Making Democracy Work

Land Use Planning Policies

Adopted 1973

The Leagues of Women Voters of Santa Clara County support a planned growth policy for the county and the cities.  It opposes the continuation of rapid, sprawling growth in the county and the consequent erosion of natural assets.

The Leagues advocate these areas of activity to advance its land use goals:

  • A coordinated plan for the county and its cities which provides urbanized areas, transitional areas, and open space.
    • Growth should be directed within specific urban service areas according to the ability of these areas to provide adequately for a population level.  The projected population level should be based on sufficient transportation, schools, parks, open space, water, and sewers
    • Financial resources are needed for necessary utilities, services, and capital improvements.
    • This planned growth policy should implement high standards for clean air and water, noise levels, and public safety in hazardous areas.
    • An economic element must also be included in the planning process to meet the needs of the area.
    • The primary goal of the plan should be an environment beneficial to life.

  • Full use of governmental powers to plan, direct, and control growth.
    • Public bodies should use their powers actively to develop and promote land use policies that meet objectives of the plan.
    • City and County boards and agencies should intensify their coordination and cooperation in planning for areas of mutual concern.

  • Safeguards for public and private interests. Governmental bodies should:
    • Increase efforts to inform the public.
    • Provide hearings.
    • Coordinate their activities.
    • Project private and public interests against arbitrary use of power.
    • Consider special needs of poor, handicapped, and elderly.

  • The coordinated plan for the county and its cities should further these objectives:
    • Population density and distribution that is compatible with resources and high quality environment.
    • Balanced and diversified economy with sufficient commerce and industry to provide jobs for residents, and a tax base to support county municipal services.
    • Provision for environmental health factors, including the adoption and maintenance of acceptable standards of air and water quality.
    • Preservation and conservation of natural resources and open space.
    • Consideration of, and planning for, public safety and welfare in areas of natural and geological hazards.
    • Adequate provision for diversified housing, transportation, employment, educational facilities, recreational facilities, and commercial and professional services.
    • Recognition of those needs common to residents of the Bay Area and cooperation with the other governmental entities to meet those needs.

  • Governmental bodies should make full use of their powers to implement League land use goals.  These powers include tax rate and assessment policies, zoning policies, and provision of utility services and capital improvements, and also
    • Support by cities and county of state-wide tax reform, including reevaluation of property assessment requirements such as highest and best use.
    • Assessment policies that discourage land speculation.
    • Special taxes on and reflecting excessive profits gained by public decision.
    • Use of innovative zoning techniques such as, but not limited to, the following: planned unit development, cluster development, mixed density, vertical zoning, impact zoning, performance zoning, bonus incentives, fees and mandatory land contributions, special area zoning--scenic hazardous, hillsides, flood plain, seismic, preservation of natural and other resources.  Also, down-zoning (from higher to more limited land use) to promote the public good.
    • Moratoriums to allow time for study and evaluation.
    • Land banking.
    • Annexation policies that insure orderly development.
    • Cost-benefit studies that require evaluation of socioeconomic factors and environmental factors.
    • Environmental impact reports that require:
      • Standardized criteria for methods of preparation and qualifications for unbiased third party.
      • Preparation by unbiased third party.
      • Adequate notification and information available to the public.

  • In order to protect public and private interest, public bodies should increase efforts to:
    • Update and strengthen adherence to their general plans and zoning ordinances.
    • Insure coordination between municipal planning and school district planning.
    • Give attention to the interrelationships of zoning, assessments, and provision of utility services for the benefit or the community.
    • Consider the special needs of the poor, handicapped, and elderly when making decisions affecting land use.
    • Insure full information to the public through the press, public hearings, and special notices.
    • Provide adequate public notification of vacancies in appointive bodies and fill these vacancies within specified period of time.


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