Land-use design in California is controlled by local communities through documents known as General Plans. These documents commit city and county governments to long-term economic and development goals that shape the fortunes and health of the jurisdiction through zoning regulations. There is currently little coordination across local jurisdictions or at the state-level for monitoring where and which policies are adopted. This searchable database of California's General Plans is the first of its kind. The portal allows users to review thousands of pages of regulations, read, and compare policy approaches. The goal of this database is to help advocates, policymakers and community members make informed suggestions for their own planning processes. We invite you to search for terms that interest you and to learn from planning efforts in other cities and counties. For corrections, updates, and questions, please contact the lead researcher and project coordinators, Catherine Brinkley or Aniket Banginwar.
Community: Glean ideas for your next plan update. For example, is your community thinking of policies that include "grey water" systems? Find out which other jurisdictions have piloted similar approaches by searching for that term across all plans and reading.
Research: Evaluate plans for innovative and common approaches to model future development. Answer questions like: how many acres of land will be converted to urban development?
Educators: Teach students about civic engagement. Everyone can provide public comment and input on plans. Check out the Community Futures youth engagement toolkit here for more ideas.
Public agencies: Understand where initiatives are gaining ground and where capacity building is needed to create responsive guidance and technical assistance programming.
Advocates: Track progress toward collective goals and review nuanced approaches. How many jurisdictions have climate action plans, for example?
Elected Officials: Compare regional approaches to identify ways to collaborate toward common goals and funding opportunities.
Planning consultants: Identify exemplary plans and celebrate cutting edge updates. When a new plan is adopted, submit it to us!
We are using linguistic analysis to learn which topics plans cover, to what extent, and how those topics relate to one another. We found that language related to housing is often very separate from topics in the rest of the plan. As the housing element portion of a plan is more frequently updated, its related policies evolve separately from other sections of the plan that address greenhouse gas emission reduction, hazard planning and air quality- for example. Our research shows a need to more comprehensively plan for housing along with these other important topics. You can read the study here.
Our team has worked with the California Enivronmental Justice Alliance to assess where and how cities are addressing environmental justice under California SB 1000, “The Planning for Healthy Communities Act”. Here, you can read the results of this research, published in the Journal of the American Planning Association.