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California law requires that each county and city develop and adopt a General Plan to function as the "blueprint" or constitution for its physical development. The Plan generally serves as a roadmap guiding new development and directing policy actions in a manner that furthers the long-term vision for the community.
The General Plan contains seven state-mandated elements that describe community goals and objectives: Land Use, Housing, Circulation, Noise, Safety, and Open Space/Conservation, as well as a section on Economic Development.
State law does not mandate how often the General Plan must be updated, except for the Housing Element, which is required to be updated every eight (8) years.
Recent state mandates and regional plans that addressed in the General Plan include:
- New Housing Element requirements (the State mandates that local governments adequately plan to meet the existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community and new laws are periodically enacted to strengthen these provisions). Find out more
- Climate change initiatives such as AB 32 and SB 375, which intend to achieve statewide 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050; and
- The San Diego Association of Government's (SANDAG) San Diego Forward, The Regional Plan, including a Sustainable Communities Strategy for the region, emphasizing regional land use planning and transportation coordination to promote sustainability and offer more mobility options.