The Land Use Chapter of the Merced Vision 2015 General Plan establishes land use goals and policies, supported by implementing actions, for the manner in which new development will occur and existing uses and resources will be preserved in the City of Merced. The future land use configuration of the City will be shaped through the implementation of this chapter.
Goals, policies and actions of the Land Use Chapter are intended to support and reinforce the current quality of life in the City. The key element of Land Use policy is the General Plan Land Use Diagram (Figure 3.1), which depicts the location of the permitted type and density/intensity of all land uses within Merced’s SUDP. The land use policies contained in this Plan establish order and focus for the City’s land use pattern and provide the framework for future land use planning and decision making in the City of Merced.
The Merced Vision 2015 General Plan Land Use Chapter covers four major issue areas:
The "neighborhood" is the focus of Merced’s residential environment. Much effort has been made to preserve and enhance the City’s residential neighborhoods through policies which seek to protect neighborhoods from incompatible developments and blighting influences.
Policies relating to the promotion of a wide variety of housing types and convenient access to jobs and commercial services, along with the implementation of Merced’s "Urban Village" concept will guide the development of Merced’s future neighborhoods.
The City of Merced will likely continue to be the commercial, financial, and governmental center for Merced County during the coming years. Merced will also likely continue to face high unemployment rates compared to statewide averages. In order to combat this, the City must take an active role in economic and job development.
The Merced Vision 2015 General Plan has taken a long-range view by designating many more sites for future industrial use than are projected to be needed during the 20-year planning period. This was done because of the need for large sites for certain kinds of industries, the lead time needed to provide sites with good access and critical infrastructure, the need to overcome impediments to development on some existing industrial sites, to provide market choice, and to reduce unemployment.
A new land use category, "Business Park," which allows a mix of commercial, office, and industrial uses has been proposed to help combat increasing air quality and traffic concerns.
The Merced Vision 2015 General Plan encourages the development of commercial areas which conveniently serve the residential population, provide employment opportunities, form an attractive segment of the community, and contribute to the community’s tax base. Six different categories of commercial land use are defined within the Plan.
The Plan also promotes the continued vitality of the downtown and economic development efforts such as the Enterprise Zone. The Land Use Diagram proposes five employment areas with high concentrations of commercial and industrial development.
Urban Growth and Design:
Mixed-use and transit- and pedestrian-friendly design concepts are to be applied in the City’s new growth areas and in existing areas where feasible. It should be noted that pedestrian- and transit-friendly design does not mean that the automobile is excluded. It simply means that more consideration is given to more effectively accommodating pedestrians, bicycles, and transit as well as the private automobile. Efficient circulation of automobiles will continue to be emphasized but not to the exclusion of other forms of transportation.
Specific Plans and Master Development Plans:
The City makes use of specific plans and master development plans to master plan large areas. The City has four adopted and four proposed specific plans.
Other highlights of the Land Use Chapter include:
Land use definitions of planned land uses in Merced in residential, commercial, industrial, reserve, open space, and other categories; allowable densities and intensities in each; and, interrelationships among uses;
A table comparing the distribution of planned land uses in the Merced Vision 2015 General Plan with the 1981 General Plan; and,
An analysis of residential, commercial, and industrial land needs through the year 2015.
Chapter 3--Land Use
Goal Area L-1: Residential & Neighborhood Development
Housing Opportunities in Balance with Jobs Created in the Merced Urban Area
A Wide Range of Residential Densities and Housing Typesin the City
Preservation and Enhancement of Existing Neighborhoods
Quality Residential Environments
Pedestrian-Friendly Residential Environments
A Sense of Community
L-1.1 Promote balanced development which provides jobs, services, and housing.
L-1.2 Encourage a diversity of building types, ownership, prices, designs, and site plans for residential areas throughout the City.
L-1.3 Encourage a diversity of lot sizes in residential subdivisions.
L-1.4 Conserve residential areas that are threatened by blighting influences.
L-1.5 Protect existing neighborhoods from incompatible developments.
L-1.6 Continue to pursue quality single-family and higher density residential development.
L-1.7 Encourage the location of multi-family developments on sites with good access to transportation, shopping, and services.
L-1.8 Create livable and identifiable residential neighborhoods.
Goal Area L-2: Economic & Business Development
Increased Employment Opportunities for the Citizens of Merced.
A Diverse and Balanced Merced Economy
Preservation of the City’s Economic Base
High Quality Industrial Areas
Ready Access to Commercial Services Throughout the City
A Revitalized Downtown Area
L-2.1 Encourage further development of appropriate commercial and industrial uses throughout the City.
L-2.2 Locate new or expanded industrial parks in appropriate areas.
L-2.3 Promote the retention and expansion of existing industrial and commercial businesses.
L-2.4 Provide a range of services adjacent to and within industrial areas to reduce auto trips.
L-2.5 Maintain attractive industrial areas.
L-2.6 Provide neighborhood commercial centers in proportion to residential development in the City.
L-2.7Locate and design new commercial development to provide good access from adjacent neighborhoods and reduce congestion on major streets.
L-2.8 Encourage a mixture of uses and activities that will maintain the vitality of the downtown area.
Goal Area L-3: Urban Growth & Design
Living Environments which Encourage People to Use a Variety of Transportation Alternatives
A Compact Urban Village Design for New Growth Areas