The following glossary provides definitions for the various planning and technical terms and acronyms that can be found in the General Plan or may arise during conversations, analysis, and implementation related to the General Plan. 


Acoustical Engineer.  An engineer specializing in the measurement and physical properties of sound.  In environmental review, the acoustical engineer measures noise impacts of proposed projects and designs measures to reduce those impacts.
Acreage, Gross.  The land area that exists prior to any dedication of land for public use, health, and/or safety purposes.
Acreage, Net.  The portion of a site that can actually be built upon, which is the land area remaining after dedication of ultimate rights-of-way for facilities such as:

  • Public streets
  • Drainage facilities
  • Public  parks and other open space developed to meet minimum standards required by City ordinance
  • Utilities

Acre-Foot.  The volume of water that would cover 1 acre to a depth of 1 foot.  An acre-foot is about the amount of water used each year in and around the home by two average California families, or about 326,000 gallons.

Active Transportation. Non-motorized transportation modes, such as bicycling and walking, that are integrated with public transportation.  

Adaptive Reuse.  The conversion of obsolescent or historic buildings from their original or most recent use to a new use. For example, the conversion of former hospital or school building to a residential use, or the conversion of an historic single-family home to an office use. 

Affordability, Housing.  The ratio of housing costs to household income.

Affordability Requirements. Provisions established by a public agency to require that a specific percentage of housing units in a project or development remain affordable to very low- and low- income households for a specified period.

Affordable Housing.  Dwelling units for which the housing payment is generally not more than 30 percent of household gross income for a specified income group.

Alley. A narrow service way, either public or private, which provides a permanently reserved but secondary means of public access not intended for general traffic circulation. Alleys typically are located along rear property lines.

Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zone.  A regulatory zone, delineated by the State Geologist, within which site-specific geologic studies are required to identify and avoid fault rupture hazards prior to subdivision of land and/or construction of most structures for human occupancy.

Alternative Energy.  See Renewable Energy

Ambient.  Surrounding; used to describe measurements of existing conditions with respect to traffic, noise, air and other environments.

Annex. To incorporate a land area into an existing district or municipality, with a resulting change in the boundaries of the annexing jurisdiction.

Automobile Related Uses.  Uses related to retail or wholesale sales of automobiles, recreational vehicles and boats, automotive repair services, automobile-oriented retail businesses (e.g., auto parts, tires, etc.) and fueling stations.

A-weighted Decibel.  The A-weighted decibel scale discriminates against upper and lower frequencies in a manner approximating the sensitivity of the human ear. The scale ranges from zero for the average least perceptible sound to about 130 for the average pain level.


Below Market Rate Housing.  Below market rate housing refers to housing unit(s) that receive public or private subsidies that make it affordable for a very low, low, or moderate income households (depending on the program) to rent or purchase a housing unit.  It may also be referred to as subsidized housing.

Bicycle Friendly.  Describes policies and practices that may help people feel more comfortable about traveling by bicycle with other traffic. The level of bicycle-friendliness of an environment can be influenced by many factors resulting from transportation planning and infrastructure design decisions.

Bike Path (Class 1 Facility).  Provides a completely separated right-of-way designated for the exclusive use of bicycles and pedestrians with minimal interruption by motor vehicles. A bicycle path may be located on a portion of a street or highway right-of-way or in a special right-of-way not related to a motor vehicle facility. It may be grade separated or have street crossings at designated locations. It may be identified with “Bike Route” signs and also may have pavement markings.

Bike Lane (Class 2 Facility).  Provides a preferential right-of-way designated and striped for the exclusive or semi-exclusive use of bicycles, with some allowances for vehicle parking. It is usually located along the edge of the paved area or between the parking lane and the first motor vehicle travel lane. It is identified by “Bike Lane” or “Bike Route” signage, special lane lines, and other pavement markings. Bicycles have exclusive use of a bicycle lane for longitudinal travel, but must share the facility with motor vehicles and pedestrians crossing it.

Bike Route (Class 3 Facility).  Provides a route designated by signs or permanent pavement markings that is shared with either pedestrians or motorists. There are generally no special lane markings and bicycle traffic shares the roadway with motor vehicles.

Bikeways.  A term that encompasses “bike paths,” “bike paths,” and “bike routes.”

Bond. An interest-bearing promise to pay a stipulated sum of money, with the principal amount due on a specific date. Funds raised through the sale of bonds can be used for various public purposes. 

Brownfield. An area with abandoned, idle, or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.

Buffer.  An area established between potentially conflicting land uses, such as heavy industrial and residential uses, which, depending on the potential impact, may utilize landscaping, earth berms, structural barriers, setbacks, or roads to reduce or eliminate potential impacts.

Buildout. Development of land to its full potential, consistent with current or proposed planning or zoning designations. Full potential may be defined as either: 1) the maximum density or intensity permitted by planning or zoning designations; or 2) a projected level that is generally greater than existing conditions but may be less than the maximum level permitted. 

Buildout, General Plan.  The projected development of land within the General Plan area (City of Clovis, its sphere of influence, and additional unincorporated areas) by the year 2035 and beyond, as permitted by the land use designations. This buildout level is also used as the project analyzed by the General Plan Environmental Impact Report.

Business Incubator.  An organization designed to accelerate the growth and success of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services that could include physical space, capital, coaching, common services, and networking connections. Business incubation programs are often sponsored by private companies or municipal entities and public institutions, such as colleges and universities. Their goal is to help create and grow young businesses by providing them with necessary support and financial and technical services. 


California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  Legislation and corresponding procedural components established in 1970 by the State of California to require environmental review for projects anticipated to result in adverse impacts to the environment.

Capital Improvement Program (CIP).  A program that schedules permanent improvements, usually for a minimum of five years in the future, that fits the projected fiscal capability of the local jurisdiction.  The program generally is reviewed on an annual basis for conformance to and consistency with the General Plan.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2).  An odorless, colorless gas formed during respiration, the combustion of fuels, and certain industrial activities, among other processes. CO2 is the most abundant greenhouse gas, with primary sources from transportation and electrical power generation.

Carbon Monoxide (CO).  An odorless, colorless gas formed by the incomplete combustion of fuels; majority of California CO emissions come from motor vehicles.

Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC).  An ozone-depleting greenhouse gas previously used as a propellant and a refrigerant.

Clear Zone. Areas around runways need to be clear from potential hazards to enhance the safety of the aircraft and its passengers as well as the protection of people and property on the ground.

Commercial Development. Within the General Plan, the term commercial refers to non-residential and non-public/quasi-public uses that involve commerce, i.e., a person or business paying for a good or service. Commercial generally does not include industrial uses. Commercial uses typically occur in a retail store, restaurant, bar, office, or special entertainment or recreation building, like a fitness center or bowling alley. A list of specific uses is identified in the Development Code based on the zoning designation. The term commercial includes all retail uses; however, the term retail refers to a subset of commercial uses. (see Retail Development)

Community Noise Equivalent Level (CNEL).  The energy-average of the A-weighted sound levels during a 24-hour period, with 5 dB added to the levels from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM and 10 dB added from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM.  

Compatible.  Capable of existing together without conflict or ill effects.

Complete Streets.  Streets that comfortably accommodate all users, with particular emphasis on pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transportation, as well as people of all ages and physical abilities. The Complete Streets Act of 2008 requires circulation elements to incorporate multimodal transportation into the General Plan.
A “Complete Streets” transportation network is one that comfortably accommodates all users, with particular emphasis on pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transportation, as well as people of all ages and physical abilities. This does not mean that every individual street be a “complete street” but State law does require that the City plan for transportation networks (which consists of the City’s system of bicycle facilities, sidewalks, other pathways, and roadways) to accommodate all users.

Complete Streets Act. In 2008, the Governor signed Assembly Bill 1358, the California Complete Streets Act. The Act states: “In order to fulfill the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make the most efficient use of urban land and transportation infrastructure, and improve public health by encouraging physical activity, transportation planners must find innovative ways to reduce vehicle miles traveled and to shift from short trips in the automobile to biking, walking and use of public transit.”

The legislation impacts local general plans by adding the following language to Government Code Section 65302(b)(2)(A) and (B): 

(A) Commencing January 1, 2011, upon any substantial revision of the circulation element, the legislative body shall modify the circulation element to plan for a balanced, multimodal transportation network that meets the needs of all users of the streets, roads, and highways for safe and convenient travel in a manner that is suitable to the rural, suburban, or urban context of the general plan.

(B) For the purposes of this paragraph, “users of streets, roads, and highways” means bicyclists, children, persons with disabilities, motorists, movers of commercial goods, pedestrians, users of public transportation, and seniors.Concurrency. Installation and operation of facilities and services needed to meet the demands of new development simultaneous with the development. 

Conditional Use Permit.  The discretionary and conditional review of an activity or function or operation on a site or in a building or facility

Conservation.  The management of natural resources to prevent waste, destruction, or neglect.

Consistency, Consistent With. Free from significant variation or contradiction. The various diagrams, text, goals, policies, and programs in the general plan must be consistent with each other, not contradictory or preferential. The term “consistent with” is used interchangeably with “conformity with.” The courts have held that the phrase “consistent with” means “agreement with; harmonious with.” Webster defines “conformity with” as meaning harmony, agreement when used with “with.” The term “conformity” means in harmony therewith or agreeable to (Sec 58 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen. 21, 25 [1975]). California State law also requires that a general plan be internally consistent and also requires consistency between a general plan and implementation measures such as the zoning ordinance.

Cultural Resources.  Includes historic, archaeological, and paleontological resources, as well as human remains. 
Cumulative Impact.  As used in CEQA, the total environmental impact resulting from the accumulated impacts of individual projects or programs over time.


Decibel (dB).  The unit of measure for loudness based on a logarithmic scale.

Decibel “A-Weighted” (dBA).  The “A-weighted” scale for measuring sound in decibels, which weighs or reduces the effects of low and high frequencies in order to simulate human hearing.  Every increase of 10 dBA doubles the perceived loudness even though the noise is actually ten times more intense.

Dedication. The turning over by an owner or developer of private land for public use, and the acceptance of land for such use by the governmental agency having jurisdiction over the public function for which it will be used. Dedications for roads, parks, school sites, or other public uses often are made conditions for approval of a development by a city or county.

Density, Residential (dwelling units per acre or du/ac).  The number of permanent residential dwelling units per acre of land. 
Design Guidelines. A collection of statements and standards used to evaluate building and site design of proposed development projects through the City’s site plan review process. All property owners, developers and design professionals are encouraged to carefully review applicable design guidelines before commencing planning and design studies, and to consult with City staff should questions or the need for interpretation occur.

Design Review; Development Review.  The comprehensive evaluation of a development and its impact on neighboring properties and the community as a whole, from the standpoint of site and landscape design, architecture, materials, colors, lighting and signs, in accordance with a set of adopted criteria and standards. “Development Review” usually refers to a system established in the Municipal Code, whereby projects are reviewed against certain standards and criteria by a specially established design review board or other body such as the Planning Commission.

Development Fees.  Direct charges or dedications collected on a one-time basis for a service provided or as a condition of approval being granted by the local government.  The purpose of the fee or exaction must directly relate to the need created by the development.  In addition, its amount must be proportional to the cost of the service or improvement.  Fees can be broken down into two major classes: 1) service charges such as permit fees covering the cost of processing development plans, connection or standby fees for installing utilities, or application fees for reviewing and considering development proposals; and 2) “impact” fees levied on new development to cover the cost of infrastructure or facilities necessitated by development.

Development Project.  A project that involves grading, demolition, construction, remodeling, subdivision, new signs, or other land improvement or division for which discretionary planning approvals or building permits are required.

Discourage. To advise or persuade to refrain from. 

Drought-Tolerant Landscaping. Landscaping that uses water-conserving, drought-tolerant plant species that are environmentally and horticulturally adapted to local conditions, and that uses design strategies to minimize water use while maintaining an attractive and neat appearance. It may also be referred to as xeriscape.

Dwelling Unit (du).  A building or portion of a building containing one or more rooms, designed for or used by one household for living or sleeping purposes, and having a separate bathroom and only one kitchen or kitchenette.


Easement. Usually the right to use property owned by another for specific purposes or to gain access to another property. For example, utility companies often have easements on the private property of individuals to be able to install and maintain utility facilities.

Encourage. To stimulate or foster a particular condition through direct or indirect action by the private sector or government agencies.

Endangered Species, California.  A native species or sub-species of a bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, or plant, which is in serious danger of becoming extinct throughout all or a significant portion of its range, due to one or more factors, including loss in habitat, change in habitat, over-exploitation, predation, competition, or disease.  The status is determined by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife together with the California Fish and Game Commission.

Endangered Species, Federal.  A species that is in danger of extinction throughout all, or a significant portion, of its range. The status is determined by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior.

Enhance. To improve existing conditions by increasing the quantity or quality of beneficial uses or features.

Environmental Impact Report (EIR). A report required pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) that assesses all the environmental characteristics of an area, determines what effects or impacts will result if the area is altered or disturbed by a proposed action, and identifies alternatives or other measures to avoid or reduce those impacts.  (See California Environmental Quality Act)

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Under the National Environmental Policy Act, a statement on the effect of development proposals and other major actions that significantly affect the environment. (see National Environmental Policy Act)

Ethos. The distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution.

Exaction. A contribution or payment required as an authorized precondition for receiving a development permit; usually refers to mandatory dedication (or fee in lieu of dedication) requirements found in many subdivision regulations.


Facade.  A building “face” or exterior wall of a building, usually, but not always, the front wall, including all openings and architectural ornamentation, facing a street or public way. The facade is often the most important part of a building from an architectural design standpoint, as it sets the tone for the rest of the building.

Fault.  A fracture or zone of closely associated fractures along which rocks on one side have been displaced with respect to those on the other side. A fault zone is a zone of related faults which commonly are braided, but which may be branching. A fault trace is the line formed by the intersection of a fault and the earth’s surface. 

Feasible. Capable of being done, executed, or managed successfully from the standpoint of the physical and/or financial abilities of the implementer(s). It is a term used in policy and implementation action language that indicates that a decision or action is not mandatory, but should be taken unless one can demonstrate an inability or undue hardship. It should be noted that just because an action or feature is new (i.e., not typically done), or requires some additional expense does not meant that it is infeasible.

Financial Sustainability. The assessment that the city and/or a project will have sufficient funds to meet all its resource and financing obligations over a long period of time (e.g., 20 years), whether these funds come from user charges or budget sources.

Fiscal Impact Analysis. A projection of the direct public costs and revenues resulting from population, employment, or facility change in the jurisdiction. Such an analysis enables local governments to evaluate relative fiscal merits of general plans, specific plans, or projects.

Flood, 100-year.  In any given year, a flood that has a 1 percent likelihood of occurring, and is recognized as a standard for acceptable risk. A 100-year flood event is fairly large but historically infrequent flood. To be precise, it is a flood of a size that is projected to have only a one-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded each year. However, this does not mean that this size of flood will only occur once every 100 years. The likelihood of a 100-year flood occurring within a 100-year stretch of time is actually high, but there is no way to predict when the next flood will occur—or the one after that.

Floodplain.  The relatively level land area on either side of the banks of a stream regularly subject to flooding. 

Floor Area Ratio (FAR).  The intensity of building on a site reflects a combination of a building’s height, lot coverage, and overall massing distribution. To ensure that the building intensity of a project is appropriate for the land use designation and community, a maximum intensity standard is provided in the form of a floor area ratio (FAR). For example, a 60,000 square foot building on a 120,000 square-foot parcel would have a 0.50 FAR. In the General Plan, the FAR calculation excludes floor area used for structured parking to encourage its use and reflect its much higher construction costs.  


Gateway.  Gateways are entry points into key areas, typically a point along a roadway at which a motorist gains a sense of having left the environs of one place and of having entered another place. Gateways should be distinctive and attractive.

General Plan.  A compendium of City policies regarding its long-term development, in the form of maps and accompanying text.  The General Plan is a legal document required of each local agency by the State of California Government Code Section 65301 and adopted by the City Council. California State law requires that a General Plan include elements dealing with seven subjects–circulation, conservation, housing, land use, noise, open space and safety. These can be arranged in a single element for each topic or combined into elements that address multiple topics. For Clovis, the City’s General Plan also includes optional elements on economic development and air quality.

General Plan Amendment (GPA).  A modification made to an adopted General Plan.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS). A combination of approaches, programs, methodologies, and technologies to gather, store, manipulate, analyze, present, and interpret spatial information and data. 

Goal.  A goal is a statement of desired future conditions, regarding a particular topic in the community, toward which effort and resources are directed. A goal may be quantifiable and time-dependent or more abstract in nature.

Green Building. Green or sustainable building is the practice of creating healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance, and demolition. 

Greenhouse Effect.  A term used to describe the warming of the earth’s atmosphere due to accumulated carbon dioxide and other gases in the upper atmosphere. These gases absorb energy radiated from the earth’s surface, “trapping” it in the same manner as glass in a greenhouse traps heat.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG).  A balance of naturally occurring gases in the atmosphere determines the earth’s climate by trapping solar heat through a phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect. GHGs, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and water vapor, keep solar radiation from exiting our atmosphere. In a process very similar to the windows on a greenhouse, GHGs trap so much heat that the temperature within the earth’s atmosphere is rising. GHGs are emitted through both natural processes and human activities. Emissions from human activities, such as electricity production, motor vehicle use, and agriculture, are contributing to the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere and have led to a trend of unnatural warming of the earth’s climate, which is known as global warming.

Groundwater.  Water that exists beneath the earth’s surface, typically found between saturated soils and rock, and is used to supply wells and springs.


Habitat.  The physical locations or types of environments in which an organism or biological population lives or occurs.

Hazardous Material.  Any material that because of its quantity, concentration, or physical or chemical characteristics poses a significant present or potential hazard to human health and safety or the environment if released into the work-place or environment.

Hazardous Waste.   Waste that requires special handling to avoid illness or injury to persons or damage to property. 

Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC).   A gaseous compound that has been used as an ozone-safe replacement for CFCs, but which acts as a potent greenhouse gas.

Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC).  A gaseous compound that has been used as an ozone-safe replacement for CFCs, but which acts as a potent greenhouse gas.

Household.  Person or persons living in one dwelling unit; also an occupied housing unit.


Identity. A consistent quality that makes a city, place, area, or building unique and gives it a distinguishing character.

Image. The mental picture or impression of a city or place taken from memory and held in common by members of the community.

Impervious Surface.  Surface through which water cannot penetrate, such as a roof, road, sidewalk, or paved parking lot.  The amount of impervious surface increases with development and establishes the need for drainage facilities to carry the increased runoff.

Implementation Action. Activities, procedures, programs, or techniques that are used to achieve goals or carry out policies. This includes one-time initiatives by the City (e.g., zoning code update to reflect changes in a general plan), decisions on public and private development projects, municipal operational programs, capital improvements, and partnerships with jurisdictions or agencies. It can also include specific efforts or decisions that are made on an ongoing or periodic basis.

Income, Above-Moderate.  A household whose income exceeds 120 percent of the County median income.

Income, Extremely-Low.  “Extremely Low Income Household” shall mean persons and families whose household income does not exceed the qualifying limits for Extremely Low Income Households as established and amended from time to time in California Health & Safety Code §50106, as such limits are published annually by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Income, Low.  “Low Income Household” shall mean persons and families whose household income does not exceed the qualifying limits for lower income families as established and amended from time to time pursuant to Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937, as such limits are published annually by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, pursuant to Section 50079.5 of the California Health and Safety Code.

Income, Median.  “Median Income” shall mean the median household income for the County of Fresno, as published annually by the State of California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Income, Moderate.  “Moderate Income Household” shall mean persons or families whose gross incomes do not exceed 120% of the Median Income adjusted for family size in accordance with adjustment factors adopted by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, as published annually by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, pursuant to Section 50093 of the California Health and Safety Code.

Income, Very-Low.  “Very Low Income Household” shall mean persons and families whose household income does not exceed the qualifying limits for Very Low Income Households as established and amended from time to time pursuant to §10105(a) of the California Health & Safety Code, as such limits are published annually by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Infill Development.  Development that occurs on vacant or underutilized land within areas that area already largely developed.

In-lieu Fee.  Cash payments that may be required of an owner or developer as a substitute for a dedication of land for public use, usually calculated in dollars per lot, and referred to as in-lieu fees or in-lieu contributions.

Intelligent Transportation System. Advanced applications that aim to provide innovative services relating to different modes of transportation and traffic management and enable various users to be better informed and make safer, more coordinated, and ‘smarter’ use of transportation networks.


Jobs/Housing Balance.  A ratio expressed as the jobs in an area divided by the number of dwelling units or households. It may be used to describe the adequacy of the housing supply within a defined area to meet the needs of persons working within the same area. Due to the wide geographic distribution of job opportunities in California jurisdictions, it is generally considered by local and regional planning agencies to be informative when looking at a subregion or region. However it should not be relied upon for making decisions at a local level within a single jurisdiction.


No terms are provided that begin with this letter.


Landslide.  A general term for a falling, sliding, or flowing mass of soil, rocks, water, and debris. Includes mudslides, debris flows, and debris torrents.

Landmark.  A building, site, object, structure, or significant tree, having historical, architectural, social, or cultural significance and marked for preservation by the local, state, or federal government. A landmark may also be a visually prominent or outstanding structure or natural feature that functions as a point of orientation or identification.

Landscaping. Planting areas including trees, shrubs, and ground covers that are suitably designed, selected, installed, and maintained as to permanently enhance a site or roadway.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).  A voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing and rating high-performance, sustainable “green” buildings.  LEED provides a complete framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals, such as water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.  

Level of Service (LOS) Standard.  A standard used by government agencies to measure the quality or effectiveness of a municipal service, such as police, fire, or library, or the performance of a facility, such as a street or highway. It is primarily used in the General Plan to refer to the general measure of traffic operating conditions whereby a letter grade, from LOS A (no congestion) to F (high levels of congestion), is assigned. LOS E applies to “at capacity” operations.

Life-cycle Costing. A method of evaluating a capital investment that takes into account the sum total of all costs associated with the investment over the lifetime of the project.

Light Pollution, Spillover, or Trespass.   Unwelcome light spilling off originating property. Typical causes include poorly shielded lights that are aimed partially horizontally, not down, and too much light power.

Liquefaction.  A process by which water-saturated granular soils transform from a solid to a liquid state during strong ground shaking. 

Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO).  A five- or seven-member commission within each county that reviews and evaluates all proposals for formation of special districts, incorporation of cities, annexation to special districts or cities, consolidation of districts, and merger of districts with cities. Each county’s LAFCO is empowered to approve, disapprove, or conditionally approve such proposals.


Maintain. To keep in an existing state; do not allow to deteriorate. 

Mansionization. New construction or additions on residentially-zoned lots that are out-of-scale with the surrounding neighborhood, but which comply with the current zoning regulations. 

Master Plan. The City may require project applicants to demonstrate how the development of their individual project may work with surrounding developed and undeveloped properties. The goal is the development of the area that appears seamless when completed. Put another way, an area may develop in an incremental fashion but ultimately results in what appears to be a unified, comprehensive development that provides safe and efficient access and well-designed spaces.

Accordingly, the City may request that a master plan be developed for the area, generally defined as the quarter-section (160 acres) or the adjacent area bounded by major arterials, canals, or other major geographical features. The plans should address project design, housing mix, supply and distribution of parks, and circulation for vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians.

A master plan may be required for the first applicant and/or any subsequent applicants. Furthermore, a master plan may require that an applicant address areas that they do not own or otherwise control. The City recognizes that such master plans are conceptual in nature and do not impose requirements upon or guarantees for properties outside of the applicant’s control. The City encourages the applicant to coordinate with adjacent property owners and the City in developing the master plan.

A master plan may also be referred to as a “project area master plan” or “conceptual master plan.” Additional requirements may be imposed in the Development Code.

May. That which is permissible. It is not required, prohibited, encouraged, or discouraged.

Minimize. To reduce or lessen, but not necessarily to eliminate.

Mitigate. To ameliorate, alleviate, or avoid to the extent reasonably feasible.

Mitigation. A specific action taken to reduce environmental impacts to insignificant levels.  Mitigation measures are required as a component of an environmental impact report (EIR).

Mixed Use.  Any mixture of residential dwellings and non-residential land uses on a single parcel, such as dwellings combined  with offices, retail, or other non-residential uses or multiple buildings with different uses on a single parcel where the different types of land uses are in proximity and planned as a unified, complementary, and cohesive whole.  As distinguished from a single use land use designation or zone, mixed use refers to an authorized variety of uses for buildings and structures in a particular area. 

Mixed Use, Horizontal.  Mixed use, horizontal: Two or more different types of uses are placed next to each other, planned as a unit, and connected together with pedestrian and vehicular access. For instance, multiple family building that is adjacent to a neighborhood commercial development and office complex.

Mixed Use, Vertical. Where two or more different uses occupy the same building—usually on different floors. For instance, retail on the ground floor and office and/or residential uses on the second and/or third floors.

Modal Shift.  The percent change in the number of trips made within, or originating from, a specific geographic area during a defined period and using specific transportation methods or “modes”, such as cycling, walking, riding public transit and driving automobiles.  For example, a modal shift increase of 15 percent in bicycle use means that the number of bicycle trips in an area increased 15 percent over a previous period.

Multimodal Network.  A transportation network that is designed and or operated in a manner that meets transportation needs for different types of users, such as bicyclists, pedestrians, public transit users, and motorists.

Multimodal Transportation.  Refers to multiple modes of transportation, including, but not limited to pedestrian, bicycle, automobile, or transit forms of travel.

Must. That which is mandatory.


National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). An act passed in 1974 establishing federal legislation for national environmental policy, a council on environmental quality, and the requirements for environmental impact statements. 

Necessary. Essential or required.

Nitric Oxide (NO).  A gaseous compound that may result from combustion or industrial processes.  It is a precursor to nitric acid, which contributes to acid rain, and contributes to the depletion of stratospheric ozone.

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).  A reddish brown gas that is a byproduct of the combustion process and is a key to the ground-level ozone production process.

Nitrous Oxide (N2O).  A colorless gas that is byproduct of the combustion process and certain industrial process.  It has certain industrial and clinical applications and is both a precursor to ground level ozone and a greenhouse gas.

Noise Contour.  Areas around a noise source with equal levels of noise exposure. Noise contours are drawn similar to a topographic map.

Noise-Sensitive Use or Sensitive Land Use. A location where people reside or where the presence of unwanted sound could adversely affect land use. Sensitive land uses include schools, hospitals, senior housing and convalescent facilities, residential uses, places of worship, libraries, and passive outdoor recreation areas.

Non-Conforming Use. Nonconforming buildings and uses shall be those buildings and uses lawful when established but which do not conform to subsequently established zoning regulations. (See Section 9.3.310, Nonconforming buildings and uses, in the Clovis Municipal Code) 


Overcrowding.  When occupancy exceeds more than one person per room (excluding the kitchen and bathrooms).

Overlay.  A land use designation or zoning designation that modifies the basic underlying designation or designations in some specific manner. Typically, the overlay provides additional or optional policies or standards, depending on the individual overlay.

Ozone (O3).  An oxidant, O3, that at ground level makes up the largest single portion of smog.  In the upper atmosphere, the presence of ozone acts as a protectant against harmful ultraviolet rays.


Parcel.  A lot, or contiguous group of lots, in single ownership or under single control, usually considered a unit for purposes of development.

Parking, Shared. A public or private parking area used jointly by two or more uses that would otherwise require their own separate parking areas. Typically, shared parking implies a reduction in overall parking spaces than would be required for the two (or more) uses if considered separately.

Parking, Stacked.  Involves trained car valets parking cars bumper-to-bumper in a parking lot or structure to maximize space. Another form of stacked parking uses involves a complex hydraulic system with individual slots for vehicles that can be moved horizontally or vertically to maximize space.  

Parkway or Parkway Strip. A piece of land located between the rear of a curb and the front of a sidewalk, usually used for planting low ground cover and/or street trees, also known as “planter strip.”

Particulate Matter.  Minute, separate airborne solid or liquid particles including smoke, dust, aerosols, metallic oxides, and pollen.

Paseo.  A walkway that allows pedestrians to travel between buildings, linking points of activity, and which are designed to provide a welcoming and aesthetically appealing experience through the use of architectural and landscape elements.

Peak Hour Traffic.  The number of vehicles passing over a designated section of a street during the busiest one-hour period during a 24-hour period.

Peak Water Supply. The supply of water available to meet both domestic water and firefighting needs during the particular season and time of day when domestic water demand on a water system is at its peak.

Pedestrian Experience. The experience had by pedestrians while walking or exploring urban environments. The experience typically includes visual qualities of the streetscape, behaviors of other people, ability to access areas of interest, comfort, traffic density, and sidewalk safety. 

Pedestrian Facilities.  Facilities that enhance pedestrian experience, including but not limited to clean sidewalks, parkway plantings, street trees, plazas, bus stop signage and benches, trash receptacles (where appropriate), lighting, and other features that help improve pedestrian safety, comfort, and convenience.

Plan or Planning Area. The area directly addressed by the General Plan. A city’s general plan planning area typically encompasses the city limits and its sphere of influence (SOI). For Clovis, the planning area includes its SOI and additional unincorporated areas as mapped in the Land Use Element.

Policy. A specific statement that guides decision making and indicates an intended level of commitment of the local legislative body to a particular course of action. If you are faced with a decision on this subject, here is the policy you are to follow. A policy is based on and helps implement a goal and is carried out by an implementation action(s). The level of commitment to a policy is frequently indicated by the use of the words may, must, require, shall, or should. If such words are absent, then the level of commitment is equivalent to the definition of “should” and is to be honored in the absence of compelling or contravening considerations. (See Should)

Preserve. To keep safe from destruction or decay; to maintain or keep intact. 

Program.  An action, activity, or strategy carried out in response to adopted policy to achieve a specific goal or objective. Policies and programs establish the “who,” “how” and “when” for carrying out the “what” and “where” of goals and objectives.

Protect. To maintain and preserve beneficial uses, structures, or areas in their present condition as nearly as possible.


Quimby Act.  Authorizes cities and counties to pass ordinances requiring that developers set aside land, donate conservation easements, or pay fees for park improvements. Revenues generated through the Quimby Act must be used for the acquisition and development of park facilities.


Redevelop. To demolish existing buildings; or to increase the overall floor area existing on a property; or both; irrespective of whether a change occurs in land use. 

Regional. Pertaining to activities or economies at a scale greater than that of a single jurisdiction, and affecting a broad geographic area.

Regional Housing Needs Assessment.  The Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) is an assignment of development potential by income category. Since the RHNA is based on regional growth projections, the RHNA is considered a community’s share of the regional projected housing demand. The RHNA represents development potential during a time frame established by the state, called a planning period. 

Rehabilitation. The repair, preservation, and/or improvement of substandard conditions for a structure and/or area.

Renewable Energy.  Energy derived from resources that are naturally replenished on a human timescale such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat.

Restore. To renew, rebuild, or reconstruct to a former state.

Require. To specify as compulsory and/or necessary.

Restrict. To check, bound, or decrease the range, scope, or incidence of a particular condition.

Retail Development. Within the General Plan, the term retail refers to businesses that are allowed pursuant to the Development Code and that are identified in the North American Industrial Classification System (NACIS) as:

  • 442   Furniture and Home Furnishings Stores
  • 443   Electronics and Appliance Stores
  • 444   Building Material and Garden Equipment and Supplies Dealers
  • 445   Food and Beverage Stores
  • 446   Health and Personal Care Stores
  • 447   Gasoline Stations
  • 448   Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores
  • 451   Sporting Goods, Hobby, Musical Instrument, and Book Stores
  • 452   General Merchandise Stores
  • 453   Miscellaneous Store Retailers
  • 7224   Drinking Places (Alcoholic Beverages)
  • 7225   Restaurants and Other Eating Places

The term retail often refers to a subset of uses within the broader category of commercial uses. (See Commercial Development)

Retrofit. To add materials and/or devices to an existing building or system to improve its operation, safety, or efficiency. For example, buildings have been retrofitted to use solar energy or to strengthen their ability to withstand earthquakes.

Right-of-Way (ROW). The land on which a roadway and/or utilities is located. Highway and utility right-of-ways are owned and maintained by the agency having jurisdiction over that specific roadway or utility.


Safe Routes to Schools.  Pedestrian and bicycling routes that provide safe access to and from schools. This may involve bikeways, crosswalks, pedestrian bridges, and other design features that can affect the public right-of-way or, in some cases, private property.

Second Unit.  Small, separate living quarters located on the same site as a single-family detached home. A second unit can be rented, but cannot be sold separately from the main house.

Sensitive Land Uses.  See Noise-Sensitive Use

Sensitive Receptors.  Include those segments of the population that are most susceptible to poor air quality, such as children, elderly people, and sick people, as well as sensitive land uses, such as schools, hospitals, parks, and residential communities. Air quality problems intensify when sources of air pollutants and sensitive receptors are located near one another. 

Shall. That which is obligatory; an unequivocal direction.

Should. Signifies a directive to be honored if at all possible; a less rigid directive than “shall,” to be honored in the absence of compelling or contravening considerations.

Slope Failures.  Includes two types, major slide masses such as landslides and minor soil slips like mud or debris flows. Slope failures can occur on natural or man-made slopes. Failures are often the result of interrelated natural hazards, earthquake-induced rockfall, or storm induced mudflows.

Specific Plan.  Under Article 8 of the Government Code (Section 65450 et seq), a legal tool for detailed design and implementation of a defined portion of the area covered by a General Plan.  A specific plan may include all detailed regulations, conditions, programs, and/or proposed legislation which may be necessary or convenient for the systematic implementation of any General Plan element(s).  The contents are similar to those of a general plan except they will be more comprehensive with respect to utilities and public facilities and their funding. 

If a specific plan essentially provides more detailed policy guidance, it is a “policy” level plan and is adopted by resolution. If it establishes development regulation, it is a “regulatory” specific plan and becomes customized zoning for the affected property, and is adopted by ordinance.

Government Code Section 65451 identifies the required contents of a specific plan:

(a) A specific plan shall include a text and a diagram or diagrams which specify all of the following in detail:

(1) The distribution, location, and extent of the uses of land, including open space, within the area covered by the plan.

(2) The proposed distribution, location, and extent and intensity of major components of public and private transportation, sewage, water, drainage, solid waste disposal, energy, and other essential facilities proposed to be located within the area covered by the plan and needed to support the land uses described in the plan.

(3) Standards and criteria by which development will proceed, and standards for the conservation, development, and utilization of natural resources, where applicable.

(4) A program of implementation measures including regulations, programs, public works projects, and financing measures necessary to carry out paragraphs (1), (2), and (3).

(b) The specific plan shall include a statement of the relationship of the specific plan to the general plan.

Sphere of Influence (SOI).  The probable, ultimate physical boundaries and service area of the city, as determined by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) of the county. 

Stormwater Runoff.  Storm water runoff refers to seasonal rainfall flows. It is very noticeable during a heavy rain storm when large volumes of water drain off paved areas. 

Street Furniture. Those features associated with a street that are intended to enhance that street’s physical character and use by pedestrians, such as benches, trash receptacles, kiosks, lights, newspaper racks.

Subdivision.  The division of a lot, tract, or parcel of land into two or more lots, tracts, parcels, or other divisions of land for sale, development, or lease.

Subsidence.  The gradual sinking of land as a result of natural or man-made causes.

Sulfur Dioxide.   The chemical compound with the formula SO2. It is a toxic gas with a pungent, irritating smell, that is released in various industrial processes.

Sustainable.  Describes practices that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 


Threatened Species, California.  A native species or sub-species of a bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, or plant that, although not presently threatened with extinction, is likely to be-come an endangered species in the foreseeable future in the absence of special protection and management efforts required by Chapter 1.5 of the State Department of Fish and Game Code.

Threatened Species, Federal.  A species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

Traffic Calming.  Measures designed to reduce motor vehicle speeds and to encourage pedestrian use, including but not limited to: 

  • Narrow streets
  • Tight turning radii
  • Sidewalk bulbouts
  • Parking bays
  • Textured paving at intersections
  • Parkways between sidewalks and streets
  • Chicanes
  • Speed tables

Transit Oriented Development (TOD).  Residential and commercial areas designed to maximize access by public transportation, such as trains and buses. TODs typically have a neighborhood center with a transit station (bus or rail), surrounded by higher-density development, with progressively lower density spreading outwards.

Transitional Housing. Rental housing operated under programs that provide assistance for stays of at least six months.

Transportation Demand Management.   Application of strategies and policies to reduce travel demand (specifically that of single-occupancy private vehicles), or to redistribute this demand in space or in time.


Undue. Improper, or more than necessary.

Unincorporated Area.  Encompasses properties that are located outside of cities.  Development in the unincorporated area is subject to County jurisdiction, even if the unincorporated area is within a city’s sphere-of-influence.

Universal Access. Accessibility to buildings, facilities and services to people with and without disabilities.

Urban Forest. Collectively refers all of the trees growing within Clovis.  The urban forest can include the trees along streets, within parks and other public spaces, or in the yards of private citizens. 

Urban Runoff.  Urban runoff can happen anytime of the year when excessive water use from irrigation, car washing and other sources carries litter, lawn clippings and other urban pollutants into storm drains. 


Vegetative Cover.  Collective term for vegetation covering the ground.

Vehicle Trip.  A trip made by a vehicle (may equal one or more person-trips).


Wastewater.  Water that has already been used for washing, flushing, or in a manufacturing process, and therefore contains waste products such as sewage or chemical byproducts.

Watershed.  The total area above a given point on a watercourse that contributes water to the flow of the watercourse; the entire region drained by a watercourse.

Wayfinding.  Ways in which people orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place. Signage is an obvious wayfinding method. Other methods include continuous landscaping, visible landmarks, distinctive paving/sidewalks, etc.

Wetlands.  An area that is inundated or saturated by surface water or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions.

Wildland Fire.  A fire occurring in a suburban or rural area which contains uncultivated lands, timber, range, watershed, brush or grasslands. This includes areas where there is a mingling of developed and undeveloped lands.

Will. That which is expected or may be expected. Expresses intent or purpose.


Xeriscape.  See Drought-Tolerant Landscaping


No terms are provided that begin with this letter.


Zoning Ordinance.  Title 9 of the City of Clovis Municipal Code, also known as the Development Code or Zoning Code.