The City of Escondido is conducting an update to the Safety Element, also known as the Community Protection Chapter, of the City's General Plan. The update is required pursuant to Government Code Section ("GC §") 65302(g), and must address topics including, but not limited to, fire hazards, climate adaptation and resiliency, and evacuation routes.

In addition to the Community Protection Chapter update, the City is undertaking the creation of an environmental justice element. The environmental justice element will include environmental justice goals, policies, and objectives, and identify environmental justice communities within the City.  

Why is the City updating the Community Protection Chapter?

In 2020, the City of Escondido began updating the Housing Element of the City's General Plan as part of the Housing and Community Investment Study (HCIS) work program. The Housing Element update is still in progress, with City staff working to address outstanding comments received from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on August 10, 2021. As a result of the housing element update process, the City must update their Community Protection Chapter. Specifically, a jurisdiction must update their safety element upon the next revision of their housing element on or after January 1, 2020 (GC § 65302(g)(5)). 

Why is the City creating a new environmental justice element?

Similar to how state legislation requires a safety element to be updated as a result of a housing element update on or after January 1, 2020, the City is responsible for adopting an environmental justice element upon the adoption or next revision of two or more elements concurrently on or after January 1, 2018 (GC § 65302(h)(2)). In this case, updates to the City's Housing and Safety Elements are currently required and will occur concurrently--thus triggering the need to create an environmental justice element.

The City will continue the update to the Housing Element, begin the update to the Community Protection Chapter of the City's General Plan, and create an environmental justice element as a concurrent work effort. 

Where is the City in this process? 

Currently, staff is kicking off this concurrent work effort now--in late 2021. Due to staffing changes, staff planner Veronica Morones will be taking over the Housing Element update, and leading the Community Protection Chapter update and creation of an environmental justice element. Below is a general overview of the tentative timeline for this concurrent work effort. For more information on the timeline below, please contact Veronica Morones via email at VMorones@escondido.org or via phone at (760) 839-4548. 

Image of a timeline, showing the high level overview of the proposed work effort--beginning in Winter 2021 and anticipated completion in Winter 2022. 
Community Outreach & Engagement

Escondido is dedicated to creating a sustainable and livable community for all. To move us closer to this goal, citywide policy documents must be updated to address new topics as they arise, and to ensure consistency with state statute and timeframes. City staff is currently working on a first draft of a community outreach and engagement plan (draft plan) for the concurrent work effort. Since the draft housing element is further along in process than the update to the Community Protection Chapter and new environmental justice element, the draft plan will primarily focus on outreach and engagement surrounding the Community Protection Chapter and environmental justice element. 

While City staff will create the initial version of the draft plan, staff aims for the draft plan to be a living document that grows and changes based on community feedback, interaction, insights, knowledge, and recommendations. Ultimately, the goal of the draft plan is to facilitate deep public participation, particularly by communities commonly excluded from the planning process--such as environmental justice communities, youth, persons experiencing homelessness, low income communities, and communities of color. The draft plan will seek to involve, collaborate, and whenever possible, defer to community members and residents.  

Housing Element Update

Information regarding the 6th cycle Housing Element update for the 2021-2029 planning period can be found at the City's Housing and Community Investment Study webpage.

Who do I contact if I have questions or want to get involved in this process?

For any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas, please contact Veronica Morones via email at VMorones@escondido.org or via phone at (760) 839-4548. (return to top)

Key Terms & Additional Resources

What is a general plan?
  • A general plan is the City's blueprint for meeting the community’s long-term vision for the future. A general plan is made up of text describing goals and objectives, principles, standards, and plan proposals, as well as a set of maps and diagrams. (return to top) 

Introduction to General Plans | Why General Plans Matter | General Plan Terms and Definitions | The City of Escondido's General Plan

What is a safety element? What is a housing element?
  • The term “element” refers to the topics that California law requires to be covered in a general plan (GC § 65302). A city's safety element establishes policies and programs to protect the community from risks associated with seismic, geologic, flood, and wildfire hazards, as well as from other concerns such as drought. A city's housing element assesses current and projected housing needs for all economic segments of the community. In addition, the housing element embodies policies for providing adequate housing and includes action programs for that purpose. By statute, the housing element must be updated every eight years. (return to top) 

Required Elements within a General Plan | Fire Hazard Planning Technical Advisory Housing Elements - HCD | City of Escondido's Housing and Community Investment Study

What is environmental justice (EJ)?
  • The State defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of people of all races, cultures, incomes, and national origins with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies” (GC §65040.12(e)). Environmental justice includes, but is not limited to, all of the following:
    • The availability of a healthy environment for all people.
    • The deterrence, reduction, and elimination of pollution burdens for populations and communities experiencing the adverse effects of that pollution, so that the effects of the pollution are not disproportionately borne by those populations and communities.
    • Governmental entities engaging and providing technical assistance to populations and communities most impacted by pollution to promote their meaningful participation in all phases of the environmental and land use decision making process.
    • At a minimum, the meaningful consideration of recommendations from populations and communities most impacted by pollution into environmental and land use decisions. (return to top)
What are environmental justice communities?
  • Long before the term “environmental justice” was coined, communities across California experienced discrimination through unjust land use policies and practices. Examples of such discrimination range from Spanish colonizers institutionalizing the Mission system and intentionally disrupting tribal culture and environmental stewardship, to the practice of redlining in cities during the 20th century, to farmworker exposure of dangerous pesticides in the 1960s (pp. 1-2, OPR, June 2020).  
  • Specifically, the State refers to environmental justice communities as "disadvantaged communities" and defines them as:
    • "...an area identified by the California Environmental Protection Agency Pursuant to Section 39711 of the Health and Safety Code or an area that is a low-income area that is disproportionately affected by environmental pollution and other hazards that can lead to negative health effects, exposure, or environmental degradation” (GC § 65302(h)(4)(A)). (return to top)

Environmental Justice Guidelines | State Attorney General's SB1000 Webpage | Senate Bill 1000 | CalEnviroScreen 4.0 | CALEJA SB1000 Tool Kit

Electronic Public Comment Form

The City welcomes any feedback, suggestions, ideas, or concerns regarding the Community Protection Chapter Update and creation of an environmental justice element. Please fill out the form below and it will be directed to Veronica Morones, the project planner. (return to top)