Ventura County General Plan Update Options and Work Program

By Sheryl Hamlin

At the September 22, 2015 Ventura County Supervisors meeting, agenda item 32 represented an important milestone in the General Plan update:


The agenda item brought the supervisors to consider two alternatives to the Work Program for the General Plan Update. The work plans represent two extensive sets of tasks spread over two different timeframes involving county staff, consultants, federal mandates, state mandates, citizen input and existing laws and plans. The scope of the new General Plan will cover two decades: 2020 through 2040.

This effort will involve analysis of the entire unincorporated county of Ventura, except for the coast, which is covered under a different plan. However, the planners will be coordinating with cities, such as Santa Paula, who are also updating their General Plans during the same time frame, according to Kim Prillhart, Director Resource Management Agency.

Arriving at General Plan Update Work Program alternatives has been a 6-7 month process, according to Jim Harnish, principle of MintierHarnish Planning Consultants, whose firm has crafted twelve county General Plans.  The meetings and public interactions which have brought the process to this point are shown below and are taken from the MintierHarnish presentation to the Board of Supervisors on September 22, 2015. To view the full presentation, click here.


The two options under consideration were a 4 ½ to 5 year schedule, and its associated tasks, versus a 3 ½ year schedule with its associated tasks. The recommended, longer schedule included more public engagements, more policy options, integration of area plans into the General Plan, focused land use planning (comprehensive land use planning had been previously eliminated), while the shorter timeframe eliminated these items. The costs were not hugely different because some tasks were simply deferred rather than eliminated. However, Mr. Harnish stated that concurrent process of the Zoning ordinances, wildlife corridor and housing elements would increase the synergy.

From Ms. Prillhart’s management letter, the General Plan Update recommendation includes:

“…The recommended work program (Exhibit 1) reflects a comprehensive update that includes three optional elements (water, agriculture, and economic development), and inclusion of several contemporary topics (healthy communities, sustainability, and climate change)…”

Agricultural focused Economic Development topics could include the following:

  • Agricultural Base Diversification
  • Agricultural Industry Growth
  • Agricultural Tourism and Ecotourism Development and Promotion
  • Local Agriculture Promotion
  • High Value Agricultural Industries
  • On-Site Product Sales
  • Certified Farmers Markets
  • Produce Stands
  • Food Hubs & Local Farmer-Consumer Connections


Supervisor Parks was concerned about shortening the time to produce the Wildlife Corridor Plan, so she was leaning to the shorter plan.  Christopher Stephens, Resource Management Agency Director, suggested a compromise of including the Wildlife Corridor in the longer plan, but reconsidering its removal in November when they next meet with more details from Ms. Prillhart’s planners who could possibly include this separately in their long range work.

Supervisor Zaragosa was concerned about all citizen communication occurring in the MACs (Municipal Advisory Councils) saying that some like his area have Neighborhood Councils rather than a MAC.


Supervisor John Zaragosa


Supervisor Linda Parks








Comparing the timeframes, Mr. Harnish said that county plans are more complex from a communication and geographic standpoint and that county plans usually take 5 years while municipal plans are shorter. The cost comparison of the longer versus the shorter schedules is shown here and is taken from the MintierHarnish presentation.


Two speakers, Lynn Jensen of Ventura County Colab and David Magnum, spoke in public comments.

Supervisor Bennett emphasized that a firm date is better than a moving target in order to give the project a “sense of urgency”, so he suggested rather than the 4 ½ to 5 year timeline for the project, it precisely be finished by “Summer 2020”.  The recommended option of the longer scheduled and its tasks became the modified motion which all approved by voice vote. The motion directs the Planning Department to craft an RFP for the General Plan Update which will be presented in December of 2015.

Supervisor Bennett

Supervisor Bennett

For previous reports on this topic click here.

Prior to this agenda item was the presentation of the Saticoy Area Plan update, which is an excellent, high quality example of an Area Plan. Item 31 can be viewed here. It is these types of area plans which will be incorporated into the General Plan Update process in a consistent manner.


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