Community Planning & Parking
Case Study – National City, CA: Strategies for Ensuring Broad Public Input
In 2005, National City launched a public outreach initiative to develop a Specific Plan for the Westside area. The purpose of the Specific Plan is to address concerns of the impact of incompatible land uses expressed by the community. Over the next five years, the city held public workshops to receive input, explore issues, and build community consensus on a planning framework and eventual adoption of the specific plan. The Plan identifies the requirements and guides the development of, among other features, the Paradise Creek Affordable Housing Project, a 201-unit project on the east side of Paradise Creek.
The Westside Specific Plan established principles, programs and standards for land use, development, and public improvements for the Westside area. The plan was the result of a collaborative effort by the community, interested and concerned groups, and business owners to revitalize the area. During a series of community workshops, the community collaborated on and agreed to a central vision and four guiding principles:
- Respect and encourage single-family homes and small residential development;
- Improve environmental health conditions for residents in the area;
- Limit uses adjacent to Paradise Creek to restoration, passive recreation, and open space; and
- Enhance pedestrian safety and promote the walkability of the community.
Historically, this area of National City was occupied by brownfields, warehouses, car repair businesses, and a few modest older small homes. Because of the comprehensive and transparent nature of the public outreach effort and the anticipated community benefits, this project has received national recognition as well as nearly $10 million in construction grants from the California Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.
Policies/Ordinances that Contributed to Project Success
A Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was prepared for the Westside Specific Plan and considered the buildout of the area. This type of EIR covers future developments consistent with the Specific Plan, which reduces costs associated with preparing an EIR and conducting public outreach for individual projects. The Program EIR helps facilitate new development in the Specific Plan area.
Challenges and Lessons Learned
Late in the planning stage of this project, there was significant controversy over efforts to reduce the parking ratio of cars to units. Proponents of the project sought to reduce the ratio, but because decisions around the ratio had already been made and the public opposition was strong, the City was unable to reduce the ratio.
According to the City’s housing office, the waiting list for the Paradise Creek project is over 3,000 applications for the 201-unit development. To ensure that the residents of the community, especially those who were displaced in the project’s development, had access to the project’s affordable housing units, the National City Council adopted an ordinance giving first priority to those already living in National City.