General Plan Guidelines

Update to the General Plan Guidelines

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research has been engaged in a thorough update of the General Plan Guidelines (GPG). The new GPG will include resources, data, tools, and model policies to help cities and counties update their general plans, and has been informed by extensive outreach and collaboration.

A General Plan is the local government’s long-term blueprint for the community’s vision of future growth. OPR is responsible for updating the General Plan Guidelines – the “how to” resource for drafting a general plan. OPR also monitors general plan implementation with annual progress reports from cities and counties, and grants general plan extensions for qualified cities and counties.

The public comment draft of the update to the General Plan Guidelines for the State of California was posted in October in 2015. The public comment period is now closed.

OPR held multiple community outreach events and public workshops in 2015 for the draft GPG update. Planners, practitioners, and community members were invited to attend and learn about the updated guidelines, ask questions, and share their feedback. The basic PowerPoint presented at the public workshops shows the approach to the 2017 General Plan Guidelines

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General Plan Guidelines
The 2003 General Plan Guidelines provides guidance to cities and counties in the preparation of their local general plans. In addition to the 2003 Guidelines, three subsequent supplements were also developed.

Fire Hazard Planning, General Plan Technical Advisory The goal of the Fire Hazard Planning, General Plan Technical Advisory is to help provide a robust fire hazard mitigation program to California communities. Development and incorporation of effective policies in the General Plan as well as the integration of the General Plan with other relevant hazard reduction policies, plans, and mitigation activities are essential actions to achieve this goal. This advisory is designed to assist city and county planners in discussions with fire mitigation, preparedness, and response professionals for the purpose of developing effective fire hazard policies for the General Plan.

Community and Military Compatibility Planning, Supplement to the General Plan Guidelines
The Community and Military Compatibility Planning, Supplement to the General Plan Guidelines (Military Supplement) assists cities and counties in addressing military compatibility issues when developing, updating or significantly amending their general plans. These guidelines are the result of the passage of SB 1468 (Knight, 2002) and SB 1462 (Kuehl, 2003), which outline the responsibilities of cities and counties regarding the military in the planning and land use decision-making process.

Update to the General Plan Guidelines: Complete Streets and the Circulation Element This December 2010 update to the 2003 General Plan Guidelines provides guidance on how cities and counties can 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.

Annual Progress Reports
General law cities, applicable charter cities, and counties are required to file annual progress reports on the implementation of their General Plan with their local legislative body, OPR and the Department of Housing and Community Development. These reports are due April 1st of each year.

General Plan Extensions
The Director of OPR is authorized to grant reasonable extensions of time (up to two years) for the preparation of new general plans or the update of existing general plans upon application by cities or counties. The statutory basis of this authority and OPR's procedures and criteria for granting extensions are described here.

Local and Tribal Consultation
State planning law requires cities and counties to consult with California Native American tribes during the local planning process for the purpose of protecting Traditional Tribal Cultural Places. OPR’s consultation guidelines, background information, and training session information are all available online.