The County’s General Plan states that Ventura County allows owners, lessees or buyers (in escrow) of land to make application for amendments to the Ventura County General Plan for land they own, lease or are buying. General Plan Amendment applications must contain all information required by the Planning Division and must be accompanied by all application processing fees/deposits as specified by the Board of Supervisors.
SOAR Ordinance and General Plan Amendments
SOAR, which stands for “Save Open-space and Agricultural Resources,” is a voter initiative that was approved in 1998, and renewed by voter approval in 2016. The Ventura County SOAR Ordinance sunsets on December 31, 2050. Under the County’s SOAR Ordinance, lands designated Agriculture, Open Space or Rural in the County of Ventura General Plan shall not be re-designated to another land use category without a vote of the people. Therefore, a proposed General Plan Amendment which seeks to change a land use designation from Agriculture, Open Space or Rural to a more intensive land use category would require a countywide vote of the people to approve such change.
The Planning Division is responsible for the processing of amendments to the Ventura County General Plan and Ventura County Coastal and Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinances, including zone changes, text changes, development agreements, and specific plans. All applications for General Plan and Zoning Ordinance amendments are subject to the approval of the Board of Supervisors, require an analysis by the Planning Division and various County Departments and Agencies, and entail public hearings before the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. Findings for the approval of these legislative amendments are derived from State Planning and Zoning Laws, and the provisions of the respective Zoning Ordinances.
Pursuant to General Plan policy 3.1.2-11, discretionary development shall be consistent with the Guidelines for Orderly Development which were initially adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 1969 and revised in 1996. The Guidelines for Orderly Development state that urban development should occur, whenever and wherever practical, within incorporated cities which exist to provide a full range of municipal services and are responsible for urban land use planning. As defined in the Guidelines for Orderly Development, development shall be considered “urban” if it meets any of the following criteria:
- It would require the establishment of new community sewer systems or the significant expansion of existing community sewer systems;
- It would result in the creation of residential lots less than two acres in area; or
- It would result in the establishment of commercial or industrial uses which are neither agriculturally-related nor related to the production of mineral resources.
All privately-initiated General Plan Amendments must complete a screening hearing before the Board of Supervisors prior to application submittal to the Planning Division. During General Plan Amendment screenings, the Board of Supervisors will evaluate whether or not to allow processing of the requested General Plan Amendment using criteria set forth in the General Plan Amendment Screening Guidelines.
Pursuant to Section II.A of the General Plan Amendment Screening Guidelines, discussion of the amendment request shall be limited to land use, and general plan issues and policies only. Other discussions relating to specific project design, etc., will not be permitted. Moreover, the burden of proof as to the amendment request’s conformity and compatibility with the General Plan goals and policies shall be the responsibility of the applicant. As such, the Screening process allows the screening out of proposed General Plan Amendments that have no potential for achieving conformity and compatibility with the County’s adopted land use plans, policies, and surrounding land uses. The Screening hearing benefits landowners and applicants by providing valuable input from the Board of Supervisors early in the planning process.
Zone changes, if necessary, shall be processed concurrently with General Plan Amendments to ensure zoning consistency. Because of the degree of specificity on the General Plan’s Existing Community Maps, any zone change within an Existing Community covered by a Zoning Map shall require a General Plan amendment.
- New Project Referral Form
Form required for land use permits or entitlements for urban development on property located within a City’s sphere of influence.