General Plan

A Plan for Pasadena’s Future

Every city in California has a General Plan, a blue print to guide the future. Pasadena’s General Plan is made up of seven elements listed below.

The City is also pleased to announce the launch of Our Pasadena – Putting the Plan in Motion. This highly anticipated program is a major step toward implementation of the City’s recently updated General Plan that was adopted in 2015.

Our Pasadena will focus on implementation—updating Pasadena’s Zoning Code and establishing neighborhood-specific design and land-use goals for the City’s eight Specific Plans. For more information, visit our website at ourpasadena.org.

General Plan Updates

Every General Plan is unique. To gauge local needs, Pasadena is proud to have a long history of involving thousands of Pasadenans in shaping its General Plan. The Pasadena you see today is a result of that history.

General Plan Elements

Land Use Element

 

Pasadena’s General Plan Land Use Element is grounded by the following Guiding Principles that cumulatively represent the community’s vision for the future. The Guiding Principles were developed through an extensive program of community outreach and input conducted over a six year period.

  1. Growth will be targeted to serve community needs and enhance the quality of life. Higher density development will be directed away from residential neighborhoods and into the Central District, Transit Villages, and Neighborhood Villages. These areas will have a diverse housing stock, job opportunities, exciting districts with commercial and recreational uses, and transit opportunities. New development will build upon Pasadena’s tradition of strong sense of place, great neighborhoods, gardens, plazas, parks, and trees.
  2. Pasadena’s historic resources will be preserved. Citywide, new development will be in harmony with and enhance Pasadena’s unique character and sense of place. New construction that could affect the integrity of historic resources will be compatible with, and differentiated from, the existing resource.
  3. Pasadena will be an economically vital city by providing jobs, services, revenues, and opportunities. A diverse economic base with jobs for Pasadena residents will be fostered; existing businesses will be encouraged to stay or expand; affordable housing will be provided for the labor pool; the continued fiscal health of the city will be ensured.
  4. Pasadena will be a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable community. Safe, well designed, accessible and human-scale residential and commercial areas will be provided where people of all ages can live, work and play. These areas will include neighborhood parks, urban open spaces and the equitable distribution of public and private recreational facilities; new public spaces will be acquired. Human services will be coordinated and made accessible to those who need them.
  5. Pasadena will be a city where people can circulate without cars. Specific plans in targeted development areas will emphasize a mix of uses, pedestrian activity, and transit; public and private transit will be made more available; neighborhood villages and transit villages will reduce the need for auto use.
  6. Pasadena will be a cultural, scientific, corporate, entertainment and education center for the region. Long-term growth opportunities will be provided for existing institutions; a healthy economy will be fostered to attract new cultural, scientific, corporate, entertainment and educational institutions.
  7. Community Participation will be a permanent part of achieving a greater city. Citizens will be provided with timely and understandable information on planning issues and projects; citizens will directly participate in shaping plans and policies for Pasadena’s future.
  8. Pasadena is committed to public education and a diverse educational system responsive to the broad needs of the community.

Land Use Diagram | 2023-10-16
Land Use Element | 2022-05-25

Mobility

 

Pasadena envisions a more livable and economically strong city that views Pasadena as “a community where people can circulate without cars.” The vision relies upon an integrated and multimodal transportation system that provides choices and accessibility for everyone living and working in the City.

Adopted Mobility Element 2015-08-18

Housing

 

California law requires that cities develop housing programs to address existing and future housing needs in their respective communities. To comply with state law and provide housing opportunities for residents, the City of Pasadena prepares a housing element. The Housing Element is a state mandated chapter of the Pasadena General Plan and is intended to address the production, maintenance, and improvement of housing. The current Housing Element covers an eight-year planning period from 2014 to 2021.

The City of Pasadena has long been at the forefront of housing policies and programs, not only in the San Gabriel Valley but also in southern California as a whole. In 2000, Pasadena was one of the first communities to develop a housing vision that expresses its commitment to housing its residents:

All Pasadena residents have an equal right to live in decent, safe and affordable housing in a suitable living environment for the long-term well-being and stability of themselves, their families, their neighborhoods, and their community. The housing vision for Pasadena is to maintain a socially and economically diverse community of homeowners and renters who are afforded this right.

This City Council adopted the 2021-2029 Pasadena Housing Element on July 18, 2022.

Please contact the Community Planning Section at (626) 744-4009 if you have questions about the Housing Element.

Green Space, Recreation and Parks

 

The Green Space, Recreation and Parks Element and Master Plan are the result of a three year effort to determine the community’s goals and objectives for open space, parks, and recreation facilities and programs. The Element and Master Plan work together to identify existing facilities and programs, assess how they are used, identify where additional park facilities or recreation programs are needed, and recommend how to best meet these needs.

The key recommendations of the documents are to:

  • Increase connectivity between local trails and regional trails
  • Acquire additional parks and open spaces, particularly in the identified “gap areas”
  • Increase cooperation and joint use of school facilities with the Pasadena Unified School District
  • Address deficits in sports fields and recreational facilities through improving existing facilities, acquiring additional facilities, and pursuing joint use of school facilities

Together with the Open Space and Conservation Element, the Green Space, Recreation and Parks Element & Master Plan serve as a framework of goals and policies to assure efficient stewardship of the City’s green spaces, recreation facilities, and natural resources

Open Space and Conservation

 

The Open Space and Conservation Element of the General Plan was adopted by the City Council on January 23, 2012.  The Open Space and Conservation Element provides a blueprint for natural open space and conservation.  The element is guided by the following vision statement which informs the goals, objectives and implementation measures:

Pasadena treasures, protects, restores, and expands its natural open space and exemplifies innovative and effective natural resource stewardship and conservation.

Together with the Green Space, Recreation and Park Element and Master Plan, the Open Space and Conservation Element serves as a framework of goals and policies to assure efficient stewardship of the City’s green spaces, recreation facilities, and natural resources.

General Plan Open Space and Conservation Element – 2012
Open Space Inventory
Open Space Plan – Appendix 1 – Element Requirements
Open Space Plan – Appendix 2 – Glossary
Open Space Plan – Appendix 3 – Open Space Inventory Summary
Open Space Plan – Appendix 4 – Open Space Criteria
Open Space Plan – Appendix 5 – Community Outreach
Open Space Plan – Appendix 6 – Residential Impact Fee

Noise

 

The General Plan Noise Element, which is required by State law, provides policy-level direction for the City to limit people’s exposure to noise. The City of Pasadena has updated its Noise Element, which was last revised in 1985. The Noise Element update represents the discussion and concerns of local stakeholders about noise in Pasadena. The goals, policies, and implementation measures of the Noise Element are the result of input from residents, community stakeholders, technical analysis, and an evaluation of existing and future land use patterns.

The Noise Element is reflected in two documents below.

The latter document is the City’s updated Noise Element. Potential noise sources identified include vehicles traveling along primary arterials, aircraft, the new light rail “Gold Line,” commercial activities, recreational activities and special events in the Central Arroyo, the Eaton Canyon Firing Range, and nuisance noise. Objectives, policies, and implementation measures are identified to minimize noise to the extent possible.

Please contact the Community Planning Section at (626) 744-4009 if you have questions about the Noise Element.

Existing and Future Conditions Report
Pasadena Noise Element Policy

Safety

 

Seismic safety consists of identification and appraisal of seismic hazards such as susceptibility to surface ruptures from faulting, ground shaking, and ground failures and the design of policies and programs to minimize their impact on present and future development.

The objective of the Safety portion of this section is to promote a secure environment for Pasadena residents and to reduce loss of life, injuries, damage to property, and economic and social dislocation resulting from tire and geologic occurrences.

General Plan Safety Element
General Plan Safety Element Technical Background Report
Local Hazard Mitigation Plan

Environmental Justice Element

Environmental Justice Element

The Environment Justice (EJ) Element is a new California State required element for jurisdictions that have State identified ‘disadvantaged communities.’ EJ is defined 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.”

The Planning Department in collaboration with other City departments is preparing an Environmental Justice (EJ) Element.

About

Background

Many local jurisdictions, including Pasadena, have long viewed EJ and social equity as important topics. However, State law has not previously required consideration of EJ challenges as part of community planning. In some cases, this has resulted in discriminatory land-use practices that create sources of pollution, such as industry or freeways adjacent to homes, schools, and in the backyards of the most vulnerable communities. As a result, low-income and communities of color suffer most from asthma, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and other health issues caused by exposure to toxic chemicals.

In 2016, Governor Brown signed the Planning for Healthy Communities Act, Senate Bill 1000 (SB-1000), mandating cities and counties adopt an EJ element or integrate EJ policies into other elements of the General Plan. In 2018, SB-1000 went into effect, requiring local governments to identify disadvantaged communities (DACs) in their jurisdictions and address EJ in their general plans. Jurisdictions without DACs may voluntarily adopt an EJ Element or integrate policies.

To assist local jurisdictions, the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) developed a screening tool to identify communities disproportionately impacted by or vulnerable to environmental pollution and contaminants. The mapping tool contains 21 indicators related to pollution burden, population characteristics, and other vulnerabilities (e.g., air quality, solid waste sites, asthma, and linguistic isolation). The tool also maps areas with the highest pollution and most vulnerability, identifying a city’s DACs. These indicators are showcased through CalEnviroScreen 4.0 Indicator Maps created by CalEPA and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).

Environmental Justice Communities in Pasadena

Pasadena’s overall average score is 43.6 (relatively good). However, the average score per census tract varies considerably from one area of Pasadena to another. As shown in Map 1, average scores range from very low (darker green) to high (darker orange). Tracts with an overall score of 75 or greater experience a disproportionate pollution burden and are most vulnerable, referred to as DACs.

Map 1: CalEnviroScreen Results for Pasadena (by Census Tract)

Map 1: CalEnviroScreen Results for Pasadena (by Census Tract)
Map 1: CalEnviroScreen Results for Pasadena (by Census Tract)

Map 2 shows the tract (Tract No. 6037-4616-00) in Pasadena that CalEnviroScreen identifies as a DAC. The tract is bound by Washington Boulevard to the north, Fair Oaks Avenue to the east, Orange Grove Boulevard to the south, and Prospect Boulevard and Forest Avenue to the west.

Map 2: Census Tract Identified as a DAC in Pasadena (CalEnviroScreen Score of 75 or greater)

Map 2: Census Tract Identified as a DAC in Pasadena (CalEnviroScreen Score of 75 or greater)
Map 2: Census Tract Identified as a DAC in Pasadena (CalEnviroScreen Score of 75 or greater)

Addressing Environmental Justice in Pasadena

Pasadena’s General Plan comprises seven elements: Land Use; Mobility; Housing; Green Space, Recreation and Parks; Open Space and Conservation; Noise; and Safety. Although Pasadena’s General Plan has policies on EJ-related topics, such as access to healthy foods, quality of rental housing, and a sustainable environment, it is not comprehensive enough to meet the objectives of SB-1000. Chapter 4 of the 2020 General Plan Guidelines from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research outlines what should be incorporated in an EJ Element. Specifically, General Plans must now reduce the unique and compounded health risks in DACs by addressing, at minimum, the following topics:

  • Pollution exposure and air quality – policies to prevent and mitigate exposure, remove and restrict pollutants, and protect sensitive populations within and around EJ communities.
  • Public facilities – policies to encourage the development of public facilities, such as parks and active transportation, and ensure EJ communities have equitable access to such facilities.
  • Healthy foods – policies to address food insecurity and promote access to healthy foods.
  • Safe and sanitary homes – policies to improve housing conditions for residents.
  • Physical activity – policies to promote spaces for physical activity and ensure access, connectivity, and equitable distribution of these opportunities.
  • Community engagement – policies and best practices for promoting equitable, inclusive, and meaningful community engagement in the public decision-making process.
  • Improvements and programs – policies to identify and reverse systemic funding inequities and prioritize improvements and programs that benefit EJ communities.

SB-1000 emphasizes community engagement throughout the planning process. Local jurisdictions are encouraged to employ a community engagement strategy incorporating feedback from residents and stakeholders from the start of a planning process to ensure that the voices of affected communities are heard and considered in land use decisions.

Plan Updates

What We’ve Been Up To So Far

Planning Commission – June 12, 2024

Information Session on Preparation of an Environmental Justice General Plan Element

Planning staff held an informational session with the Planning Commission introducing them to the preparation of the Environmental Justice Element.

For more information, refer to the links below.

Get Involved

Upcoming Events

LevelUp Youth Leadership
Building a Just and Sustainable Future (registration required)
Date: July 16, 12-2pm
Location:
Jefferson Branch Library
1500 E Villa St.
Pasadena, CA 91106

Upcoming Meetings

Environmental Advisory Commission
Date: September 10, 6pm (tentative)
Location:
Permit Center Hearing Room
175 N. Garfield Ave
Pasadena, CA 91101

Northwest Commission
Date: October 8, 6:30pm (tentative)
Location:
Jackie Robinson Community Center
1020 N. Fair Oaks Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91103

Resources

Mapping Tools


CalEnviroScreen

The data dashboard can be used to filter, visualize, and download data along with geographic boundaries and demographic information.

This map is used as a baseline in understanding the City’s Environment Justice Communities and identified Disadvantaged Communities.

Tree Equity Score

This dashboard showcases where trees are located in each community and helps in understanding where the gaps are.

Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool

This map indicates overburdened and underserved tracts, identifying them as disadvantaged.

Toolkits


SB 1000 Toolkit: Planning for Healthy Communities

This toolkit was prepared collectively by the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) and PlaceWorks Inc. as a guidance document intended for local governments, planners, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders who will be working to develop an Environmental Justice Element.

Governor’s Office of Planning and Research Environmental Justice Element Guide

The State’s Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) created guidelines in creating an Environmental Justice Element.

Informational Videos and Articles


Environmental Justice, Explained

A Brief History of Environmental Justice

Pollution is Segregated

Contact

Stay connected!

The Planning Department will be hosting various community engagement events. Contact the project team at EJELement@cityofpasadena.net to be added to the project email list.