Environmental Review & Sustainability

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Historic/Cultural Resource Protection

Mills Act

Native American Consultation 

Climate Action Plan 

Habitat & Open Space 

Environmental Documents

About the Environmental Review Process - California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) 

In 1970, the California State Legislature adopted the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to establish a procedure for evaluating the environmental effects of proposed projects (both public and private). CEQA is used to eliminate or reduce any significant adverse impacts which could occur from an approved project. 

Environmental review is required for most discretionary actions including Subdivision Maps, Site Development Plan Reviews, Major Use Permits, and legislative actions including zone changes, general plan amendments, and code amendments. The environmental review occurs while the application is processed. The environmental determination by staff for a project is made to prepare the appropriate environmental document that can be considered by the decision making authority with the legislative or discretionary application staff recommendation.

In addition to the requirements of CEQA, the City of San Marcos Municipal Code contains additional environmental standards for the City environmental review process in Municipal Code Title 18.

Historic/Cultural Resource Protection

Cultural resources within San Marcos include archaeological and historical objects, sites and districts, historic buildings and structures, cultural landscapes, and sites and resources of concern to local Native American and other ethnic groups. Previously documented cultural resources within the City include prehistoric isolated finds, prehistoric archaeological sites, historic archaeological sites, multi component (prehistoric and historic) archaeological sites, and historic architectural sites. As of 2009, 149 historical and archaeological resource sites were known within San Marcos. The documented history suggests that there may be several resources associated with early settlement development that could be potentially eligible for the California Register of Historical Resources (CRHR) or the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

The documented history of early settlement in the San Marcos Valley suggests there are resources that could be eligible for the CRHR or NRHP. In addition, many buildings that were built during early cityhood will soon be eligible for consideration as historic resources. As San Marcos continues to grow and change over time, the City will continue efforts to preserve prehistoric and historic artifacts, sites, and structures for future generations. Resources such as Heritage Park, the new site of the Bidwell House, are being conserved and cherished. Heritage Park was set aside a as part of Walnut Grove Park, among other conservation efforts, to protect and enjoy the historic resources of San Marcos.

Mills Act

The Mills Act Historical Property Contract Program allows qualifying owners to receive a potential property tax reduction and use the savings to help rehabilitate, restore and maintain their buildings. The Mills Act is the single most important economic incentive program in California for the restoration and preservation of historic buildings by private property owners. Enacted in 1972, the Mills Act legislation grants participating local governments (cities and counties) authority to enter into contracts with owners of qualified historic properties who actively participate in the restoration and maintenance of their properties to receive property tax relief.

The City of San Marcos authorized the creation of a Mills Act Program in 2005 (Resolution 2005-6539) for the preservation of historically significant properties.

Native American Consultation

In 2005, California State Senate Bill 18 took effect to require City governments to consult with California Native American Tribes about proposed land use planning decisions including general plans, specific plans and the dedication of open space for the purpose of protecting cultural places.

In 2014, California State Assembly Bill AB 52 took effect to amend CEQA to mandate lead agencies to consult with California Native American tribes when initiating the CEQA process, if requested in accordance with the legislation.
The City continues to work in partner with the local Native American Tribal governments to protect Tribal Cultural Resources located within the cities jurisdictional boundaries.

Climate Action Plan

Executive Order S-3-05, issued in 2005, established GHG reduction goals for the State of California: reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

In 2006, the governor signed Assembly Bill (AB) 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act, into law. AB 32 established a target to reduce statewide GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and required the California Air Resources Board to develop a policy plan for reaching the 2020 emissions target. The resulting AB 32 Scoping Plan, adopted by the California Air Resources Board in December 2008, calls on local governments to reduce GHG emissions from municipal operations and community-wide activities by approximately 15 percent by 2020.

In 2012, the City of San Marcos completed a comprehensive update to its General Plan, which includes a number of goals, policies and action items aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from both City operations and the community as a whole.

One specific implementation action from the General Plan requires the City to develop a Climate Action Plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with AB 32 and Executive Order S-3-05. The City adopted the Climate Action Plan on September 10, 2013 to mitigate emissions and climate change impacts associated with the General Plan.

The City’s Climate Action Plan implementation efforts are ongoing and information to the public pertaining to these efforts will be available to the public as information becomes available.

Adopted Climate Action Plan - 9/10/13
Climate Action Plan Appendices

Habitat & Open Space

The City of San Marcos has a significant amount of natural communities that support unique habitats like vernal pools, and sensitive plant and wildlife species endemic to the region. Even the lush landscaping and ornamental plantings in suburban areas can provide “green-belts” of vegetative cover and separation between developed urban and suburban areas and natural communities. The City, working with other federal, state, regional, and local agencies, has contributed to SANDAG’s Multiple Habitat Conservation Program (MHCP), and County of San Diego’s North County Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) in an effort to better protect these habitats and species.

Several preserve areas are located throughout the City that is managed by the City, private Homeowners Associations, or Preserve Managers.

For more information about Environmental Review, Planning and Sustainability, please contact Susan Vandrew Rodriguez, (760) 744-1050, ext. 3237.

Planning Division  Associate Planner 
1 Civic Center Drive
San Marcos, CA 92069
(760) 744-1050
Susan Vandrew Rodriguez
(760) 744-1050, ext. 3237