The Riverside County General Plan has been referred to recently in the local news regarding the proposed Diamond Valley Estates development in the Sage area and also mentioned in discussions of new cannabis legislation.
But what exactly is the general plan, and what does that mean for the Anza and Aguanga area? There are many facets to this plan, which include the county’s Land Use Plan, Riverside Extended Mountain Area Plan and the Anza Valley Policy Area guidelines.
The Riverside County Planning Department’s website said, “Riverside County, like a quilt, is a composite of differing lifestyles connected together through common strands. The county’s General Plan is designed to ensure that the quilt retains its core identity by guiding future growth that respects the diversity of the region, shapes and configures development in relation to the land it occupies and ensures that its various parts relate to its whole.”
The county administers the general plan mostly through its zoning ordinance. While the plan identifies land use designations in the long term, zoning identifies specific immediate land uses. The general plan’s success depends on the county’s zoning ordinance updates and consistency in applying it. California state law requires general plan-zoning consistency.
The general plan is driven by its vision statement, which is based on values that provide the foundation for the plan’s goals, policies and actions.
“The people of Riverside County declare that they join together in holding the following values and seeking a community future based on them. It can be argued that our values are optimistic and very ambitious that they require our best instincts to prevail,” according the county’s planning department website.
“A lot of thought and input from a variety of interests has gone into the general plan. It contains a list of guiding principles, which I think we can all embrace. Principles are not things that should be set aside as soon as the first big developer comes along with a fist full of money,” Sage community activist Bill Donahue said.
These guiding principles include population growth, communities and neighborhoods, housing, transportation, conservation and open space resources, air quality, jobs and economy, agricultural lands, educational system, plan integration, financial realities and intergovernmental cooperation.
Anza is specifically identified in the Riverside Extended Mountain Area Plan, or REMAP. The REMAP contains a land use plan, statistical summaries, policies and exhibits. Background information provides insights into the reasons for a more localized policy direction. Other mountain communities are also included in the REMAP, such as Garner Valley, Aguanga, Sage, Lake Riverside Estates, Pinyon Pines, Terwilliger and other small communities within unincorporated Riverside County.
Unincorporated lands are all areas within the county that are not within an incorporated city or Indian nation. Most unincorporated lands are subject to policy direction and are under the authority of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.
The land use plan is designed to preserve the unique features in the REMAP and to guide future growth. More detailed land use designations are applied than for the countywide general plan, using 20 area plan land-use designations, which provide more detailed direction than the five General Plan Foundation Component land uses.
These designations are definitions for agriculture, rural residential, rural mountainous, rural desert, rural community, open space, community development and certain overlays – community development, rural village, rural village study area, historic district, specific community development designation and policy areas.
These definitions are designed to maintain the look and feel of the rural areas and guide growth and development to conform to the plan. Each community in Riverside is identified as unique, including incorporated cities, unincorporated communities, new communities and tribal lands. Open space, transportation corridors, employment bases and land suitable for development fit into future expansion of cities, creation of new communities and in the case of small communities, preservation of rural enclaves.
Anza is governed by the Anza Valley Policy Area. In 2005, a series of community meetings were held in Anza by the Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council to develop a community statement of the valley’s identity, lifestyles and future development needs. This statement was called the Anza Vision and Goals and was endorsed by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, Feb. 28, 2006.
According the document, “Anza shall continue to develop as a rural community that fosters a safe lifestyle and promotes the feel and sociability of a small ranch town.”
The policies address community land uses and infrastructure issues in the Anza Valley Policy Area.
Therefore, REMAP 1.1 – 1.3 said, “In recognition of the history of the Anza area and the lifestyles of the residents of the Anza Valley, promote an overall rural agricultural and ranching ‘small town’ character for the community and promote a high-quality, rural-oriented quality of life for its residents.”
In addition, the policy promotes the viability of existing rural lifestyles and development of rural residences, ranches and farms, while providing for an adequate range of housing options to meet the needs of residents’ ages, incomes and styles of living.
Other community design guidelines include provisions for some on-street parking, a road system to provide good access throughout the community, “dark skies” lighting standards, a “ranch” style architectural theme, the avoidance of walls and gated communities, the preservation of streams and other natural features, the use of contour grading in hilly and mountainous areas and the protection of places important in the history and prehistory of the community.
Water is a major concern in the Anza Valley and is addressed in the policy as well. The goals are to manage Anza Valley’s finite groundwater supply, to monitor water quality, to obtain grants and funding for groundwater studies and to measure groundwater levels and quantity. Additionally the policy calls for water conservation, recycling and the encouragement of drought-tolerant landscaping.
The policy also moves to promote Anza Valley’s potential as a “destination hub,” offering rural recreation and redevelopment of blighted properties in compliance with the “ranch-themed” architectural standards, the development of community service facilities and supporting infrastructure.
AVMAC is an important link to the county supervisors. The members of the AVMAC board are connected to the county government in a way that is not possible by an individual. They are well-versed in the Anza policy area, county general plan and the REMAP land use plans, yet are open to any discussion of issues or new ideas, which they can then convey to 3rd District Supervisor Chuck Washington.
These county plans strive to preserve the flavor of the Anza Valley, while allowing for controlled growth. As an agricultural community, it is vitally important to have potential growth restrictions spelled out in the various documents.
To discover more, visit the Riverside County Planning Department’s website at http://planning.rctlma.org/ZoningInformation/GeneralPlan.aspx.
To contact Washington’s office, call (951) 955-1030 or visit http://supervisorchuckwashington.com.
For more information about the AVMAC, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AnzaValleyMAC.