What Is The Planning Commission

A Planning Commission consist of five (5) or more residents whose members are appointed by cities or counties elected officials for a term established by the jurisdiction where they serve.  The commission promotes the health, safety and general welfare by encouraging the most appropriate use of the land.  They undertake long-range planning for development that includes, but not limited to, preparation and maintenance of the general, specific and area plans, as well as reviewing Environmental Impact Reports and capital improvement projects.  Their short-range planning efforts include zoning matters dealing with land use changes, rezones, subdivision and parceling of land, special and conditional use permits, and variances.

What is the Planning Commission and what do they do?

A.        5 or more citizens

Correct.  These 5 or more citizens make up a permanent committee who have been appointed by the cities or counties elected officials to review matters related to planning and development.

B.        They are a group of people who meet for dinner on a weekly basis to discuss and exchange recipes

Wrong.  This commission holds public hearings on a regular schedule to consider land use matters.  These include such things as the local general plan, specific plans, rezoning, use permits, and subdivisions.  Commissioners serve at the pleasure of the council or supervisors, so commission membership changes in response to changes in those bodies.

The commission usually considers several items at each meeting, considering each proposal separately and taking acting before moving on to the next item.  Their decision may be referred to the city council as a recommendation for action or considered a final action unless appealed to the council or board.

C.        Elected officials can assign tasks to its planning commission

Correct.  Elected officials may assign tasks to its planning commission.  Such tasks include:

  • Assist in writing the general plan and community or specific plans
  • Annual review of jurisdiction’s capital improvement program and public works projects of other local agencies
  • Undertake special planning studies
  • Promote public outreach
  • Report to the elected officials  on the conformity of public land acquisition or disposal
  1. D.A and C

Correct.  The commission is the elected official’s advisor on land use planning.  the elected official may chose to follow the recommendation of the commission or not.  They can even reverse or modify commission actions or send proposals back to them for further review.  Their decisions are subject to appeal.  Remember the council and board have the final say in all city and county matters.

Therefore, an effective Planning Commission shares the following qualities:

  • Ability to focus on the subject matter under consideration
  • Clear view of the big picture, not being bogged down in excessive attention to minor details
  • Informed commissioners by reading reports and documents prior to the meeting
  • Attention to basic legal requirements in mind such as general plan consistency, meeting all applicable requirements, elimination or reduction of environmental impacts, and etc,
  • An open flow of ideals and discussion among all involved parties, including being objective and asking lots of questions

by Sheryl Brady

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