Yolo County General Plan Vision Statement
The general objective of the Yolo County General Plan is to guide development of the unincorporated area toward the most desirable future possible. The highest and best use of land within Yolo County is one that combines minimum urbanization with the preservation of productive farm resources and open space amenities.
Since its inception in 1850, Yolo County has remained dedicated to this objective, by protecting and enhancing its rich agricultural soils and farming economy. Over the past several decades, a similar sentiment has grown to preserve the diversity of its natural resources, from the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, along the watersheds of Putah and Cache Creeks, to the shores of the Sacramento River and the Delta. These goals have been accomplished by emphasizing reasonable population growth within compact urban development, combined with the promotion of the Williamson Act and the targeted use of conservation easements. To date, this strategy has worked well and Yolo County has achieved widespread respect for its innovative policies and political commitment to maintaining farmland and open space. However, there is also a growing understanding that the County needs to review its General Plan policies to meet new challenges that, if left unconstrained, have the potential to negatively affect the future of our community.
Yolo County is situated between rapidly growing metropolitan areas and faces increasing development pressure from both Sacramento and Bay Area, especially along the Interstate 80 corridor that links the two. Yolo County is experiencing growth pressure internally as well, as our two largest employers, the University of California and the Cache Creek Casino, undergo significant expansion. In addition, the quality of life that Yolo County has carefully cultivated is attractive to many homebuyers, both within and outside the County. These effects have combined to create intense demands for residential development, which in turn has reduced the supply of available and affordable housing. As the population expands, and cities grow, we can also expect a corresponding increase in demand for new parks, schools, retail, employment, hospitals, government centers, and infrastructure. As cities and towns grow in response to these pressures, the uncontrolled spread of development can have disastrous effects on outlying areas. Community facilities and utilities cannot efficiently serve scattered development and remaining land becomes fragmented so that it cannot be economically farmed and has little public value as open space.
The vision of Yolo County is to provide an active and productive buffer of farmland and open space separating the Bay Area from Sacramento. Both traditional and innovative agricultural practices will continue to flourish in the countryside, while accommodating the recreational and tourism needs of residents and visitors. Our communities will be kept separated and individual through the use of green spaces, while remaining connected by a network of riparian hiking trails, bike paths, and mass transit. While more families will call our cities and towns home, they will live in compact neighborhoods that are friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists, and are located within easy commute to stores and work. New growth will be complemented by in-fill and increased density development within older developed areas, bringing improved infrastructure (e.g., roads, sewer, water, drainage) to rural small communities where service does not presently exist. By implementing this vision, Yolo County can avoid the difficulties associated with development, even as it absorbs its share of growth within the Sacramento Metropolitan Area.
Yolo County will continue to be a statewide leader in developing innovative solutions that provide comprehensive and balanced land use management. We welcome the opportunity to set new standards that reflect our values and preserve our unique quality of life for future generations to enjoy. This Vision Statement is a first step in providing an overall direction for use in the preparation of the update to the Yolo County General Plan to achieve these goals. To assist in achieving this vision, the following guiding principles have been established:
- The planning process will strongly rely on public involvement, co-operative efforts with interested parties and organizations, and openness in communications.
- All those participating in the planning process will be treated with respect, dignity, courtesy, and responsiveness and the same will be expected from them.
- Open space, including both agriculture and wildlife habitat, is fundamental to the economy and quality of life in Yolo County and shall be protected.
- Environmental impacts will be reduced to the greatest extent feasible.
- A diversity of housing densities and land uses will be included to meet the needs of our diverse population.
- New development will benefit the community in which it is located.
- Specific opportunities for economic development and tourism will be provided, to ensure that communities have access to jobs and investment.
- Zoning will be designated to accommodate projected growth located within and around existing cities and towns to reduce sprawl.
- Projects will be located and designed to enhance public safety and to reduce potential losses of property and life.
- Projects will be designed to ensure that services can be provided in a cost-effective and efficient manner for all segments of the public.
- Vital public infrastructure, including but not limited to airports, sewer and water systems, and landfills will be protected from encroachment by incompatible uses.
- Non-vehicular transportation will be provided through bicycle lanes, bus stops, rail stations, pedestrian-oriented development, and other alternative measures.
- The maintenance and improvement of roads and bridges will be prioritized to ensure the most economical use of scarce funding.