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Other Local Plans

HN Online Guide

Cities and counties can also adopt community plans for specific neighborhoods or districts where issues of health, physical activity or nutrition are particularly important. Community plans are part of the general plan and allow a city or county to concentrate on the most salient issues, such as health, and develop planning strategies and actions best suited for specific communities. This can avoid the time and expense involved in revising or updating the general plan as a whole.

Unlike general plans, specific plans are optional. They are flexible planning tools often used for larger areas, such as a downtown or a major transportation corridor, to encourage comprehensive planning. While not technically a part of the general plan as are community plans, specific plans must be consistent with the general plan.

The general plan and other local plans can be used in a variety of ways to create healthier neighborhoods. Two of the most important are increasing access to parks and improving the environment for walking and bicycling.

Steps to increase access to parks include the following:

  • Local plans can establish enhanced development standards pertaining to park dedications, the size of neighborhood parks and their proximity to residences.

Steps to improve the walking and bicycling environment include the following:

  • Many neighborhoods are designed with circuitous streets and cul-de-sacs that limit people’s ability to reach places conveniently on foot or by bicycle. Local plans can require that new developments are served by interconnected grids or networks of local streets. Dispersing traffic throughout a network of connected streets can give drivers many options for moving through the neighborhood and ensure that particular local streets are not overburdened by heavy traffic volumes.
  • Many neighborhoods are isolated from one another by boundaries of arterial streets with few points of access and high traffic speeds and volume. Local plans can include policies and actions to provide sidewalks and bicycle routes to connect formerly isolated neighborhoods. Many local agencies have developed a Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan to guide long-term planning and capital improvements.
  • Local plans can encourage or require new developments to include facilities that  serve pedestrians and bicyclists, such as landscaped walkways through parking lots and secure parking for bicycles as well as autos.

The Institute offers a series of tip sheets on land use decisions, available in both English and Spanish.  Access About Specific Plans, using the link below, which explains:

  1. What a “specific plan” is
  2. How specific plans fit into efforts to shape communities
  3. How to participate in the decision-making process

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