Frequently Asked Questions

On June 5, 2007, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors authorized the preparation of a Specific Plan and General Plan Amendment study for the northern, industrial area of North Richmond, generally bounded by Wildcat Creek, San Pablo Creek, Richmond Parkway, and the Union Pacific railroad tracks (approximately 200 acres of land).

The initiation of the Specific Plan and General Plan Amendment study was in response to a request from Signature Properties to re-designate significant acreage within this area of North Richmond from industrial use to residential use. The purpose of the Specific Plan is to provide policy direction on the transformation of this area into a new residential neighborhood, including the type, location, and intensity of uses, design and capacity of public improvements and infrastructure, and to identify the resources that will be needed to finance and implement the public improvements and infrastructure for this area.

Why is a Specific Plan needed for this area of North Richmond?

A recent study commissioned by the County Redevelopment Agency evaluated the infrastructure needs, costs, and financing options for industrial development in North Richmond. This study included an analysis of the industrial market which indicates that North Richmond could potentially capture 1.6 million square feet of industrial development, or the equivalent of about 145 acres, through year 2030.  This compares to about 500 acres of available land in North Richmond now designated for industrial use. According to this analysis only 29% of the North Richmond area is needed for industrial development through year 2030.  In short, North Richmond has more land set aside for industrial development than needed and much of the existing industrial land is underused capacity. (Source: “Final Report North Richmond Redevelopment Project Area Study”, Feb. 2006, prepared by Economic & Planning Systems in association with Berryman & Henigar)

In contrast to the shrinking demand for industrial land, more land in western Contra Costa County is needed for residential, commercial, and public uses. Young families and first-time homebuyers residing in West County are expected to drive demand for new residential development in the future. The location of the Specific Plan area in relation to emerging development along the Richmond Parkway and changing socio-economic trends, suggests that this area of underused industrial land could be transformed into a vibrant residential neighborhood with a mix of commercial and public uses that could serve and benefit the larger community of North Richmond.

The transformation of this industrial area into a new residential neighborhood will only occur through good planning that involves the input and participation of residents, landowners, business operators, community organizations, and other public agencies that have a stake in the future of North Richmond. Based on the input from all stakeholders, the Specific Plan will define the community’s vision for the future growth and development of this area in North Richmond.

What is a Specific Plan?

Under California law, a Specific Plan is a tool for the systematic implementation of the General Plan. It establishes a link between implementing policies of the General Plan and the individual development proposals in a defined geographic area. A Specific Plan may be as general as setting broad policy concepts, or as detailed as providing direction to every facet of development from the type, location, and intensity of uses to the design and capacity of infrastructure; from resources used to finance public improvements to the design of a subdivision. There is no size limitation on a Specific Plan, it can be as small as a single acre, and the range of issues covered in the Specific Plan is left to the discretion of  the decision making body. However, a Specific Plan must be consistent with the adopted General Plan.  In turn, all subsequent subdivision and development, all public works projects, and zoning regulations must be consistent with an adopted Specific Plan.  The adoption of a Specific Plan is a legislative act similar to adoption of a General Plan or Zoning Ordinance.  A Specific Plan is subject to an environmental review, or environmental impact report (EIR), as mandated under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

What is the schedule and process for preparation of the North Richmond Specific Plan? 

The preparation of the Specific Plan is now in progress.  The County has retained the services of planning, environmental, and public outreach consultants to assist in plan preparation. The consultant team has completed the initial phase in a three phrase work program that should lead to hearings on a Specific Plan proposal in the Spring of 2010 before the County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

The preparation of the Specific Plan will be an open, public process in which all interested parties will be encouraged and invited to review, comment, and testify about any aspect of the Specific Plan, General Plan Amendment, and EIR. There will be noticed public hearings before the County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors on the Specific Plan, General Plan Amendment, and EIR. As noted above, the public hearings are anticipated to occur in the Spring of 2010. Attached is a timeline schedule for the preparation of the Specific Plan and EIR.

Who is preparing the Specific Plan?

Since the area under consideration is unincorporated land, the Contra Costa County Department of Conservation & Development is overseeing the preparation of the Specific Plan, General Plan Amendment and EIR.  The County is being assisted by a consultant team lead by WRT/Solomon E.T.C. – Specific Plan preparation, Environmental Science Associates (ESA) - EIR preparation, and Craig Communications – public outreach.

Who do if I contact for more information and to stay informed?

Supervisor John Gioia, District I

   • Luz, Gomez, Deputy Chief of Staff - 510-374-3231 - EMAIL

Contra Costa County

   • D’Andre Wells, Redevelopment Project Manager, - 925-335-7236 - EMAIL


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