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Planning and Community Development Department

  • Community Planning

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  • Specific Plans

    A specific plan is a document designed to implement the goals and policies of the General Plan. Specific plans will be prepared for the seven areas which have been identified below. These plans will contain detailed development standards, distribution of land uses, infrastructure requirements, and implementation measures for the development of a specific geographic area. Transit- oriented development, pedestrian-oriented development, and mixed use development with housing over commercial, will be included in specific plans. 

    Specific Plans 

    1. Central District 
    2. South Fair Oaks 
    3. West Gateway 
    4. East Pasadena 
    5. East Colorado Boulevard 
    6. North Lake 
    7. Fair Oaks/Orange Grove 
    8. Lincoln Avenue Specific Plan 


    Talleyhese development standards and regulations are the most important aspect of a specific plan since it is through these standards that the goals and policies of the General Plan are implemented. The specific plan is similar in nature to the zoning ordinance because it deals with implementation through the use of development regulations. Unlike the citywide zoning ordinance, however, specific plans are targeted to specific planning areas. This allows for greater flexibility and provides an opportunity to focus regulations and standards on the goals of a specific geographic area. This is the primary purpose of a specific plan which provides a mechanism to target implementation measures toward a specific planning area while preserving and enhancing areas of historical or architectural significance. Specific plans will be prepared to include all areas of the City where the bulk of development is planned to occur.

    The contents of a specific plan are contained in the State Planning and Zoning Law. Section 65451 (a) of the Planning and Zoning Law states that:

    (a) A specific plan shall include a text and diagram or diagrams which specify all of the following in detail:


    (1) The distribution, location, and extent of the uses of land, including open space, within the area covered by the plan.

    (2) The proposed distribution, location, and extent and intensity of major components of public and private transportation, sewage, water, drainage, solid waste disposal, energy, and other essential facilities proposed to be located within the area covered by the plan and needed to support the land uses described in the plan.

    (3) Standards and criteria by which development will proceed, and standards for the conservation, development. and utilization of natural resources, where applicable.

    (4) A program of implementation measures including regulations, programs, and public works projects, and financing measures necessary to carry out paragraphs (1), (2), and (3).

    (b) The specific plan shall include a statement of the relationship of the specific plan to the general plan. In addition, the specific plan may contain any other material considered necessary or desirable for General Plan implementation.

    Development standards which may be considered in the specific plan preparation include such things as:

    • Transfer of Development Rights;
    • Building Heights;
    • Linkage of Land Use Types;
    • Phasing of Development;
    • Economic Feasibility;
    • Compatibility with Adjacent Neighborhoods;
    • Bulk and Massing;
    • Density;
    • Hours of Operation; and
    • Intensity and Location of Housing.

    As described below, the General Plan designates the total square footage and the mix of allowed uses within each specific plan area. During the preparation of the specific plans, movement from one category to another within a specific plan area or strategy area will be allowed if necessary to implement the goals of the specific plan. Under no circumstances will there be a shift from one Specific Plan area to another or from one strategy area to another. These shifts may require an amendment or supplement to the General Plan environmental impact report through a public process. In addition, each specific plan will contain a " 25 % flexibility factor". This means that any category within a specific plan can be increased by 25% by borrowing from another non-residential category within the same area, therefore the total square footage is not changed. This process will be done through a noticed public hearing before the Planning Commission.

    Specific plans may be developed in a variety of ways. Two possibilities for development of the specific plans have been considered. One of these is the use of 'charettes'. A charette is an intensive workshop organized for a two to three day period which involves the participation of all relevant parties including residents, property owners, City officials, and other interested organizations. The purpose of a charette is to have all relevant participants and materials available at one time in order to reach a decision within the duration of the workshop. Another possible method of development is the standard committee process where a committee of residents, property owners and other relevant participants meets regularly for a period of time until the details of the specific plan are completed. Whichever method is utilized it is the intent of the process to include extensive community participation. The success of the specific plan is dependent upon the scope of public participation.

    The time required for specific plan preparation will vary dependent upon the type of participation process utilized. The charette process is designed to provide a relatively fast preparation schedule, whereas the committee process may take a longer period of time.

    General Plan consistency findings in specific planning areas, prior to adoption of a specific plan, will be guided by the objectives and policies of the draft Land Use and Mobility Elements and the intent of the applicable specific plan area. If the zoning code is consistent with the intent of the proposed specific plan, the zoning code will prevail. If the zoning code is inconsistent with the intent of the proposed specific plan, the applicant will be required to process a planned development zone change. The planned development district will specify the use regulations and development standards to assure consistency with the proposed specific plan.

    The Northwest Commission will be consulted regarding the establishment of specific plans for North Lincoln, including the redevelopment areas, and North Fair Oaks between Washington Boulevard and the northern city boundary.

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