The people of the County of Stanislaus do hereby ordain as follows:
I. Purpose and Findings.
A. Purpose. The purposes of this initiative measure are to: (1) establish a mechanism for direct citizen participation in land-use decisions affecting County policies, and (2) minimize sprawl, reduce transportation costs, maintain farmland, and secure the fees necessary to provide for the cost of needed services by directing development into incorporated cities.
B. Findings. The voters of Stanislaus County find:
1. The protection of existing agricultural and open space lands in Stanislaus County is of critical importance to the County’s present and future residents. Agriculture has been and remains a major contributor to local and regional economy. Agriculture creates direct and indirect employment for many people, provides valuable food crops distributed worldwide, and defines the County’s identity and way of life.
2. Continued urban residential encroachment into agricultural and open space lands impairs agriculture and threatens the public health, safety, and welfare. Such encroachment causes increased traffic congestion and air pollution, and threatens the quantity and quality of water supplies. Continued urban encroachment into agricultural lands also requires significant new public infrastructures and facilities, places additional stresses on existing public infrastructure and facilities, and increases costs on existing residents.
3. The unique character of Stanislaus County and the quality of life enjoyed by County residents depend on the protection of agricultural and open space lands. The protection of such lands aids the continued viability of agriculture, defines urban/rural boundary, and brings mental and physical benefits from the broad vistas at the urban edge.
4. This Citizen’s Right to Vote on Expansion of Residential Areas policy establishes a mechanism for direct voter participation into land-use decisions authorizing residential development of lands designated for agricultural or open space uses. Providing for such participation is consistent with, and builds upon, existing General Plan policies designed to protect agricultural land and open space.
II. General Plan Amendment
The Stanislaus County General Plan (as adopted in October 1994, and as amended through the effective date of this initiative measure), is amended as follows:
A. The following Goal and Policies are inserted at page 1-16 of the General Plan Land-Use Element, immediately following Goal Five:
Provide for direct citizen participation in land-use decisions involving the expansion of residential uses into agricultural and open-space areas in order to encourage compact urban form and to preserve agricultural land.
A. Any decision by the Board of Supervisors of the County of Stanislaus to approve the redesignation or rezoning of land from an agricultural or open space use to a residential use shall require, and be contingent upon, approval by a majority vote of the County voters at a general or special local election. In the event the Board approves the redesignation or rezoning of such land for a residential use, such approval shall not take effect unless and until that decision is approved by an affirmative majority vote of the voters of the County voting on the proposal.
B. The requirement set forth in paragraph (A) shall apply to all such decisions affecting land that is designated for agricultural or open space use on the Land Use Map of the County’s General Plan as of the effective date of this policy, even if the affected land is, after the effective date, redesignated or rezoned to a use other than an agricultural or open space use. The intent of this paragraph is to ensure that a developer does not “launder” land by obtaining County approval for a non-residential use (e.g., an industrial or commercial use), and then subsequently obtain County approval for a residential use.
C. The Board’s decision to approve the redesignation or rezoning of land from an agricultural or open space use to a residential use constitutes the “approval” of a “project” for purposes of CEQA. For this reason, the County shall comply with CEQA prior to the Board’s decision to approve the redesignation or rezoning, notwithstanding the requirement that the voters approve such redesignation or rezoning.
D. Once the voters have approved a land use map designation or land use entitlement for a property, additional voter approval shall not be required for: (1) subsequent entitlement requests that are consistent with the overall approved development project or land-use designation and zoning; and (2) any requested modification to a land-use or zoning designation that does not decrease the number of permitted dwellings, as specified in the exhibits and plans approved by the voters.
The requirement for voter approval set forth in this policy shall not apply to any of the following:
1. After notice and hearing as required by state law and after compliance with CEQA, the Board of Supervisors may, without a vote of the electorate of the County, approve residential development on land designated for agricultural or open space uses if the Board finds, based on substantial evidence in the record, and HCD certifies in writing, that all of the following circumstances exist: (a) the approval is necessary and required to meet the County’s legal fair share housing requirement; and (b) there is no other land in the County or the cities in the County already designated for urban use that can accommodate the County’s legal fair share housing requirement. The Board shall not redesignate more than ten (10) acres per year for residential use under this paragraph.
2. Additional acreage may be designated for residential use if the Board finds, and HCD certifies in writing, that the additional acreage is necessary to meet the Board’s legal fair share obligation based on maximum multi-family densities. Any proposal approved under this subsection shall be required to have all housing units permanently affordable to persons or families of moderate, low and very low income. The intent of this exemption is to provide sufficient land for housing to accommodate moderate, low and very low income housing, as may be necessary over time under State law.
3. Any development project that has obtained a vested right pursuant to state law prior to the effective date of this policy.
4. Any development project consisting entirely of farm worker housing.
The following definitions apply to this policy:
1. “Residential use” means any land-use designation, zoning district or other legislative entitlement authorizing, allowing, or consistent with residential development at a density greater than one (1) dwelling unit per ten (10) gross acres. Such density shall not include (a) caretaker housing or other residential uses incidental to the primary use, or (b) farm worker housing. “Residential use” includes the following land-use designations set forth in the General Plan (1994), all land-use designations that may be adopted by the County in the future that are comparable to such designations, and all zoning districts compatible with such designations: Estate Residential, Low-Density Residential, Medium-Density Residential, Medium High-Density Residential, Planned Development, and Specific Plan.
2. “Agricultural or open space use” means any land-use designation or zoning district authorizing, allowing, or consistent with residential development at a density of equal to or less than one (1) dwelling unit per ten (10) gross acres. “Agricultural or open space use” includes the following land-use designations set forth in the General Plan (1994), all land-use designations that may be adopted by the County in the future that are comparable to such designations, and all zoning districts compatible with such designations: Agriculture, Urban Transition, Mineral Resources.
3. “General Plan” means the Stanislaus County General Plan adopted in or about October 1994, as amended through the effective date.
4. “Effective date” means the effective date of the Citizen’s Right to Vote on Expansion of Residential Areas initiative measure, as established by the California Elections Code.
5. “Board” or “Board of Supervisors” means the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.
6. “County” means Stanislaus County.
7. “CEQA” means the California Environmental Quality Act.
8. “HCD” means the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
A. Elections: Except of the renewal or repeal of this Goal Six and Policy Twenty-Five, any direct or indirect costs to the County caused by the elections mandated by this goal and policy shall be borne by the applicants of the amendment of the General Plan land-use map designation or other development proposal requiring the election, unless otherwise prohibited by State law. Elections mandated by this goal and policy shall be consolidated with other elections, whenever feasible. Different proposals may appear on the same ballot at the same election provided that each separate proposal affecting a discrete property or development project shall be submitted to the voters as a separate measure.
B. Interim Amendments: The County of Stanislaus General Plan in effect at the
time the Notice of Intent to circulate this Initiative was submitted to the
County of Stanislaus Elections Official on April 17, 2006 (“submittal date”),
and that General Plan as amended by this Initiative, comprise an integrated,
internally consistent and compatible statement of polices for the County of
Stanislaus. In order to ensure that the County of Stanislaus General Plan
remains an integrated, internally consistent and compatible statement of
policies for the county as required by State law and to ensure that the actions
of the voters in enacting this Initiative are given effect, any provision of the
General Plan that is adopted between the submittal date and the Effective Date
shall, to the extent that such interim-enacted provision is inconsistent with
the General Plan provisions adopted by this Initiative, be amended as soon as
possible and in the manner and time required by state law to ensure consistency
between the provisions adopted by this Initiative and other elements of the
County’s General Plan.
C. Duration; Amendment: This Initiative, including Goal Six and Policy Twenty-Five, shall remain in effect until December 31, 2036, and may be amended or repealed only by the voters of the County at an election held in accordance with State law.
D. Interpretation; Severability: This Initiative shall be interpreted so as to be consistent with all Federal and State laws, rules, and regulations. If any word, sentence, paragraph, subparagraph, section, subsection or portion of this Goal and Policy is declared unconstitutional or otherwise in violation of state or federal law by a court, the remaining works, sentences, paragraphs, subparagraphs, sections, subsections or portions are to remain valid and enforceable. This Initiative shall be broadly construed in order to achieve the purposes stated in this Initiative.
E. If, after the effective date but before the date of the election on this initiative measure, the Board amends the General Plan such that the General Plan is not consistent with this initiative measure, then any such amendments shall automatically become null and void, to the extent necessary to be consistent with this policy. This provision is intended to ensure that the Board, in an effort to thwart the reserved initiative power of the people, does not amend the General Plan after the effective date so as to create an internal inconsistency in the General Plan as of the date the voters approve this Goal and Policy.