General plans are important instruments in the growth of any city. Richmond city in California relies on a general plan. Their general plan 2030 is a comprehensive document, which encompasses different elements including land use and urban design, environment and conservation, transportation, public facilities, communication and economic among other elements. The land use is among the essential elements of the plan (Richmond 3). This paper evaluates the element as it is outlined in Richmond’s general plan. Is it in position to address the land use issues in the city? Is the time frame realistic? These are some of the questions, which the essay answers.
Richmond strives to align its land use and development to suit the busy neighborhoods, the history of the community, the identity of the community and the significant bay area location. The city aims to employ sustainability principles, to ensure that the developmental patterns implemented enhance mobility, supports a diverse community, conserves the natural environment and appreciate the cultural and historical resources (Richmond 3).
The general plan starts by describing the state of land use in Richmond, California presently. The city is said to have around 18792 acres, 886 are allocated to commercial use and residential buildings occupy 4600 acres. 4075 acres are dedicated to industries whereas 5888 acres are used for parks and open spaces. Reviewing the present situation of the city is important since it gives the implementers of the general plan some reference plan. Furthermore, it provides statistics to other stakeholders when they are evaluating and monitoring the plan (Richmond 4).
After outlining the present land use patterns of the city, the plan goes forth to outline their citywide principles for land use. This defines how Richmond, want their urban spaces to look like by 2030. The plan appreciates that even if the private and public areas are regulated differently, there is a need to create a link between the two. For instance, some features in private buildings such as window displays can be combined with landscaping and sidewalk treatment, to develop attractive areas for pedestrians. To ensure that they reach this goal, they have principles that will govern the development including connectivity, sustainability and design excellence (Richmond 7).
Richmond’s land use does not work on its own. Land use element has a number of functions including defining and allocating land uses in the city. It also specifies the height of buildings for each land use. The plan describes the goal of the urban design and connects acceptable land uses with the urban design aspects. It includes the principles of citywide urban design in order to develop a high quality urban area. For the land use element to work, it must be aligned to the land classification or the zoning ordinance (Richmond 14).
The Richmond general plan 2030, describes the allowable land uses in particular zoning districts and those, which require close regulation. It also defines the standards to be used in the development of the city. Besides, it regulates the density of people per acre and the intensity of development on a particular land portion. By integrating the land use design element and zoning ordinance, the city will achieve sustainable development. This is because the land classification has guidelines on what land to use for what function. The residential areas remain as such and the commercial as so (Richmond 15)
The general plan provides a development strategy. It first divides the city into distinct areas such as change areas, recreation, agriculture, stable areas and open spaces. Although change areas, only represent a small portion of the city’s land area, they are critical in its development strategy. If there will be any change, it will be in these areas. They either are underutilized or have high potentials for redeveloping. They include districts, neighborhood nodes, key corridors, gateways, community nodes, and major activity areas (Richmond 22).
Richmond’s General Plan is comprehensive. It not only proposes development but it also outlines those areas, which are ready to be utilized or redeveloped. They also review the community’s vision for each of the change areas. This is important since the visions presented are able to guide the building massing, organization of sites, landscaping and orientation. They also provide guidance on the setbacks to be expected (Richmond 22).
The General Plan 2030 developed by Richmond City Council, also presents the key findings and the recommendations. The recommendations are practical and with a reasonable time frame (Richmond, 41-44). It also outlines the goals to be achieved and the ways of reaching them (Richmond 45-47). Then it aligns each of the goals with the relevant policies and the actions for implementation. (Richmond 48-75). All these aspects strengthen the general plan and make it an appropriate reference document for monitoring and evaluation programs.
Overall, Richmond General Plan- 2030 land use element, is effective for the city. It blends the land use needs with the zoning ordinance, to ensure environmental sustainability. For a general plan, the period is favorable, if the stakeholders adhere to the plan to the letter, it will certainly provide results.
Richmond City Council. Richmond General Plan 2030: Land Use and Urban Design. California: City of Richmond Planning and Building Services Department. 25 May 2012. web. 28 Nov. 2015