What is a General Plan?
A General Plan is a California state mandated document that guides the future of a city through policy recommendations. These policy recommendations are related to land use, development, growth, and safety. The General Plan includes maps, diagrams, and development goals to achieve the policy recommendations. Per California law, no City action which involves future growth and development can be approved unless the city finds it is consistent with the General Plan.
The General Plan includes chapters called elements which focus on specific areas. There are a number of mandatory elements that need to be included in the General Plan. The mandatory elements for each General Plan are:
- Land Use – focuses on where different uses are located in City limits and City Sphere of Influence. A use could be a residential home, office building, or retail shop.
- Circulation – looks at City’s infrastructure and how it will meet future community needs. Includes roads, water, sewer, stormwater, trails, and communication.
- Conservation – preserves and conserves natural resources in the City
- Open Space – aims to preserve spaces for recreational and aesthetic enjoyment
- Safety – ensures a community is safe from short- and long-term consequence of disasters
- Noise – ensures a community is protected from excessive noise levels
- Housing – contains strategies to supply affordable, high-quality housing options for current and future residents
- Environmental Justice – identifies disadvantaged communities and strategies to ensure their access to a healthy community
Optional Elements may also be included to address community specific needs like economic development, urban design, and air quality.
OPR has updated the General Plan guide as of 2017 to include new General Plan regulations and best practices from other cities and counties. These new mandates and best practices will be incorporated into our General Planning process.