What is “SOAR”?
SOAR stands for “Save Open-Space and Agricultural Resources” from the title of initiatives submitted to several city councils and the Board of Supervisors
The first SOAR Initiative was approved by the voters in the City of Ventura in 1995. Since the 1995, SOAR initiatives have passed in all major cities in Ventura County, and also on a countywide basis throughout Ventura County. No other county in the United States has more effective protections against urban sprawl. None!
How SOAR Works
The original Napa Valley, California Initiative passed in 1990 was used as a template for the city of Ventura SOAR (passed by voters in 1995), the City of Thousand Oaks measure (adopted in 1996), and the Ventura County SOAR (approved in 1998).
The Napa Valley Initiative was chosen as the template for the Ventura County SOARs because it had withstood legal challenge all the way to the Supreme Court.
The SOAR measure is a General Plan Amendment. California law allows for lawmaking by initiative, including the amendment of city and county General Plans. The SOAR measure prevents changes in specified land use categories of the General Plan unless the land use change is approved by a (simple) majority of voters. In other words it locks in certain land use categories and puts the keys in the hands of the voters.
The requirement of a vote of the people provides greater protection to those valuable resources the measure specifies. For example, the County of Ventura SOAR protects three land use categories: Open space, Agriculture and Rural Land. Parkland is protected by the Thousand Oaks measure.
A second type of SOAR Initiative, called CURB, was devised to further fortify SOAR protected lands. CURB, a companion initiative to the county SOAR, applies to cities. The CURB is an urban boundary line that is drawn around a city and a vote of the people is required before a city can urbanize land outside the CURB line. This double protection precludes instances where a city may annex from the county lands protected by SOAR and develop them without a vote of the people. Sprawling cities often expand outward by annexing more land into their boundaries for urbanization. CURB is an acronym that stands for City Urban Restriction Boundary.