Safety Element Update

The update is happening in coordination with the Housing Element Update. This site provides background on why the Safety Element is being updated, the anticipated schedule for the update, and answers to frequently asked questions. 

 This update will be conducted in collaboration with several jurisdictions in San Mateo County including Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Half Moon Bay, San Bruno, and San Mateo County. Staff will be working closely with project managers from Community Planning Collaborative (formerly Baird + Driskel Planning) and PlaceWorks.

 California State law requires that local governments prepare and adopt a general plan, which is a blueprint for meeting the community’s long-term vision for the future. The safety element is one of the nine State-mandated elements of the general plan. General plan elements are generally composed of background and technical information, goals and policies, and implementation programs describing action items for the future. Recent State of California legislation requires that safety elements be reviewed and updated as necessary alongside the Housing Element 2023 – 2031 update.

The main components of the Safety Element update are:

  1. A vulnerability assessment that integrates updated background information and mapping;
  2. Amendments to goals, policies, objectives, and implementation measures, especially as they relate to climate change resiliency; and
  3. Alignment of programs from other city documents.

 The goal of the Safety Element is to reduce the potential short and long-term risk of death, injuries, property damage, and economic and social dislocation resulting from fires, floods, droughts, earthquakes, landslides, climate change, and other identified hazards.

 In addition, the 2021 Multijurisdictional Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP) will be incorporated into the Safety Element. 

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Safety Element – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Safety Element? 

The safety element is one of the nine State-mandated elements of the general plan. State law requires a local government’s safety element to address protection of its people from unreasonable risks associated with disasters, including earthquakes, floods, fires, and landslides. Other locally relevant safety issues, such as airport land use, emergency response, and hazardous materials spills may also be included. New state laws also require safety elements to address climate change resilience.

How can residents be involved in the update?

Community meetings and workshops will be scheduled throughout the process to receive input from residents. The preliminary project timeline below indicates when community engagement will be incorporated into the process. The public will also have opportunities to review and comment on the document when it is reviewed by Planning Commission and City Council. Members of the public are encouraged to participate in those important discussions.

Why update the Safety Element now?

New state laws require local governments to update their safety elements alongside their housing element updates and require them to include climate adaptation and resilience strategies in the update. California Government Code Section 65302(g) describes required background information and provides policy and program guidance for safety element updates.

  • SB 379: Incorporation of climate change adaptation and resilience, prepare vulnerability assessments to identify the risks from climate change hazards, and develop adaptation and resilience goals, policies, and implementation actions to increase community adaptation and build resilience. (§65302(g)(4))
  • SB 1035: Builds off SB 379 and requires review and update portions of the safety element upon each revision of the housing element or local hazard mitigation plan (LHMP), but not less than once every 8 years. (§65302(c))
  • SB 99: Identify evacuation-constrained areas specifically residential developments in hazard areas that do not have at minimum two evacuation routes. (§ 65302(g)(5))
  • SB 1241: Increased requirements for flood and wildfire sections where responsible agencies are identified for protection against these hazards and refining policies to minimize risk for new buildings and essential facilities. (§65302(g)(1-3))
  • AB 747: Requires jurisdictions to identify evacuation routes and their capacity. safety, and viability under a range of emergency scenarios. *This work is being done as part of a separate effort and is not part of the Multi-jurisdictional Safety Element project. (§65302.15)
  •  AB 2140: Incorporation of the LHMP. (§8685.9, §65302.6))

Why is this a Multijurisdictional Effort? 

For many of these communities, there is a significant amount of overlap in the types of hazard conditions they must address, as well as common service providers, natural resources, and infrastructure. A multijurisdictional Safety Element update process builds on the accomplishments of hazard reduction programs and accomplishments in other jurisdictions, including the recently updated Multijurisdictional Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, and efforts launched by OneShoreline and Sea Change San Mateo County.

How is the Safety Element currently implemented?

The current Safety Element as well as the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan is implemented by several City departments.

  • The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is responsible for implementing those sections of the Safety Element that integrate portions of the Emergency Operations Plan.
  • The Planning Division within the Community Development Department is responsible for implementing the land use portions of the Safety Element.
  • The Building Division within the Community Development Department administers and revises the Building Code to maximize the resilience of new and existing structures.
  • The Fire Department develops and implements regulations like mandated brush clearance.
  • The Safety Element update involves representatives from across these departments to help integrate programs from other plans and review policies for conformity with their programs and responsibilities.

How does the Safety Element relate to the Housing Element?

The Safety Element must be consistent with the General Plan, including the Housing Element. The Safety Element lays the groundwork for citywide hazard planning and programming and identifies measure to minimize impacts of environmental hazards. When considering recommendations to meet the San Bruno’s Housing Needs Allocation, measures to develop housing safely will be considered.

How is climate change and resilience being considered in the Safety Element update? 

Consistent with state guidance on incorporating climate adaptation strategies and implementation measures into safety elements, a vulnerability assessment will be prepared to determine public safety risks from climate change, including flooding, wildfire, drought, extreme heat, sea level rise, and storm activity. The assessment will be shared with the public and discussed during our public outreach.

Safety Element Project Timeline

Project Launch and Community Engagement Plan July 2023 - October 2023
Compile Background Information on Hazards* August 2023 - January 2024
Conduct Vulnerability Assessment* December 2023 - June 2024
Prepare Goals, Objectives, Policies* March 2024 - August 2024
Prepare Implementation Measures* June 2024 - September 2024
Prepare Administrative Draft Safety Element August 2024 - October 2024
Prepare Public Draft Safety Element* November 2024 - March 2025
Conduct Environmental Review* August 2024 - May 2025
Board of Forestry Review (where applicable) December 2024 - February 2025
Public Agency Review/Approval* March 2025 - June 2025

*Staff, community, and stakeholder engagement included in this phase.