File #: 2019-0427   
Type: Regular Calendar Item Status: Agenda Ready
File created: 3/21/2019 In control: Permit and Resource Management
On agenda: 4/16/2019 Final action:
Title: Comprehensive Planning Work Plan for FY 18/19, FY 19/20, FY 20/21
Department or Agency Name(s): Permit and Resource Management
Attachments: 1. Comp Plan Work Plan Summary Report.pdf, 2. Comp Plan Work Plan Attachment A.pdf, 3. Comp Plan Work Plan Attachment B Community Comments.pdf, 4. PowerPoint
Related files: 2019-0732

To: Board of Supervisors

Department or Agency Name(s): Permit Sonoma

Staff Name and Phone Number: Milan Nevajda x2336 Jane Riley x7388

Vote Requirement: Majority

Supervisorial District(s): Countywide




Comprehensive Planning Work Plan for FY 18/19, FY 19/20, FY 20/21



Recommended Actions:

Recommended action

Discuss, prioritize and provide direction to staff on the Comprehensive Planning Work Plan for FY 18/19, FY 19/20 and FY 20/21



Executive Summary:

The Comprehensive Planning Division is responsible for the development, implementation of the General Plan, Local Coastal Plan, Zoning Code, all Specific and Area Plans, and other policy documents and initiatives as directed by the Board of Supervisors. Because legal planning mandates and community planning needs exceed available resources, priorities must be established through the Work Plan.


The Comprehensive Planning Work Plan represents the definitive list of County planning priorities for two fiscal years.  The Board approved the last Work Plan for 17/18 and 18/19 in June of 2017. Staff is bringing a new Work Plan at this time that includes the current fiscal year (18/19) in order to address delayed projects and new priorities arising as a result of the 2017 Sonoma Complex Fires through to FY 20/21. Staff has completed many of the projects identified in the last Work Plan, while many other projects are ongoing.


This report provides an overview of the Comprehensive Planning Division’s workload, the actions that have been undertaken since approval of the last two-year Work Plan, and a proposed new Work Plan for FY 18/19, FY 19/20 and FY 20/21. The report is divided into four components:


                     Labor allocations and customer service;

                     Ongoing programs;

                     Existing priority projects; and

                     Possible new initiatives and programs.


Resources in the Work Plan for the remainder of the current FY 2018/2019 are fully committed to ongoing and priority projects, as approved by the Board in the prior Work Plan. Once work on existing priority projects has been completed, increasing staff hours will become available in fiscal years 19/20 and 20/21 which the Board could direct in several ways:

                     Commit to further work on existing initiatives;

                     Assign to assist the file processing backlog in the Planning - Project Review division;

                     Assign to work on the General Plan update; and/or

                     Assign to other projects as directed by the Board.



The Comprehensive Planning Work Plan updates the prior two-year Work Plan that directed planning activities to June 30, 2019.  The updated Work Plan identifies labor allocations to complete priority planning projects that are currently underway, and additional resources needed to complete amendments to the Development Code and to initiate the General Plan update.


Resources in the Work Plan for the remainder of FY 2018/2019 are fully committed to ongoing and priority projects, as approved by the Board in the prior Work Plan. Limited resources are expected to become available during the latter part of FY 2019/2020 and into FY 2020/2021 to undertake additional work as existing projects are completed.

Comprehensive Planning Work Plan

In 1997, the Board of Supervisors established a process of reviewing a Work Plan for prioritizing planning programs carried out by the Permit and Resource Management Department (Permit Sonoma) Comprehensive Planning team. Work is typically assigned to the Comprehensive Planning team in one of three ways: through the Work Plan, adoption of a Resolution of Intention by the Board of Supervisors, or through a Minute Order. Most Comprehensive Planning assignments are identified through the Work Plan. It has been standard practice that the Comprehensive Planning Section retain approximately 15% of staff hours in the Work Plan as a reserve to allow Permit Sonoma to respond to pressing long-range planning assignments that may be assigned outside of the Work Plan (e.g. urgent ordinance updates or grant-awarded projects that require Staff oversight). Due to the long term nature of the comprehensive planning programs, the Work Plan has been generally reviewed by the Board every two years to establish new priorities. The most recent two-year Work Plan was approved in June 2017, setting priorities for implementation from FY 17/18 through 18/19. Many of the projects that were outlined in the 2017 work plan are still underway, including the Springs and Airport Area Specific Plans, the Local Coastal Plan Update, the Development Code Update (Phase I) and Winery Events policies. Many projects have been delayed by the October 2017 fires, other Board priorities, and staff vacancies.

The Comprehensive Planning team provides daily customer service through the planner phone service, the general planner email, working the front planning counter, and working the dedicated service counter for accessory dwelling units. Additional responsibilities of the Comprehensive Planning team include:


                     Implementation of the existing General Plan’s policies and programs;

                     Monitoring and management of the County’s housing programs;

                     Preparation of the mandatory Annual Report on General Plan Implementation;

                     Preparation of required reporting for the Department of Finance;

                     Conducting General Plan consistency determinations for public projects;

                     Acting as staff liaison on transportation, housing, and other regional planning issues;

                     Assisting other County departments and agencies with planning programs, staffing the Division’s various boards and commissions, in rotation with the Project Review section (Airport Land Use Commission, Landmarks, etc.);

                     Working on new planning initiatives as identified by the Board, such as various Specific Plan efforts; and

                     Providing community outreach and staff support for a variety of adopted programs, including accessory dwelling units and vacation rentals.


Comprehensive Planning staff track all hours allocated to assigned projects, customer service activities, administration, and other office functions. Due to increasing numbers of complex planning project applications in the Planning Division and the implementation of new, complex programs such as cannabis, the Comprehensive Planning team has assumed a greater share of the Planning Division’s customer service functions (telephone, front counter service, email coverage, and meetings), especially in providing staffing to the front counter. During FY 16/17 these roles comprised approximately 30% of the Comprehensive Planning Team’s total available staff hours; in the last fiscal year, these duties have increased to 37% of the total available staff hours due to increased activity in the permit center and to staff vacancies. The Planning Project Review team spends a similar 38% of available staff hours on customer service duties.

Planning Projects Completed since last Work Plan:

Since the Board approved the last Comprehensive Planning Work Plan in 2017, the following planning initiatives that were envisioned by the Work Plan have been completed:


                     Zoning code updates for housing, including provisions for new types of housing;

                     Adoption and implementation of two Cannabis Ordinances;

                     Sonoma County Hazard Mitigation Plan Update with County Emergency Services;

                     Administrative Draft of the Springs Specific Plan and EIR (grant project);

                     Internal working draft of Phase I of the Development Code Update;

                     Freestone Rezoning to align with General Plan policies; and

                     Zoning code amendments for Agricultural Farmstays, Marketing Accommodations and Vacation Rentals on Agricultural Lands


Additional work using the 15% Work Plan contingency fund has been completed since the last Work Plan was approved, as follows:


                     Urgency ordinances related to housing and other recovery activities in the aftermath of the 2017 Sonoma Complex Fire;

                     Rezone to add X Vacation Rental Exclusion Combining Zone in specified areas;

                     General Plan and Zoning Amendments for fire rebuilds in the G Zone;

                     Zoning code update to allow larger Accessory Dwelling Units, and reduced fees; and

                     Coastal Sea Level Rise Mapping and Adaptation Planning (grant project).


In addition to completing the above projects, the Comprehensive Planning Division has continued work on several existing multi-year priority projects, including the following:


                     Community outreach on the Airport Area Specific Plan (grant project);

                     Ongoing assistance with housing applications;

                     Initiation of a project to rezone urban sites for housing; 

                     Obtained grant to continue progress on the Draft Local Coastal Plan;

                     Continued work on the winery event policies; and

                     Review of scenic protections in the 4th District (not envisioned in 2017 Work Plan).


Overview of proposed Comprehensive Planning Work Plan for FY 2018/2019, FY 2019/2020 and FY 2020/2021


Labor Allocations. The first step in developing the Work Plan is determining the amount of staff resources available for various program activities. Labor allocations vary each year depending on a number of factors, including total number of staff, volume and backlog of planning applications submitted for review, and demand for services to other county departments. Certain projects have and will directly raise legal issues, and require significant resources from the Office of County Counsel. Likewise, the majority of the policy initiatives undertaken by the Comprehensive Planning Division create significant demands on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) staff and on the Department’s public information staff.


The Comprehensive Planning team currently consists of one Supervising Planner and six professional Planners. The Section is overseen by the Comprehensive Planning Manager and is supported by one secretary. The Section’s overall allocation of labor hours during the last fiscal (FY 17/18) was as follows:


Table 1: General Allocation of Comprehensive Planning Section Labor Hours, FY 17/18

Basic Fixed Costs of Operating + Ongoing Programs


Current Staff Hours

          Customer Service & Project Review Support



          Ongoing Programs, Referrals and Reporting



General Plan Program Implementation & Policy Initiatives



                                                  Total Allocation



Total allocation includes approx. 1200 Extra Help staff hours

As shown in Table 1 above, about half of the Comp Planning Section’s labor hours (51 percent) were allocated to the basic fixed costs of operating the ongoing programs and customer service functions of the division. The remaining half (49 percent) of labor is generally available to support ongoing planning programs to implement the General Plan, and to carry out other policy initiatives as directed by the Board.

County Counsel Hours. For 18/19 County Counsel allocates approximately 2000 hours of attorney time to support all of the County’s comprehensive planning work including cannabis code updates.  This translates to roughly one hour of attorney time for every three hours of staff time to bring an initiative to conclusion, depending on controversy and legal complexity.   However, presently, County Counsel has one less land use attorney than during the last two fiscal years.  If counsel staffing remains unchanged during the proposed work plan timeframe, a portion of counsel’s available hours for comprehensive planning support, including cannabis, may be diverted to support project review or other Permit Sonoma divisions.


Given the backlog of planning applications that await processing, a higher percentage of the Comprehensive Planning Section’s labor hours will continue to be devoted to the customer service and project review support functions of the Planning Division so Project Review Section planners can devote more hours to processing the application backlog. The backlog is caused by a number of factors, including a reshuffling of priorities after the fires and high staff turnover. The Planning Division saw ten retirements or resignations over the last 18 months, equating to a turnover rate among planners and support staff of almost 50%. As these experienced employees have retired or moved on to other opportunities, those positions have remained vacant until recruitments can be completed. Recruitment of experienced planners has proven difficult, and the need to train new, less experienced staff has placed an additional strain on staff who already carry a file load that is much higher than optimal. The need for Comprehensive Planning Division staff resources to support more of the customer service functions of the Planning Division will continue to be necessary through at least the current fiscal year.  Staff vacancies also require that remaining staff pick up more of the customer service functions of the front office and cover for vacation and sick hours, which further reduces their available time to complete projects.

Attachment A provides the proposed Comprehensive Planning Work Plan spreadsheet for the current and upcoming fiscal years. The spreadsheet shows that there are no unallocated hours available for new initiatives or projects during Fiscal 2018/2019. However, should some of the existing priority projects and grant projects be completed during fiscal 18/19 as planned, there should be staff resources available in fiscal 19/20 to support initiation of new priority projects as determined by the Board. 

The Comprehensive Planning Section’s ongoing programs and its existing priority projects continuing through fiscal 18/19 are discussed below. These are followed by a discussion of possible new initiatives for fiscal 19/20 for the Board’s consideration. There are not sufficient resources to do all of the good work needed in our communities and priorities will need to be established. Should the Board wish to support additional new initiatives during the 2-year Comp Work Plan, they will need to either eliminate or delay completion of existing priority projects or defer the start of any new initiatives until after completion of existing priority projects. Possible new initiatives are listed at the bottom of Attachment A for the Board’s consideration and prioritization. It is noted that each initiative brought through the Planning Commission and to the Board with legally-required public hearings requires a minimum of about 300 staff hours; the addition of a more robust public outreach process with multiple community meetings would require significantly more staff time. Up to 1,640 staff hours are expected to become available in the second half of 19/20, which would allow work on two new major policy initiatives or up to five typical comprehensive planning initiatives. An estimated 2,265 hours will be available in FY 20/21 as existing projects are completed (this hourly estimation would potentially be impacted by Work Plan assignments that the Board provides). Permit Sonoma is currently in recruitment for two staff planners, one which is anticipated to fill a Comprehensive Planning vacancy. Should the Department be successful in securing a qualified candidate, this would provide an additional 1,000 to 1,200 hours of the full 1,500 FTE to serve project-related functions in the Comprehensive Planning Division.


The section below outlines the programs in the Work Plan, by category.


A. Ongoing Programs: Ongoing Programs are those that the Comprehensive Planning team is responsible for staffing on an ongoing basis, including all required reporting, serving as liaison to multiple agencies, and performing General Plan consistency reviews for public projects. The majority of the Section’s ongoing program work relates directly to the implementation of General Plan 2020. The team also assists with staffing the multiple planning customer service functions and provides staff support of the various committees and commissions on a rotating basis with the Project Review Section. Comprehensive Planning staff from the housing team regularly meet with housing applicants and potential housing applicants to advise and facilitate the submittal of applications for housing developments. The team also staffs a dedicated Accessory Dwelling Unit planner and planning counter to provide over-the-counter approvals of accessory dwelling units and assistance to owners who are considering building one.


Ongoing programs are primarily funded through the General Fund, although the housing program is funded in part with Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT) housing set aside revenues and several longer-range projects have received grant funding.


B. Existing Priority Projects:  As noted above, many of the major policy initiatives directed by the Board in the 2017 Work Plan including the Airport Specific Plan, the Zoning Code Update, and the Local Coastal Plan Update were delayed due to the October fires and subsequent recovery efforts, as well as staff turnover and an increased role in the customer service functions of the Planning Section. The Comprehensive Planning Section’s existing priority projects are large, complex undertakings that have required extensive public outreach and inter-agency coordination, and will continue to require significant staff hours in the remainder of FY 18/19 and, in many cases, into FY 19/20. The following discussion provides an update of each of these projects with a projected timeline for completion.


Development Code Phase I. The current zoning code, originally drafted in 1968, is outdated and cumbersome, resulting in confusion, delays and inconsistencies in its application. Phase I of the new Development Code does not include any substantive code changes, but instead has restructured the code into a more user-friendly format and integrated the county’s procedures in a more streamlined manner. This reform will help the public in navigating the code, resolving conflicting requirements and procedures and easing staff workload in interpreting outdated language. An Administrative Draft of the new format is currently in beta testing with staff. The completed draft will be presented to the Planning Commission in the summer 2019.

A second phase of the Code update that involves developing use provisions and standards to further streamline and reduce processing times is a new initiative that may begin in fiscal 19/20 with the Board’s direction. The final phase of the Development Code Update, which would include any significant policy changes, would not be carried out until after the General Plan Update so that consistency between the Plan and the implementing Zoning Ordinance is assured.

Springs Area Specific Plan. The Administrative Drafts of the Specific Plan and the Environmental Impact report have been prepared and are under review. Public review and hearings will take place this summer, with adoption anticipated this winter.


Airport Area Specific Plan. The Airport Area Specific Plan project was delayed due to a shift in staff resources to recovery efforts such as housing and seismic safety zone legislation. Work on the Specific Plan restarted in February 2019 with the release of a draft land use and circulation scenario and Water Supply Assessment in coordination with the Windsor Water District. An Administrative Draft of the Specific Plan and Environmental Impact Report is being developed with public hearings and final adoption expected in spring, 2020.


The Local Coastal Plan (LCP). The Sonoma Coast has a General Plan separate from inland areas, referred to as the Local Coastal Plan (LCP). The LCP update is focused on a limited range of issues including public access, water quality, biotic resources, public safety, and climate change adaptation. The California Coastal Commission must review and certify the LCP before it becomes effective and Commission staff has taken a very active and detailed role in the LCP amendment process. A Draft Local Coastal Plan is expected to be made available for public review in summer of 2019, after which a third round of public outreach meetings in coastal communities will be held. This work will continue into fiscal year 19/20 with a projected County adoption date of March, 2020. Because the law requires that zoning be consistent with General Plans, the Coastal Zoning will need to be amended directly after adoption of the LCP in order to provide consistency. This effort is expected to continue throughout 2020 and into 2021.

Cannabis. In April 2018, the Board directed staff to make amendments to the existing Cannabis Land Use Ordinance in two phases. In October 2018, the Board adopted amendments including adult use/recreational, harmonization with state law, and further restricting cannabis uses with a new minimum lot size. The second set of amendments, which will focus on neighborhood compatibility and the more complex amendments needed to address changes in state law, have not started but could begin as soon as July 2019 if prioritized by the Board.  Staff are currently focused on processing the current backlog of cannabis applications so that adequate operational data is available to inform the next set of amendments. 


Housing Initiatives. Comprehensive Planning staff are undertaking a number of housing initiatives to provide new opportunities for housing, to protect existing rental housing stock, and to zone additional sites within urban service areas for housing. The first in the set of initiatives to remove constraints to housing, including accessory dwelling units, was adopted in May 2018 and is in effect. A second set of code amendments to promote and facilitate new types of housing was adopted in October of 2018 and is in effect. A third initiative to identify and rezone appropriate urban sites for housing has been initiated and will continue through November 2019.


Removal of Z (Accessory Unit Exclusion) Combining Zone from Ag Parcels Countywide. As directed by the General Plan Housing Element, staff have undertaken a comprehensive analysis of agriculturally-zoned parcels that have the Z Overlay prohibiting accessory dwelling units with the objective of removing the Z where possible. Criterion have been established to protect the environment and a final analysis is underway. The project is expected to conclude in July 2019 with removal of the Z Overlay from potentially hundreds of parcels countywide.


Winery Event Policies.  In October 2016, following a 7 month events working group process, the Board directed staff to focus on new community driven standards in Sonoma Valley and Westside Road/Dry Creek and to develop county-wide definitions for winery event policy. Work continued on the project into 2017 but was delayed due to the October fires. Traffic and Noise studies are underway and nearly completed to inform the process.  Additional work has been done by the Dry Creek Valley Citizens Advisory Council and additional work is expected in the two other areas of local concentration in Sonoma Valley and Westside Road. The definitions and the policy are expected to come forward once these local community groups complete their recommendations.

Scenic Landscape Unit Rezonings. As a result of the adoption of the expanded Community Separators, staff must apply the Scenic Landscape Unit (SLU) designation to hundreds of parcels within the 4th District. An expanded visual analysis is currently being prepared, and work on this project is expected to be completed in June 2019.


General Plan Update. Sonoma County’s General Plan contains seven mandatory topical chapters, or elements, as well as an Agricultural Resources Element (adopted in 1989) Air Transportation Element and a Water Element (adopted in 2008). Recent statutory changes for General Plans now require the addition of an Environmental Justice Element and an Air Quality Element before the next Housing Element due date in 2023. Substantial changes to the Circulation Elements are also expected to address new CEQA requirements to analyze Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) instead of the old standard of Level of Service (LOS). The Board may also wish to add additional elements to reflect Sonoma County’s unique attributes and challenges, such as resiliency. A General Plan Update workshop will be held with the Board at a future hearing date to discuss the scope of the Update and the County’s procedure for undertaking the effort.

The primary challenge with initiating and completing the General Plan Update is the source of funding. Staff estimates that a General Plan Update would cost somewhat more than the 2008 estimate of $6 million because of increased requirements for General Plans, including a new Environmental Justice Element and potentially a new Air Quality Element. Of the estimated $6-$7 million needed to update the General Plan, 50% is expected to be funded through the General Fund and the remainder would be funded through a dedicated General Plan Administrative Fee Fund. In 2008 the County adopted a General Plan Administration Fee on new development to partially fund the implementation and update of the General Plan, and related planning documents including the Housing Element, Local Coastal Plan, and the Development Code. The Plan Administration Fee Analysis (February 28, 2008) assumed future General Plan Update and Implementation costs of just over $6 million. This includes costs incurred for scoping a General Plan Update, conducting the Update with support from a consultant, and General Plan implementation that covers follow-up Ordinance updates, development of any planning tools identified in the General Plan Update, and legal counsel through each of these subtasks. Half of the anticipated $6-7 million in costs are associated with the Update and the remainder are associated with implementing the Update. Thus, the General Plan Update is anticipated to be $3.5 million to $3.75 million, with 50% of the funding provided through the General Plan Admin Fee ($1.75M - $1.875M) , and the remainder funded through the General Fund. The current General Plan Admin Fund balance is just under $1 million, which is short of the estimated $1.75 million + necessary to fund 50% of the General Plan Update. The Fund is accruing an average of $430,000 per year, all of which is currently consumed by current projects and staffing. Thus, funding for the portion of the General Plan Update not covered by the General Fund would need to be determined unless the General Plan Administration Fund’s resources currently dedicated to comprehensive planning projects and staffing are redirected. Given current fiscal constraints and limited availability of staff resources, staff recommends that the General Plan Update be suspended until such time that current projects are completed to allow the General Plan Fund to build a balance or to identify and secure alternative funding sources, such as from grants. Legally, the current General Plan does not expire and all of its existing policies will remain in place and fully effective until the next update has been adopted. The only General Plan Element with a mandated completion date is the Housing Element, which must be completed by 2023.

C. Possible New Initiatives for Consideration and Prioritization


As existing priority projects are completed, allocated staff and counsel hours will become available to address new initiatives. Ideally, staff resources would be sufficient to continue all of the Comprehensive Planning Section’s ongoing programs, complete its existing priority projects, and initiate the General Plan Update while undertaking limited new policy initiatives that match the Board’s priorities. While all available staff hours in fiscal 18/19 are allocated to ongoing programs and existing priority projects, several priority projects are expected to be completed in early fiscal 19/20. Assuming that existing staffing levels remain consistent and that staff turnover is minimal, limited staff hours should become available during fiscal 19/20 to undertake new initiatives that may include the General Plan Update.


As a general rule, the initiation of major new policy initiatives brought through the Planning Commission and to the Board with legally-required public hearings requires approximately 300 staff hours per year. More robust efforts involving expanded community engagement or deeper technical analyses require significantly more staff time. Based on labor allocations under the current work plan, County Counsel estimates future attorney hours needed to support comprehensive planning initiatives under the proposed work plan are a third of planning staff time for those initiatives, depending on legal complexity.  If additional funding sources are identified to expand the amount of unallocated staff resources that can be spent on new initiatives, resources for attendant counsel hours on a 1:3 basis should be included.


If the General Plan Update is not delayed, an estimated 990 staff hours will become available during fiscal 19/20; this amount would allow work on three typical policy initiatives. If the General Plan Update is delayed until fiscal 20/21, as recommended, an estimated 1,640 staff hours would become available during fiscal 19/20, allowing staff to undertake five to six new initiatives until existing initiatives are completed and more staff time is available.


In addition to the General Plan Update, possible new initiatives for the Board’s consideration and prioritization are described below:

                     Geyserville Community Planning Efforts - Scoping and community engagement related to future land use planning in the Geyserville community.

                     X Combining Zone Revisions/Refinements - Ordinance update to further refine the parameters and standards associated with the Short Term Vacation Rental X Combining Zone.

                     Streamlining Planning Processes (Dev. Code Phase 2) - As described above, Phase 2 of the Development Code Update involves substantive adjustments to the Code to improve permit streamlining and clarity in the regulations.

                     Coastal Zoning to Implement LCP (Legal Requirement) - Zoning Ordinance update to incorporate necessary regulations to implement the Coastal Plan update.

                     Phase 2 Cannabis Regulations - The project involves further developing the neighborhood compatibility criteria in the existing cannabis ordinance, incorporating new best practices, and clarify existing requirements.

                     Sonoma Development Center Planning Efforts - On April 5, 2019 the Board held a special meeting and provided direction on a transition plan, including State promised funding for a robust planning effort. The State promised funding is expected to be sufficient to cover the planning work to be undertaken by outside consultants with in-house staff management.

                     SE Santa Rosa/SR Avenue Planning Efforts - Scoping and potential Specific Plan development for the SE Santa Rosa/SR Avenue area.

                     Lower Russian River Area Planning - Scoping and potential Specific Plan development for the Lower Russian River area.

                     Tree Ordinance Update - Ordinance update to refine and enhance existing ordinance standards relating to tree preservation, tree replacement, landscape design, and tree loss mitigation. 


Staff is recommending that the Board prioritize programs in the order listed in the Table. This order allows staff to complete existing priority projects in order to make resources available to undertake new priorities. The Table provides an estimate of staff hours for the current and next fiscal years, recognizing that FY 18/19 is drawing to a close and the hours have already been spent. For multi-year initiatives, estimated staff hours for FY 19/20 and FY 20/21 are also included in the Table. The entries across the top reflect the unallocated staff hours expected to become available to undertake new initiatives:


Table 1: New Initiatives or Programs to Prioritize and Anticipated Staff Hours

Initiatives/Programs that Require Prioritization to FY20/21

FY 18/19

FY 19/20

FY 20/21

     Geyserville Community Planning Efforts**




     X Combining Zone Revisions/Refinements




     Streamlining Planning Processes (Dev. Code Phase 2)




     Coastal Zoning to Implement LCP (Legal Requirement)**




     Phase 2 Cannabis Regulations**




     Sonoma Development Center Planning Efforts**




     SE Santa Rosa/SR Avenue Planning Efforts




     Lower Russian River Area Planning




     Tree Ordinance Update




     General Plan Update - Work Plan, Scope and Contract**




Total of Hours for Identified Initiatives




Available Staff Hours (Attachment A provides more detail)




* denotes projects in the current FY 18/19 to which staff hours have already been billed, generally in research and scoping of long-range projects. For Dev. Code Phase 2, staff has initiated work on the project as part of Dev. Code Phase 1. 

** denotes efforts for which some funding is available or anticipated to become available.

*** Available hours may be impacted by assigned tasks through the Work Plan and ad hoc assignments through FY 19/20. Permit Sonoma is also recruiting an additional Planner. If recruitment is successful, the additional employee would provide an additional 1,500 FTE, of which, 1,000 to 1,200 could be available to assign to Comprehensive Planning projects.


Options and Staff Recommendation


Option 1: Direct staff to complete existing priority projects currently underway and, as staff hours become available, begin new initiatives in the priority order provided in the above Table. Under this Option, the Comprehensive Planning team would complete existing work that is dependent on the General Plan Admin Fee Fund. Upon completing current projects, the Fund will be able to accrue a balance in support of a General Plan Update effort-there is the potential also that current projects (e.g. the Springs and Airport Area Specific Plans) enable increased development and thereby increase the accrual rate for the General Plan Fund. The first 3 new initiatives (Geyserville Community Planning, X Combining Zone Refinement, and Streamlining Planning Processes) have a relatively smaller scope and are therefore prioritized in the Table above so that they are completed within fiscal 19/20, allowing staff resources to shift to the legally required work on the Coastal Zoning Code soon after adoption of the LCP in FY19/20. Additional work on the cannabis regulations (Phase 2) would be delayed until January 2020, allowing the processing of current cannabis applications and the collection of operational data to begin to inform the Phase 2 cannabis work. Planning efforts for the Lower Russian River and the Southeast Santa Rosa areas would be limited to community outreach and identification of plan area boundaries until Area Plans can be developed as a part of the General Plan Update.  Work on the General Plan Update would be delayed until FY 20/21, although some limited community engagement efforts to identify issues and priorities could begin during FY 19/20. This Option would provide the best opportunity for the Fund to accrue resources in support of the General Plan Update effort, allowing the County to undertake the General Plan Update in a focused and well-resourced manner that is most likely to result in a successful planning effort.


Option 2. Direct staff to complete existing priorities but begin work on the General Plan Update during FY 19/20, including community engagement, scoping the update effort and creating a work plan, and preparation of the Request for Proposals (RFP) through contracting for the completion of the Update and the associated Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  Because the majority of staff hours are already allocated to existing priority projects through FY 19/20, selection of this option would delay work on most “new initiatives” until at least FY 20/21. In this Option, additional funding for the General Plan Update would need to be identified.


Staff Recommendation. Staff recommends that the Board chose Option 1 and:

1) Hear public input on the Comp Work Plan;

2) Direct staff to complete existing priority projects already underway, and to then commence work on new initiatives in the priority order laid out in the Table above, or in another order as directed;

3) Delay work on the General Plan Update until FY 20/21; and

4) Direct staff to seek grant funding opportunities in support of the General Plan Update and for other new initiatives and programs in the Table above.


Prior Board Actions:

2011 - Board begins setting priorities for the Comprehensive Planning Division through approval of two-year work plans 

December 2014 the Board set priorities for a two-year program for FY 15/16 and FY 16/17

June 2017 the Board set priorities for a two-year program for FY 17/18 and FY 18/19




Fiscal Summary


FY 18-19 Adopted

FY19-20 Projected

FY 20-21 Projected

Budgeted Expenses




Additional Appropriation Requested




Total Expenditures




Funding Sources




General Fund/WA GF












Use of Fund Balance








Total Sources




Narrative Explanation of Fiscal Impacts:

There are no direct fiscal impacts associated with the discussion and prioritization of this work plan under the scope of the recommended Option 1. Should the Board propose Option 2, staff will prepare a detailed General Plan Update work plan with associated Fiscal Impacts for Board consideration at a future hearing.


Staffing Impacts:




Position Title (Payroll Classification)

Monthly Salary Range (A - I Step)

Additions (number)

Deletions (number)













Narrative Explanation of Staffing Impacts (If Required):

Not applicable



Attachment A: Comprehensive Planning Work Plan Projects and Allocated Hours

Attachment B: Community Comments


Related Items “On File” with the Clerk of the Board:

Not applicable