Every city, town, and county in California must have a general plan, which is the local government’s long-term framework or “constitution” for future growth and development. The general plan represents the community’s view of its future and expresses the community development goals. The general plan contains the goals and polices upon which the City Council and Planning Commission will base their land use decisions. Typically, a general plan is designed to address the issues facing the city for the next 20 years.
The general plan is made up of a collection of “elements,” or topic categories. The State currently lists nine elements as mandatory: land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, noise, safety, environmental justice, and air quality. As part of this Update, the City is updating the existing Land Use, Housing, Safety, and Circulation Elements.
A general plan provides general policy guidance that the local government will use to guide future land use and natural resource decisions.
A general plan is comprehensive, covering a range of topics, such as land use, housing, economic development, infrastructure, public safety, recreation, natural resources, and much more.
A general plan provides guidance for reaching a future envisioned 20 or more years in the future. To achieve the vision, a comprehensive plan includes goals, policies, and actions that address both immediate and long-term needs.
A general plan is not to be confused with zoning. Although both the general plan and the zoning ordinance designate how land may be developed, they do so in different ways. A general plan has a broad, long-term outlook. It identifies the types of development that will be allowed, the spatial relationships among land uses, and the general pattern of future development.
A zoning ordinance regulates development through specific standards such as lot size, building setbacks, height, and allowable uses. However, the land uses shown on the general plan diagrams will typically be reflected in the local zoning maps as well and changes to the zoning map are required to be consistent with the adopted general plan map. Development must not only meet the specific requirements of the zoning ordinance but also the broader policies set forth in the general plan.
California requires that every city, town, and county in California create a general plan. The general plan represents the community’s view of its future and expresses the community development goals.
The Technical General Plan Update is being prepared by City staff with direction from the City Council and input from the Planning Commission and the community. The development of the Housing Element is being led by City staff from the Planning Department. To assist in the preparation of the Update, the City has also hired a team of planning specialists that include community planners and technical specialists:
Brent Gibbons, Project Manager