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This page includes resources for the Housing Element Update process and related plans and websites.



Related Plans and Resources


This section contains published documents related to the Housing, Safety, and Environmental Justice Element Updates.

Public Review Draft Environmental Justice Element Available Now!

We are excited to announce the release of the Public Review Draft Environmental Justice Element. The new Environmental Justice Element is an essential component of the General Plan that focuses on addressing the disproportionate environmental burdens faced by portions of our community. It aims to ensure fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, when deciding on future development and establishing new City policies.

We welcome your comments. We invite all those interested to comment on the Public Review Draft Environmental Justice Element. This is an important opportunity for the city to receive early feedback on the draft Element and engage with the community. The Public Review Draft Environmental Justice Element will be available for public comment during the following period:

Open Public Comment: Monday, June 3, 2024 @ 8:00 a.m.
Close Public Comment: Wednesday, July 3, 2024 @ 5:00 p.m.

To comment on the Draft, please email Brandon Smith, Principal Planner, at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Comments can also be submitted by clicking the green “comments” button on the right side of the screen

Newsletter #1: Housing Element Overview

Newsletter #1 describes what a housing element is, how and why it is being updated, the project schedule, and how to get involved in the update process.

Click here or click the image to download a copy.

This section contains frequently asked questions about the Housing, Environmental Justices, and Safety Element Updates. 

What is included in the Housing Element?

Housing Elements are typically organized into the following parts:

  • Housing Needs Analysis
  • Analysis of Constraints to Housing Production
  • Inventory of Sites Suitable for Residential Development
  • Policy and Implementation Program

As a part of updating the Housing Element, the City will reorganize or add new sections to emphasize pertinent planning issues and respond to new State laws that have been passed since the current Housing Element was adopted.

Why update the Housing Element?

Since 1969, California has required that all local governments (cities and counties) adequately plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. California’s local governments meet this requirement by adopting housing plans as part of their “general plan” (also required by the state). General plans serve as a local government’s "blueprint" for how the city and/or county will grow and develop and include eight elements: land use, transportation, conservation, noise, open space, safety, environmental justice (if disadvantaged communities are identified), and housing. The law mandating that housing be included as an element of each jurisdiction’s general plan is known as “housing element law.”

California’s housing element law acknowledges that, in order for the private market to adequately address the housing needs and demand of Californians, local governments must adopt plans and regulatory systems that provide opportunities for (and do not unduly constrain), housing development. As a result, housing policy in California rests largely upon the effective implementation of local general plans and, in particular, local housing elements.

Who oversees the Housing Element Process?

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has the critical role of reviewing every local government’s housing element to determine whether it complies with State law and then submits written findings back to each local government. HCD must certify the housing element before the City can adopt it as part of its overall General Plan.

HCD review for this Housing Element Update is scheduled to take place in Summer 2023. 

What is included in the Environmental Justice Element?

The Environmental Justice Element identifies disadvantaged communities in the City and includes policies and programs to address the following topics:

  • Pollution exposure
  • Air quality
  • Food access
  • Safe, sanitary, and affordable housing
  • Physical activity and recreational opportunities

An important part of the Environmental Justice Element is providing public engagement and outreach opportunities, especially in disadvantaged communities, to promote participation in the planning process.

What is included in the Safety Element?

Safety Elements typically include an assessment of potential risks and feasible mitigation policies and programs for the following topics:

  • Slope instability (mudslides and landslides)
  • Seismic and other geological risks
  • Flooding 
  • Drought
  • Wildland and urban fires
  • Climate change adaptation and resilience

Feasibile mitigation measures may include disaster and emergency preparedness (e.g., emergency shelters, evacuation routes, emergency shelters), education and communication, development regulations, or additional studies.

Why update other general plan elements as part of the Housing Element Update Process?

In addition to the Housing Element Update, the City will also be updating the Safety Element of the General Plan and preparing a new Environmental Justice Element to align with the updated Housing Element. Both Elements are required by State law to be updated (or prepared) when one or more General Plan Elements are adopted.

The City will update the Safety Element background information, associated maps, and regulatory context for the following topics: soils, seismic, and other geologic hazards;flood hazards; fire hazards; hazardous materials and waste; aircraft hazards; and emergency response. The Safety Element will also be updated to discuss how it aligns with other General Plan elements, including the updated Housing Element. The Safety Element Update will include a Vulnerability Assessment and a Safety Element Policy Memorandum.

The City will prepare the Environmental Justice Element to include the goals, policies, and implementation programs in the following areas to promote healthy, diverse, and equitable communities: racial and social justice, environmental justice, and civic engagement in the public decision-making process.

What environmental documentation will be prepared?

Using the information and data gathered during the the Update process, the Housing Element Team will conduct an environmental analysis and prepare the necessary and appropriate documentation to meet the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 

CEQA review of the Housing Element is scheduled to take place between September and October 2023.

When will the 2023-2031 Housing Element be completed?

The updated Housing Element, Safety Element, and Environmental Justice Element are all anticipated to go the Planning Commission and City Council for adoption between October and December 2023.

Who is preparing the Housing Element Update?

The Housing Element Update is being developed by City staff with direction from the City Council and input from the Planning Commission and the community. The development of the Housing Element Update is being lead by City staff from the Planning Department.

To assist in the development of the Update, the City has also hired a team of advanced planning specialists that include community planners and technical specialists:

  • Mintier Harnish (lead consultant)
  • Rincon Consultants, Inc. (environmental subconsultant)
How can I get involved?

There will be several opportunities to get involved with the Housing Element Update process and provide your input! 

  1. Visit the "Participate" page of this website for more information on upcoming and past events. 
  2. Join our eMail List to stay up to date on meetings and key milestones. The Housing Element Team will send out timely emails throughout the process regarding upcoming events, workshops, meetings, and project documents. To sign-up just click the orange tab on the side of your screen.
  3. Send us a comment! You can send us written comment day or night by clicking the green "Comments" button on the side of your screen.

Join the Conversation!

Provide your email address to stay up to date on meetings and key milestones. The Housing Element Team will send out timely emails throughout the process regarding upcoming events, workshops, meetings, and project documents.

Click the orange "Join eMail List" tab on the right edge of the screen to sign up.

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Questions? Contact us:

Brandon Smith, Principal Planner 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(559) 713-4636

City of Visalia Planning Department
315 E. Acequia Avenue
Visalia, CA 93291

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