How We’re Planning for the Environment
When planning for our future, we must do so in a way that helps implement the City’s Climate Action Plan and creates a more livable, sustainable future for all of us.
Some examples of planning strategies to achieve this vision include incentivizing development in areas near transit, increasing public spaces and connection points that allow residents to walk, bike, roll or take transit, and delivering climate-resilient infrastructure like trees, bike lanes, and shaded and safe public spaces. The City Planning Department also engages in open space conservation to preserve our local network of habitat and open space, protecting wildlife and improving our quality of life.
Learn more below about our planning initiatives that help support healthy, environment-friendly communities.
Initiatives in Progress
What we're working on now to preserve the environment
De Anza Natural is the De Anza Cove Amendment to the Mission Bay Park Master Plan. De Anza Natural plans for a balance of local and regional recreational needs while restoring natural habitats and preparing for the impacts of climate change. De Anza Natural envisions enhanced recreational activities in the area with new facilities, such as a multi-use waterfront trail and a small non-motorized boat lease area for the cove.
Equity Forward is a comprehensive approach to creating a more equitable, healthy and enjoyable place for all San Diegans. The evolving policies, plans and processes under Equity Forward will create more equitable opportunities and investments in San Diego. By acknowledging the effects of policy decisions that have resulted in inequitable outcomes, Equity Forward will leverage the diversity of voices in our city to benefit all San Diegans.
Environmental Justice means ensuring people of all races, cultures and incomes are equally and equitably valued, protected and served by laws, regulations and policies that impact the environment around us, including those about buildings and uses of land, transportation, parks and natural spaces, the urban landscape and City services. The Planning Department is working with community members to identify neighborhoods disproportionately affected by environmental justice concerns and to develop Environmental Justice goals, policies and objectives. Once drafted, the Environmental Justice goals, policies and objectives will be incorporated into the City of San Diego General Plan.
With housing costs rising due in part to the scarcity of homes in San Diego, Blueprint SD will include an amendment to the General Plan to include policies to encourage more home production in areas that can best help us achieve our climate action goals and facilitate transit, bicycle and pedestrian connections. These policies will be applied as part of ongoing and future community plan updates and other land use planning initiatives.
What we're working on year-round to preserve the environment
Climate Resilient SD is a plan to prepare our communities for the impacts of climate change, including extreme heat, wildfires, flooding, drought and sea level rise. This plan lays the foundation for a greener, healthier, and enjoyable city, with a focus on frontline communities that will bear the largest burden of extreme weather in San Diego.
Biodiverse SD preserves a network of habitat and open space, protecting species and ecosystems that enhance our quality of life. Biodiverse SD includes the City’s Multiple Species Conservation Program which protects 85 species and delineates core biological resource areas to ensure long-term habitat conservation and the preservation of natural vegetation communities. Biodiverse SD also includes the City’s Vernal Pool Habitat Conservation Program which provides an effective framework to protect, enhance and restore vernal pool resources within the City.
The purpose of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is to inform government decision-makers and the public about the potentially significant environmental effects of proposed activities and to prevent significant, avoidable damage to the environment. The CEQA Policy and Review team reviews City plans, public projects and other actions under CEQA for potential environmental impacts. The team also prepares environmental documents and works with public project applicants and stakeholders to ensure that all feasible mitigation measures or alternatives are incorporated to reduce adverse impacts to the environment.
The City of San Diego's General Plan is the comprehensive guide for development, providing policy guidance to address the needs of a growing city while enhancing quality of life for current and future San Diegans over the next 20 to 30 years. This comprehensive plan is the foundation upon which all land use decisions in the City are based. It addresses how to allow for more homes, provide convenient and sustainable transportation options, preserve the environment, ensure high-quality public facilities and services and support the local economy. The General Plan includes the City of Villages strategy which focuses growth into mixed-use villages activity centers that are pedestrian-friendly districts, of different scales, linked to the regional transit system.
Historical resource preservation benefits communities through policies that stabilize neighborhoods, promote cultural heritage tourism and contribute to a vibrant, diverse and dynamic urban landscape. Preservation and rehabilitation of historic buildings benefit the environment by conserving the energy embodied by existing buildings rather than expending additional energy for demolition and new construction. These benefits include a reduction in the consumption of natural resources for building materials and a reduction in landfill waste.
Recent Initiatives Approved by City Council
Recent Initiatives Approved by City Council
As part of the Mayor’s Our Climate, Our Future initiative, the Climate Action Plan Consistency Regulations will ensure new development is consistent with the City’s Climate Action Plan, which is currently being developed by the Sustainability and Mobility Department. Proposed regulations for new development include enhancing tree coverage and ensuring that development contributes to an active and healthy transportation environment to create a more sustainable future for all San Diegans.
Complete Communities: Mobility Choices ensures that new developments support investments that make it safer and easier for San Diegans to walk, bike and spend time outside. This ordinance requires builders of new homes, offices and shops to invest in infrastructure like better walkways, shade trees and transit stop upgrades to reduce the car trips, which will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support cleaner air for all. At least 50% of new funds for this safe transportation infrastructure will be located in traditionally underserved communities where the needs are the greatest.
Spaces as Places is the City of San Diego's comprehensive program to allow permanent outdoor dining and other community gathering spaces within areas of the public right of way. Established regulations and a design manual offer a menu of options to create outdoor areas for dining, walking, biking, public art, education, entertainment and other activities.