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Land Use Update

What is land use?

Land use refers to the purpose for which a parcel of land is used. It reflects the broader vision for what activities can be carried out, such as residential, commercial, industrial, park/open space, mixed-use, etc. This long-term vision helps guide future development. 

While land use is a broader category that determines what can be developed on a parcel of land, Zoning is a specific tool used to govern land use by implementing various rules and regulations. Those regulations include building heights, setbacks, density, permissible uses, etc. The purpose of zoning to is to guide development to align with the City's goals. The Zoning Code will be updated following the adoption for the General Plan Update. 

Why is land use changing?

Draft Place Types and Economic Areas.pdf (1).jpg

For a detailed view of the Draft Land Use Map, click here. For Place Types Descriptions, click here.

As part of the Visión Salinas 2040 General Plan Update, the City is updating its Land Use Element. The purpose of the Land Use Element is to describe present and planned land uses and their relationship to the community’s long-range goals for the future. The Land Use Element was last updated in 2002, and is required by the State of California. This update will help accommodate Salinas’ projected growth, which is expected to increase by 15,000 people by the year 2045.


As required by the State, the City of Salinas must demonstrate efforts to plan for the current and projected housing needs. The State and regional planning organizations determine a region's housing needs, known as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). Salinas is required to plan for 6,674 new homes by 2031. The Land Use Element will help identify opportunity sites for new housing, as there is a lack of vacant land within the City limits. 

Salinas is an urban island surrounded by a sea of agriculture fields. Because of the local industry, vacant land to develop is difficult to find. For the most part, the City is entirely built out across its city limits, besides flood-prone Lower Carr Lake and the Future Growth Area. Therefore, to meet the current and future demands for housing the City must identify infill sites. 

Through this General Plan Update, the City is proposing a new approach to land use designations and corresponding land use map that aims to create and reinforce quality places where people want to live, work, play, and learn. The Draft Place Types (full descriptions here) and Place Type Map were developed from community feedback received at the seven (7) land use workshops, Working Group and Steering Committee meetings, and the Community Design Workshop.  Draft Place Types incorporate land use policies and recommendations of other recent planning documents including the Alisal Vibrancy Plan and the Economic Development Element. In general, residents and stakeholders wanted to see more housing and mixed-use development, sufficient area for businesses to grow, and a variety of entertainment and recreation opportunities for all ages.

What does this mean?

  • Some areas of the city will be open to new development opportunities

  • existing businesses may become 'legal non-conforming'

  • Legal non-conforming businesses continue to operate as normal until property owner wants to change use

  • Existing businesses will not be required to close down

  • Property will not immediately be redeveloped


  • Winter/Spring 2024: Continue public engagement

    • Canvassing to areas of change​

    • Information meetings with Community Development Department Staff

  • Summer 2024: Release public draft for review

  • Late 2024: Adopt new General Plan

Interactive Land Use Tool

To access the City of Salinas' interactive land use tool, click here. This tool will allow you to see the current and proposed land use maps and definitions of the uses. 

How to stay involved

City staff recently held three information sessions for business and property owners to learn more about the General Plan Update and changes to land use. To watch recordings of the information sessions, see videos below. 

The next opportunity to give feedback will be on Tuesday, March 12 at the City of Salinas City Council Meeting. City staff will hold a study session with City Council to review the draft Land Use Element. 

Session 1 - 2/27/24 (7 A.M.)

Session 2 - 2/28/24 (11 A.M.)

Session 3 - 2/27/24 (6 P.M.)

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