In December 2009, the Alliance conducted an online survey to ask local governments what assistance and tools are most needed to help create more environmentally sustainable (or “Green”) General Plans.
There were 101 responses to the Green General Plan survey. Respondents included planning directors or other representatives from 64 cities and 9 counties in California. This corresponds to 13.4% and 15.5% of the state’s incorporated cities and counties, respectively, with jurisdictions covering approximately 35% of the state’s total population. There were also 28 responses from various other stakeholders including consultants, planning commissioners, and community representatives.
Assistance or tools currently utilized by respondents include modeling or inventorying tools, review of other jurisdictions’ Green General Plans, informational websites, workshops, and input from both community members and expert consultants. However, very few respondents find their existing tools to be highly effective.
When asked what type of new assistance or tools would be most effective, the most common responses were a checklist of key sustainable policies, model General Plans and policy language, and development of a Green General Plan guidebook. Respondents frequently stated that assistance or tools would provide value to local governments by helping to ensure compliance with California laws and by conserving staff resources, with over half of respondents indicating that there was a strong likelihood that they would utilize such assistance or tools.
Planners did, however, express concern about the nature of any assistance or tools provided to them. They indicated that these resources would need to be developed to specifically address local government needs: aiding in compliance with regulation; providing concrete examples and policy language leading to actual implementation; easy to use; cost-effective; and customizable to local priorities.
Demonstrating the high value local governments place on improving their planning processes, 22% of respondents expressed interest in working with the Alliance as it develops new tools to help green General Plans. An additional 60% requested to be kept apprised of the efforts of the California Sustainability Alliance. The Alliance plans to invite these and other stakeholders to workshops commencing in mid-2010.
Following is a more detailed discussion of the survey results.
- Would you be interested in assistance or tools developed to help green your General Plan?
- How likely is it that you and your staff would use assistance or tools in your General Plan?
- What assistance or tools do you currently use to help green your general plan?
- How effective is the assistance/ tools that you now use?
- What assistance or tools would be most effective in helping you green your General Plan?
- Other respondent comments