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The City of Rancho Mirage General Plan Update (GPU) is now a two-time award-winning project, having received a Merit Award for Outstanding Planning Document from AEP, and the Merit Award for Best Practices from the APA Inland Empire chapter.  Rincon’s role in the GPU was overall project management, including assisting the City with policy drafting, public outreach, graphic design, environmental analysis, and development of an online mapping tool. Rincon also produced the EIR Addendum to accompany the General Plan.  The objectives of the GPU were to meet the current legal requirements, incorporate new planning concepts, improve the General Plan look and usability, and update the traffic model and mobility element.  So what makes this project stand out? Not only did Rincon create a customized policy document that distinctively represents Rancho Mirage but also created innovative tools the City staff can maintain and utilize to better serve their community.  Rancho Mirage is now equipped to accomplish their vision of a growing and balanced economic base that serves the needs of Rancho Mirage residents, businesses, and visitors, while maintaining the City’s high standards of development and environmental protection through the year 2035.

The interactive online GIS mapping tool was created to allow people to visualize various key data from the General Plan.  It provides direct links to other important resources such as the municipal code, specific plans, school district information, and hazard zones. The interactive map is shown below…

The Elements of the General Plan that underwent substantial updates include Land Use, Circulation, Conservation, Air Quality, Community Design, and Safety. Also, a new Arts and Culture Element was incorporated to guide the development of partnerships and set forth creative strategies to achieve associated economic, social, environmental and community goals. The General Plan Update also included policies and incentives to provide more affordable housing throughout the City and develop a balanced residential environment with access to jobs, community facilities, and services. The following is a list of the major updates that were included within the revamped elements:

The Circulation Element

  • Updated to comply with SB 743, including new criteria to “promote the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the development of multimodal transportation networks, and a diversity of land uses.”
  • Added policies relating to AB 1358 and “complete streets”, including schematic diagrams to illustrate Rancho Mirage’s current complete streets and the City’s vision for ideal complete streets in the future.
  • Added new policies to support the City in developing a system of continuous and convenient bicycle routes and multi-use trails with the goal of connecting places of employment, shopping centers, schools, and other high-activity areas.

The Air Quality Element

  • Updated with policies to further reduce air quality and greenhouse gas emissions throughout the City.
  • Added new policies to require the installation of electric vehicle charging stations for new commercial projects and requiring all buildings, both residential and commercial, to be electric vehicle charging station ready.

The Community Design Element

  • Updated to include policies that encourage conservation of environmental resources and prepare for climate resiliency. For example, climate change resistance is now one of the items to be promoted by the City’s landscape program.
  • Incorporated a City adopted Ordinance which requires all new residential projects to be solar ready.
  • All references to “generous landscaping” were replaced with “drought- and heat-tolerant landscaping,” and to specify the use of “well-placed trees and/or carports” for protection from the desert climate.
  • All policies requiring or encouraging fountains in commercial developments were replaced with support for references plazas, accent lighting, focal landscape features, and various art mediums in addition to the incorporation of permeable paving in new parking lots.

The Safety Element

  • Goals and policies pertaining to climate change were added. Policies include: identify local climate change vulnerabilities; developing adaptation measures to address impacts; support for initiatives, legislation, and actions to respond to climate change; the consideration of potential climate change impacts in planning and decision-making processes; and working with local organizations to raise awareness about climate change impacts

This updated plan and accompanying GIS mapping tool will assist Rancho Mirage reach its full potential as it looks to develop new commercial centers at strategic locations, provide new housing opportunities, continue the beautification of its roadways, and provide community design guidance for public and private realms.  To see more of our awards, click here.  

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