Citizens' Dictionary

Citizens' Dictionary

Planning and City terminology for the curious...

Charter City: Becoming a charter city allows voters to determine how their city government is organized and, with respect to municipal affairs, enact legislation different than that adopted by the state.

General Plan: Required under state law, a general plan governs most land use approvals and development within the city; a policy document that sets the goals, strategies, and, in some areas, regulations regarding the distribution of land and its type and intensity of use, both public and private.

Land Use Designation- LAND USE defines use of land for the future. Includes descriptions of appropriate usage is “intended to be utilized as a general guideline.” Does not include development guidelines or specfic design specifications.

Land Use Map: Maps that show Land Use Designations

Zoning Designations More specifically defines what uses are currently allowed; outlines design and development guidelines such as setbacks, minimum lot sizes, buffering and landscape requirements.

Zoning Map Map detailing zoning designations

Implementing Plan: Lays out what and how development will be legally allowed and enacts the zoning, which typically happens when a development plan is brought through the City approval process.

Specific Plan: A Specific Plan is a comprehensive planning and zoning document for a defined geographic region of the City.

Growth Management Program: Directly links future residential, commercial and industrial development to the provision of public facilities such as city administrative buildings, libraries, parks, drainage, circulation, fire response times, open space, sewer collection system, schools, water system/emergency water storage andwastewater treatment. Also establishes how large the city will get. The future maximum size of the city is established by limiting the total number of residential units to 54,600 dwelling units. 

Exception to the Growth Management Plan in Carlsbad: Commercial living units like second dwelling units, hotels, motels, time share and some commercial nursing homes are NOT counted towards the total number number of residential units (but are still impacting and putting pressure on our public facilities.) 

Control Point: number of dwelling units per acre (du/a) over which a project could exceed the allowable units in that particular zoning designation. 

Density: is expressed in dwelling units per acre (du/a); 

High Density: higher density developments are becoming a popular choice with continued population growth; are intended as part of sustainable development, but only work well if located close to good public transportation; some are intended for be affordable housing but there is little in place to legally enforce affordability, so often sold at market rates. Also intended to be part of smart growth. 

Smart Growth: Planned economic and community development that attempts to curb urban sprawl and worsening environmental conditions. 

Infill Development: development occurring in left-over vacant areas of the city, usually less than 5 acres in size that are generally exempt from CEQA, but still need to go through the normal city development approval process. 


California Coastal Commission: 

The California Coastal Commission was established in 1972, to plan and regulate the use of land and water in the coastal zone. Development activities, which are broadly defined by the Coastal Act to include (among others) construction of buildings, divisions of land, and activities that change the intensity of use of land or public access to coastal waters, generally require a coastal permit from either the Coastal Commission or the local government. The Commission is an independent, quasi-judicial state agency.

Coastal Zone: The coastal zone, which was specifically mapped by the Legislature, varies in width from several hundred feet in highly urbanized areas up to five miles in certain rural areas, and offshore the coastal zone includes a three-mile-wide band of ocean.

Coastal Development: Development within coastal zone generally requires a permit from the California Coastal Commission.

Local Coastal Program (LCP): an allowance from the California Coastal Commission wish allows a city to issue development permits throughout the Coastal Zone without Coastal Commission approval.

LCP Exceptions: Some areas, specifically those in tidal zones are not part of the LCP. Agua Hedionda segment including Encina Power Plant is not part of the certified Local Coastal Program.


Paid for by Cori Schumacher for Carlsbad City Council 2016