Land Use Planning

SummitWest offers expert Land Use Planning Services

SummitWest’s Expert Land Use Planning Services

SummitWest offers expert Land Use Planning Services in the areas of natural resource management and environmental planning, such as forestry, waters, sustainable development, climate change and endangered species.

Land use planning is a critical step towards any land development in California. It is a complex process that involves a variety of stakeholders, including local governments, state agencies, and the public. SummitWest effectively implements land use planning, through our expert decision making and policy implementation that optimizes how land is utilized, including the designation of different land zones for specific purposes such as residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, open space, and conservation. Our land use planning also includes the management of water, forests, minerals, and other resources in a way that protects the environment and best meets the needs of all stakeholders.

In California, land use planning is primarily governed by local jurisdictions, such as cities and counties, although state and federal laws also play a role. The planning process typically involves the creation and implementation of general plans, zoning ordinances, and specific plans that guide land development and usage.

The goals of land use planning in California are to promote sustainable development, protect natural resources, enhance community livability, and ensure compatibility between different land uses. This is achieved through the comprehensive analysis of various factors such as environmental impact, transportation, infrastructure, affordable housing, economic development, and public input.

Key goals of land use planning in California include:

  • Protecting the environment
  • Promoting economic development
  • Providing a variety of housing types
  • Creating a livable and sustainable community

Land use planning therefore represents a critical process in shaping the future of California. By carefully considering the needs of the community and the environment, land use planners can help to create a state that is both prosperous and sustainable and balance the needs of the population with the long-term sustainability of the state.

Some of the specific land use planning issues that are currently being addressed in California include:

  • Climate change adaptation
  • Housing affordability
  • Transportation equity
  • Smart growth
  • Conservation of natural resources


SummitWest land use planning services include:

Environmental Impact Assessment: Our experienced team conducts environmental impact assessments (EIAs) to evaluate the potential environmental effects of proposed land use changes or development projects, assessing factors such as air and water quality, biodiversity, habitat conservation, noise pollution, and cultural resources to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

Regulatory Compliance: SummitWest team members are well-versed in California’s environmental regulations and can help clients navigate the complex permitting and compliance requirements. We can assist in obtaining the necessary permits and ensuring adherence to regulations related to land development and use.

Sustainability Planning: Through incorporating sustainability principles into land use planning processes, we can assess the environmental and social impacts of proposed land use changes and provide recommendations for sustainable practices, such as promoting renewable energy, green infrastructure, water conservation, and smart growth principles.

Environmental Resource Management: We are experts in identifying and managing environmental resources within a land use planning context. This may include conducting wetland delineations, assessing wildlife habitat, identifying sensitive ecological areas, and developing strategies to protect and enhance these resources.

Stakeholder Engagement: SummitWest understands the importance of the stakeholder engagement process, and through multiple modes of stakeholder consultation our team ensures that stakeholder concerns and perspectives are incorporated into the planning process.

By combining our extensive environmental consulting expertise with a robust understanding of land use planning regulations and sustainable practices, SummitWest provides valuable insights and recommendations that support responsible and environmentally conscious land use planning in California.

Land Use Planning & CEQA

Land use planning and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) are closely intertwined in the state’s regulatory framework.

Land use planning and CEQA are interconnected in California through the requirement for environmental impact assessment, identification of mitigation measures and alternatives, and public involvement. CEQA plays a vital role in integrating environmental considerations into land use planning decisions, helping to guide sustainable and environmentally conscious development in the state. SummitWest’s team of environmental planning experts are well versed in the labyrinth of these requirements.

Here’s how CEQA and Land Use Planning intermix:

  • CEQA’s Role in Land Use Planning: CEQA is a critical component of land use planning in California. It requires state and local agencies to identify and mitigate potential environmental impacts associated with proposed projects, including changes in land use. CEQA ensures that environmental considerations are integrated into the decision-making process, helping guide land use decisions towards environmentally sustainable outcomes.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment: CEQA mandates the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) or other appropriate documentation for projects that may have significant environmental effects. The EIR assesses the potential impacts on various environmental factors, such as air quality, water resources, biological resources, aesthetics, noise, and traffic. The findings of the EIR inform land use planning decisions, allowing decision-makers to understand the environmental implications of proposed land use changes.
  • Mitigation Measures and Alternatives: CEQA requires that feasible mitigation measures be identified and implemented to reduce or eliminate significant environmental impacts identified in the EIR. It also mandates the consideration of alternatives to the proposed project that would lessen or avoid those impacts. These measures and alternatives can influence land use planning decisions, helping shape development proposals to minimize adverse environmental effects.
  • Public Involvement: CEQA emphasizes public involvement in the environmental review process. It provides opportunities for the public, government agencies, and stakeholders to provide input and express concerns regarding the environmental impacts of proposed projects. This public participation can inform land use planning decisions by incorporating community perspectives and ensuring transparency in the decision-making process.

In need of Land Use Planning or CEQA permitting?