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General Plan Updates and Evaluations


We have helped more than 60 California cities and counties prepare comprehensive General Plan updates, evaluations, and related projects. We have a thorough knowledge of General Plan law. We work with large and small, urban and rural cities and counties to carry out General Plan programs and projects tailored to their specific needs. We work closely with our clients throughout the program to ensure relevance, quality, and responsiveness of the General Plan. Our broad experience and expertise result in uniformly excellent work products and satisfied clients. 

Our Experience   |  General Plan Projects
Representative Projects
City of Folsom | 2035 General Plan, Program EIR, and Zoning Code Update

Mintier Harnish worked with the City of Folsom on an update to the Folsom General Plan. The City’s General Plan was last comprehensively updated in 1988. The city has changed dramatically since then, not only in total population but in the nature of the community. Folsom has transformed from a small suburban community into a vibrant, urbanizing mid-sized city. The 2035 General Plan incorporates a new vision for the City of Folsom. It encourages the development of mixed-use districts along East Bidwell Street and transit-oriented development at the City’s light rail stations. The Plan promotes complete streets and changes to the City’s level of service policy. The General Plan was adopted August 30, 2018.

As a follow-up on the Project, Mintier Harnish was retained in 2019 to lead the comprehensive update of the City’s Zoning Code. Key features of the update include implementing new mixed-use land use designations, developing objective multifamily residential design standards, preparing ADU provisions consistent with State law, streamlining development approvals, and overhauling the historic district design and development standards, The project includes four days of stakeholder interviews, community workshops, and multiple study sessions with the Historic District Commission, Planning Commission, and City Council.

City of Gilroy | General Plan, Housing Element, and Zoning Code Update

Mintier Harnish is currently leading a multi-disciplinary consulting team to update the City’s General Plan and Zoning Code Updates. The General Plan Update is focused on engaging the community, economic growth, fiscal sustainability, and transforming and revitalizing infill areas.
The city of Gilroy is located on the periphery of the Bay Area, but still strives to maintain its small-town character. The Mintier Harnish team worked with the City to ensure a balance between these sometimes-competing factors throughout the visioning and alternatives processes. The project included 40 GPAC meetings, six community workshops, a robust alternatives analysis, and one of the first Environmental Justice Elements. The updated General Plan is expected to be adopted by the end of 2020. Mintier Harnish also prepared the 5th cycle Gilroy Housing Element, which was adopted on December 1, 2014.

Mintier Harnish is currently leading a team to prepare a comprehensive update of the City’s Zoning Code. Key elements of the update include compliance with Federal and State laws and regulations, implementation of the general plan, including new mixed-use and innovative zoning districts, and housing supply-related provisions addressing ADUs, objective multifamily residential design standards, streamline housing development approvals, and a missing middle housing whitepaper.

City of Hayward | 2040 General Plan Update and Program Environmental Impact Report

Mintier Harnish managed a multi-disciplinary consulting team in a comprehensive update of the City of Hayward General Plan and preparation of a Program EIR. The General Plan incorporated new City initiatives within the context of several significant changes in State law and a comprehensive strategy for how the City can address climate change and sustainability. City staff took a major role in updating the General Plan in-house. Mintier Harnish worked closely with City staff and the team of consultants to produce an innovative and compelling plan for Hayward‚Äôs future. We conducted focused Do-It-Yourself General Plan¬ģ training sessions with City staff throughout the Update process. The resulting 2040 General Plan established a new Vision for the city of Hayward and included several unique elements, including a Community Health and Quality of Life Element and an Education and Lifelong Learning Element. The General Plan was also developed as the City‚Äôs Community Risk Reduction Plan and as the City‚Äôs Climate Action Plan. The City Council certified the Final PEIR and approved the Hayward 2040 General Plan in July 2014. Following adoption, the Mintier Harnish team created a web-based, fully searchable online General Plan (www.hayward2040generalplan.com).

City of Pleasant Hill | General Plan Update

Mintier Harnish began the Pleasant Hill General Plan Update in April 2019. The project is still (as of March 2021) in progress. The project includes the development of several documents, including an existing conditions and trends workbook, issues and opportunities summary, vision and guiding principles, alternatives analysis and report, policy document (which includes goals, policies, and implementation programs). Community engagement is also a large part of the project. Engagement activities include regular newsletter releases, the use of project branding through developing a logo and style, facilitation of GPAC meetings, joint study sessions with the Planning Commission and City Council, community workshops, and pop-up booths at community events and festivals.

In November 2019, Mintier Harnish facilitated a multi-day Planning and Design Workshop that included nightly presentations, an urban design charrette, and community walking tours. Mintier Harnish is also partnering with EnCode Plus to provide the City with a web-based General Plan and Zoning Code on the EnCode platform. Based on the ongoing success of the Update, the City of Pleasant Hill contracted with Mintier Harnish to prepare the City’s 6th Cycle Housing Element, Objective Design Standards, and Zoning Code Update as part of the General Plan Update.

City of Rohnert Park | General Plan Update

Mintier Harnish is the lead firm on the update to the Rohnert Park General Plan, which began in 2018. We are responsible for every aspect of the General Plan Update, including community engagement, existing conditions, visioning, alternatives, policy document, Program EIR, and adoption. Throughout the project, our team has conducted several successful community outreach pop-up events, including our popular Mad Libs Visioning exercise. Based on extensive community input, the most popular words Rohnert Park residents used to describe themselves were community, fun, and friendly. Input from these community outreach events were incorporated into developing alternative land use scenarios reflective of change that residents and City Council would like to see. These alternatives were analyzed based on a range of indicators to assess performance (including but not limited to housing capacity, employment generation, jobs-housing capacity, living wage, and VMT) and compiled into an Alternatives Report for the consideration of the Planning Commission, City Council, and the public. Our team has recently concluded the Alternatives phase and has, in coordination with City staff, begun to draft policies for the updated General Plan with expected adoption in 2020.

City of Union City | General Plan Update

Mintier Harnish has worked with the City of Union City for over 25 years on five housing element updates and two updates to the City’s General Plan. Mintier Harnish prepared the current Housing Element, which City Council adopted in January 2015. Mintier Harnish previously prepared the City’s 1988, 1996, 2002, and 2010 Housing Elements. Mintier Harnish prepared the City’s 2002 General Plan, which included all State-mandated elements, as well as three new optional elements (Urban Design, Youth and Family Services, and Economic Development). The Plan won a Northern California Section APA Merit Award. Since 2014, Mintier Harnish has been working with the City to update the 2002 General Plan. Major themes of the update include, a focus on economic development and fiscal health, integrating the City’s Climate Action Plan, and promoting community health. Mintier Harnish published the Public Review Draft 2040 General Plan in June 2019 and is currently preparing the final documents for adoption.

Town of Los Gatos | 2040 General Plan

Mintier Harnish began the Los Gatos General Plan Update in July 2018. The project is still (as of March 2021) in progress. The project includes the development a robust background report, issues and opportunities summary, vision and guiding principles, alternatives analysis and report, policy document (which includes goals, policies, and implementation programs). Community engagement is also a large part of the project. Engagement activities include regular newsletter releases, the use of project branding through developing a logo and style, over 35 regular GPAC meetings, joint study sessions with town leadership, community workshops, and pop-up booths at community events and festivals. Key issues as part of this update included: creating a multi-modal community; addressing wildfire safety; accommodating 6th cycle RHNA projections while preserving the unique, small-town character and feel; and introducing nodes of mixed-use development throughout eight defined Community Place Districts. Mintier Harnish is also partnering with EnCode Plus to provide the Town with a web-based General Plan on the EnCode platform. The General Plan is expected to be adopted in December 2021.

Town of Windsor | 2040 General Plan Update

Mintier Harnish recently led a multi-disciplinary consulting team to craft the Town of Windsor General Plan. The Update focused on engaging the community, revitalizing infill areas, implementing a vision for the Civic Center, and managing projected growth within the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). Key issues included: balancing increased tourism with the family-oriented community character; accommodating much-needed new housing while preserving the unique, small-town character and feel; and introducing nodes of mixed-use development along the Old Redwood Highway Corridor. The Draft General Plan and Program EIR were adopted in April 2018. Prior to preparing the General Plan, Mintier Harnish prepared the Town of Windsor 5th cycle Housing Element.

Mintier Harnish is currently assisting the Town of Windsor with the research, analysis, and development of objective design and development standards that will streamline multifamily housing and production in the Town. We are developing new standards and permit processing provisions to incentivize missing middle housing production in new development projects. Mintier Harnish is conducting research and analysis; facilitating stakeholder interviews and community, Planning Commission, and Town Council workshops; and preparing new standards and zoning code amendments. Mintier Harnish also expects to start a comprehensive zoning code update for the Town later this year.

Merced County | General Plan, Housing Element, and Zoning Code Update

Mintier Harnish has assisted Merced County with updating their General Plan, Housing Element, and Zoning Code. Key issues in the General Plan Update include: preserving agriculture and open space; meeting unincorporated community needs; promoting sustainable development patterns; enhancing local economies and jobs; collaborating with cities; and addressing water supply, air quality, climate change, and complete streets. The project included preparation of a Vision and Guiding Principles, Background Report, Issues and Opportunities Report, Alternatives Report, Policy Document, Housing Element, and Program EIR. Public participation in the Update included four newsletters, a project website, 16 Focus Group meetings, 42 Community Workshops, five Planning Commission Study Sessions, eight Board of supervisors study sessions, and nine public hearings.

Mintier Harnish also assisted the County with their fifth cycle Housing element update, which was certified by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Finally, Mintier Harnish assisted the County with a comprehensive update of their zoning code to address changes in Federal and State law and to implement the newly adopted General Plan. The Update included development on an on-line, fully interactive, web-based zoning code.

Ventura County | General Plan Update

Mintier Harnish was the lead firm on the update to the Ventura County General Plan, separate Housing Element update, and Non-Coastal Zoning Code update. The $2.4 million project included a multi-disciplinary team of seven consulting firms, specializing in economic development, mobility, environmental assessment, climate change, water resources, oil and gas resources, and public opinion surveys.

The project was initiated with a significant outreach program that covered the variety of geographic regions with the county. The initial outreach included multiple community workshops, topic area focus groups, and the conduct of a community opinion survey. To support the Update effort, this initial outreach was followed by a comprehensive Existing Conditions Background Report that documented and analyzed the conditions and trends that would impact the future of the county. This effort was then immediately followed by the development of an Issues, Opportunities, and Assets Report and then a comprehensive Alternatives Report. For Ventura County, the alternatives assessment was focused on proposed changes to policy, especially the range of policies needed to respond to changes in State law.

General Plan Updates and Evaluations

Housing Elements and Related Plans


We have prepared almost 80 housing elements and a dozen related plans and studies for cities and counties in California. During this time we have emerged as one of the leading experts in the field. In addition to preparing housing elements, we work with jurisdictions to obtain fair regional housing needs allocations through the RHNA process. We assist jurisdictions with housing element implementation, such as zoning ordinance and general plan amendments, infill housing strategies, redevelopment implementation plans, inclusionary housing studies, and other housing plans and projects. We also prepare HUD-required documents, including consolidated plans and analyses of impediments to fair housing choice.

Our Experience   |  Housing Plans
Housing Elements and Related Plans

Zoning and Development Code Updates


We prepare comprehensive zoning and development code updates for cities and counties throughout California. Many times, after completion of a general plan update, communities discover that their zoning and development codes do not reflect the vision and ideas embodied in the plan. Other times, communities simply get to the point that current planning and development practice has made their zoning and development regulations antiquated and ineffective.

We prepare zoning ordinances and development codes that are technically sound, legally defensible, and easy to use by staff, stakeholders, decision-makers, and community members. We help our client cities and counties to identify the inadequacies of their ordinances and codes and develop effective solutions to those problems.

Our Experience   |  Zoning and Development Code Updates
Zoning and Development Code Updates

Regional Plans


We help regions and the communities within them improve their social well-being, economic growth, and environmental sustainability from the neighborhood to the community to the metropolitan region. Regional planning has evolved over the last six decades through a variety of initiatives, planning efforts, and other broad-based movements. Major forces, such as the emergence of single-function State infrastructure planning agencies and heightened awareness of growth impacts on the environment, helped raise serious concerns regarding growth-related challenges such as air quality, regional economic health, overcrowded schools, affordable housing, urbanization of prime agricultural land, and water shortages.

Unlike individual city and county planning projects and programs, regional planning deals with challenges and opportunities facing multiple communities and stakeholders. Often neighboring communities share common characteristics and values and rely on the same resources for their success. However, they may also have conflicting and competing interests. Regional planning is based on the principle that, by working together, local communities can address regionwide environmental, social, and economic issues which may otherwise be left unattended or result in negative consequences. At the heart of this principle is the idea that through consensus building, trust, and an understanding of common goals, local communities, and the regions in which they are located can become stronger, more sustainable, and vibrant.

We work with communities, local officials, regional agencies, and other stakeholders to develop long- and short-term plans, strategies, programs, and tools that promote the sustainability and best use of a region’s lands, resources, and people. We help our clients address many regional issues, including:

Our Experience   |  Representative Projects
San Joaquin Valley REAP Housing Production Trends, Barriers, and Best Practices
Strategic Growth Council: MPO Sustainable Community Strategy Self-Assessment
StanCOG Sustainable Communities Strategy and Regional Housing Needs Allocation
TCAG Regional Housing Needs Assessment
SJCOG Sustainable Communities Strategy
San Joaquin Valley Blueprint Roadmap
San Joaquin Valley Blueprint Planners Toolkit
Stanislaus County Council of Governments RTP/Sustainable Communities Strategy
Regional Plans

Mintier Harnish

1415 20th Street | Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 446-0522
office@mintierharnish.com