Natomas Joint Vision Brief History

​The Natomas Joint Vision project has been withdrawn and individual landowners have moved forward with their own projects:

Brief Project History and Overview of the Natomas Joint Vision

Competition to Collaboration

In the late 1990s Sacramento City and County were both pursuing projects that would urbanize a substantial portion of the Natomas Basin. Both jurisdictions decided, however, that it would be mutually beneficial to plan the area cooperatively. Starting in 2001, City and County staff met to discuss a process for planning the unincorporated Natomas area. This gave rise to the City/County Joint Vision for Natomas. The two jurisdictions coordinated and along with input from stakeholders created the basic principles for development in the area. 

​View Miscellaneous Background Information - Prepared 1-13-2011

City - County Memorandum of Understanding

On December 10, 2002 the County Board of Supervisors and the Sacramento City Council each approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlined a joint vision for land use and revenue sharing principles for Natomas. The MOU recognized the City as the agent of development and the County as the agent of permanent open space, habitat, and farmland/ranchland preservation. View City-County MOU

The MOU defined a set of guiding principles for the implementation of the following goals:

  • Proactively guide future urban growth for more efficient use of the land, while securing permanent preservation of open space/farmland at a mitigation ratio of at least one-to-one.
  • Improve future air quality through efficient land use, which reduces automobile travel by accommodating future growth according to Smart Growth principles adopted by City Council (Smart Growth Principles/Resolution).
  • Provide for revenue sharing between the City and County to prevent competition for tax revenues and promote balanced regional planning.
  • Protect future airport operations.  

Project Phases​

  1. The 2002 City-County Memorandum of Understanding and the Open Space Program (complete)

  2. The Broad Visioning Process (complete)

  3. An inclusive public stakeholder process to prepare (in progress)
    a.   A conservation strategy amd initiate a new or amended habitat conservation plan (HCP)
    b.   CEQA documents
    c.   City and County General Plan amendments
    d.   A specific/master plan
    e.   Amendment of City's Sphere of Influence or County's Urban Services Boundary

  4.  Annexation or amendment to County's Urban Policy Area and completion of a new or amended HCP

  5. Implementation of development projects

Important Links

  • Natomas Owners Group: A private website provided by land owners in the Natomas area who are funding and participating in the Natomas Joint Vision process. This link is provided for public convenience and is neither maintained nor endorsed by Sacramento County. Note: The website is under construction.
  • Sacramento County Board of Supervisors General Website: Includes information on how to contact Board members 
  • Local Agency Formation Commission General Website: Contains basic information on the annexation process and the function of LAFCo

Early Project History of Natomas Joint Vision

City - County Joint Planning Process -- 2008 - April 2009 --Broad Visioning Process

Through the Broad Visioning Process, a unique image will be crafted that accentuates the Joint Vision Area’s distinctive features and geographic location to balance development and growth with conservation and livability.  The intent is to move away from the status quo of planning for individual projects since analytic processes focused just on proposed projects are unlikely to reveal the full economic impacts or environmental costs of development.

The goals of the Broad Visioning Process are to: 

  • Create a special and unique place
  • Assure quality and consistency in development projects
  • Capitalize on existing assets - airports, freeways, rivers, farmland
  • Locate and employ exemplary cases of urban design complementing (an enhancing) habitat preservation 

The Broad Visioning process represents Phase 2 of the total five phases of the Natomas Joint Vision. City and County staff and representatives of Natomas landowners will lead the process and coordinate the necessary workshops. Technical consultants will be contracted to assist in conducting public outreach meetings, drafting conceptual land use diagrams, and developing an agriculture/open space/habitat strategy with a preliminary biological assessment.

2006 - 2008 -- Open Space Program

The Open Space Program (OSP) was designed to identify mitigation and funding mechanisms to help guide the implementation of open space goals and policies adopted by the City and County in the December 2002 Natomas Joint Vision MOU. The OSP evaluated the habitat-open space-agricultural values of the Natomas Joint Vision area to establish objectivity for decision making. The City and County shared the cost of the OSP.

Four public workshops for the OSP were completed between June 2006 and February 2008. The Final Draft Open Space Program Report was presented to the Board of Supervisors on January 20, 2008 and the City Council on February 12, 2008. The policies and maps in the Report were not adopted by either the County Board of Supervisors or City Council. The Report was received and filed.

The OSP was initially requested by the City Council and County Board of Supervisors to delineate areas best suited for open space preservation and identify associated implementation strategies. Recognizing the complexities of the Joint Vision Area, City and County staff have since been directed to commence with a Broad Visioning Process to study the Area in a more comprehensive and inclusive manner.

Municipal Services Review, Sphere of Influence Amendment and Environmental Impact Report

The City was preparing a Municipal Services Review to provide a public service analysis for their proposed Sphere of Influence Amendment (SOI). This information combined with information from the Open Space Program will provide a framework for project description and any alternatives in the Sphere of Influence Environmental Impact Report.

The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will assess the impacts of actions on biological resources related to the existing Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (NBHCP) and the effects of additional development for the development/preservation balance set out in the NBHCP. The EIR will be prepared for use by the City, County, and LAFCo in their evaluation of the effects of the City’s SOI and necessary text and map amendments to both the City and County General Plans. The EIR was being prepared jointly by LAFCo and the City as co-lead agencies with the County participating as a responsible agency.

The draft Municipal Services Review project framework report and Environmental Impact Report have been delayed pending the development of a more precise project description.

Past Workshops, Hearing and Documents of Natomas Joint Vision

Broad Visioning Process 2008-2009

Workshop #1 - November 12, 2008

Workshop #2 - January 28, 2009

Workshop #3 - March 26, 2009

Workshop #4 Series - Workshops with Planning Commissions, Council and Board

Open Space Program 2006-2008

Workshop #1

Workshop #2

Workshop #3

Workshop #4

Natomas Vision Plan - Board Initiation

On February 7, 2012, the Board of Supervisors initiated a Master Plan process, including the initiation of an amendment to the General Plan to move the Urban Services Boundary (USB) and Urban Policy Area (UPA) within the Plan Area with the boundary locations to be determined through the Master Plan process. The initiation process simply allows the planning and environmental processes to begin.  Full analyses, including public input opportunities, will follow.  Board materials are provided below: ​

Special Planning Area Proceedings Initiation

On January 13, 2010 the Board of Supervisors initiated proceedings for a Special Planning Area zone (SPA).  The Board materials for the SPA Proceedings Initiation hearing are provided below: ​

Related Amendment to the Sacramento County General Plan

In November 2011, the Board of Supervisors approved the 2030 General Plan which included an overlay for the  Plan area.  The overlay reads as follows:​

“Natomas Joint Vision Area.  On December 10, 2002, the Sacramento City Council and Board adopted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining principles of land use and revenue sharing between the City and County of Sacramento for the Natomas area, setting the stage for what has come to be known as the “Natomas Joint Vision.”  The “Natomas Joint Vision Study Area” overlay on the Land Use Diagram indicates the area addressed by this MOU.  The cooperative effort addresses land use, economic development, and environmental opportunities and challenges in Natomas.  The result will be quality development balanced with permanent open space preservation systems.  Additionally, SACOG’s Blueprint shows significant development in the Natomas Joint Vision Area.  Because of the MOU, the Blueprint and the importance of the Natomas Joint Vision Area to the region, the County anticipates development in portions of the Natomas Basin within the timeframe of the General Plan.  Subject to the preparation and certification of the appropriate environmental documentation, this development shall be accomplished either by an expansion of the USB, the City’s Sphere of Influence, or both.  See related policy LU-114 and Implementation Measure C in the “Regional and Local Agency Coordination” section of this Element.”​


Office of Planning and Environmental Review

​Todd Smith, Principal Planner, (916) 874-6918,​

Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo)​

Don Lockhart, Asst. Executive Officer, (916) 874-2937,