Land Use

About the program

Our Land Use Planning Program promotes sustainable local land use planning consistent with our mission, vision, and core values, guided by a set of land use principles. We actively engage in public education, participate in agency land use planning processes, help communities address local concerns, and help educate elected and appointed local officials.

Environmental advocacy related to proposed developments in Amador County

Contributing expertise to:

Out reach to:

Guiding Principles

  • New residential and commercial development should be concentrated in existing towns and communities where shopping, services, schools, jobs, and infrastructure are available.
  • Infrastructure such as water lines, sewer lines, power lines, and roads should not be extended outside existing developed areas unless those areas are contiguous to existing communities and scheduled for development in the near future as part of a general, community, or specific plan.
  • Communities should be separated, with by clear boundaries provided by working landscapes, greenbelts, or parks.
  • Development should not outpace the ability of local governments to provide adequate services and infrastructure or reduce the level of services provided to existing community residents.
  • Land uses should be consistent with stated community visions or goals.
  • A range of housing types should be available for people of all income levels.
  • Land uses should not put land-use conversion pressure on agricultural lands or threaten the continued operation of existing industrial and commercial businesses.
  • Project design should work with the contour of the land, preserve physical features such as rock outcroppings, trees, watercourses, and wetlands, and protect important wildlife habitat.
  • County and city plans should protect key wildlife habitat, visual quality, agricultural lands, air quality, and open space resources while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Projects should be approved only if there is adequate water to sustainably supply them.
  • Environmental mitigation measures should adequately address local and community-wide impacts.

Updated September 2020

  • The ecological health of our rivers and watersheds is of primary importance. Ecological health includes maintenance of natural ecosystem dynamics, function, and processes; biological diversity; native species; site productivity and nutrient capital; watershed processes; and native landscape structures.
  • We oppose on-stream dams and question the merits of additional off-stream storage and further water diversions in the Mokelumne,Cosumnes, and nearby watersheds.
  • We support National Wild and Scenic River status for the Mokelumne River as a means of protecting the cultural, recreational, and ecological resources of the river canyon and the river.
  • We believe in maintaining the natural beauty of our rivers and watersheds.
  • We support public access to and recreational use of our rivers and watersheds.
  • We support public and private forest management that is ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable.
  • We support efforts to restore damaged river systems and watersheds to a resilient state.
  • We support adaptive management as a means of ensuring that planned activities are having the desired effect and to allow management changes necessary to meet defined goals.
  • We believe in working collaboratively and cooperatively with others interested in the health of our rivers and watersheds.

Updated September 2020

The following broad principles were adopted to guide the Foothill Conservancy in developing positions on specific infrastructure issues, including roads, water, wastewater, and so forth.

  • The user should pay: The cost of infrastructure expansion or improvements should be born by those who will benefit from and use the infrastructure.
  • The cost of infrastructure expansions that are needed solely to accommodate new development should not be borne by existing ratepayers and taxpayers.
  • Infrastructure planning should be done in open, inclusive processes that actively involve all affected stakeholders and the public, using methods that will ensure broad participation.
  • Infrastructure planning should be based on adopted county and city general plans, not on speculative development that is inconsistent with adopted plans.
  • The location, scale, and timing of infrastructure development should be done in a way that does not drive growth beyond what is anticipated in local land use plans.
  • Infrastructure such as roads, water, and wastewater facilities should not be extended into undeveloped areas unless those areas are contiguous to existing communities and approved for dense development in an adopted county or city general plan.
  • When infrastructure facilities are extended across lands not planned for development in order to reach existing communities, connections to those facilities outside of developed communities should be limited.
  • Infrastructure agencies should employ demand-side management techniques, including conservation and efficiency, before taking on expensive supply expansion projects.
  • When resources are limited or finite, infrastructure providers should develop and follow smart-growth, demand-side management, and efficiency policies in order to allocate resources based on specified criteria rather than serve applicants on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Infrastructure should be developed in a way that works with natural systems and minimizes damage to the natural and built environment.

Updated September 2020

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