheds.

7. Areas which serve as connecting links between major public recreation and open-space sites, such as utility easements, streambanks, trails, and scenic highway corridors.

8. Areas of major historic or cultural interest.

The planning and implementation program shall consider the full range of powers, programs and actions by which state government may influence the use and development of land and water resources, including public acquisition, zoning, tax incentives, development regulations and acquisition of development rights.

All this after the Governor and the Legislature have addressed our budget crisis, of course!

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