Principles for Reinventing the General Plan

Adopted March 25,2011


The reinvented California General Plan will enable communities to build a motivating, yet attainable, vision of their future that is broadly shared and pursued. In too many communities, the current General Plan’s complex requirements, costs and time for preparation, and lack of ongoing political and financial support have undermined its effectiveness. At the same time, many communities are making progress on challenging issues through their general plans. The State and its communities will continue to face problems and possibilities of an unprecedented nature. The General Plan is a more important community anchor than ever. The reinvented General Plan must inspire substantive, actionable and resilient responses to these changing circumstances in every community. To adapt and revive its twin strengths of strong community vision and informed action, the General Plan must be reinvented, according to these Principles:

1: Create a Vision

The Reinvented General Plan starts with providing the forum to anticipate and discuss the community’s future, identify its aspirations and construct an inspiring, shared vision. This vision empowers the community to master challenges and maximize opportunities.

2: Manage Change

The Reinvented General Plan enables the community to understand and proactively address the forces of change. It provides the ideas, data, balance between competing concerns and comprehensiveness that allows the community to make effective choices for both incremental and dramatic changes.

3: Make Life Better

The Reinvented General Plan helps members of the community improve their lives. It is a strategy for land use, housing, infrastructure and mobility and their relation to the economy and the environment that makes life better in every community.

4: Build Community Identity

The Reinvented General Plan expresses people’s pride in what their community is and aspires to be. It builds upon the best aspects of the community’s character and guides development to enhance the unique identity of each district and neighborhood.

5: Promote Social Equity and Economic Prosperity

The Reinvented General Plan ensures that all groups enjoy the benefits of a healthy and prosperous community, with access to housing, transportation, jobs and commerce. It enables a variety of businesses to flourish.

6: Steward and Enhance the Environment

The Reinvented General Plan is the community's key mechanism to balance short-term pressures with long-term stewardship and enhancement of the natural environment, and livability for all groups.

7: Engage the Whole Community

The Reinvented General Plan establishes trust and ownership by including the voices and participation of the entire community. It is organized, written, and illustrated to engage the interest, understanding, and long-term ownership of all residents and businesses.

8: Look Beyond Local Boundaries

The Reinvented General Plan responds to the regional nature of many challenges and opportunities by identifying and building connections between communities, jurisdictions, and agencies. Local decisions are aligned with regional and state needs.

9: Prioritize Action

The Reinvented General Plan is created and written to implement. It is the principal management tool driving budget priorities, public investment, and operational decisions for the community. Local government is held accountable for its successful implementation.

10: Be Universally Attainable

The Reinvented General Plan is achievable for every California community, whatever its size, location, demographics, or revenues. Processes and requirements are streamlined and data is shared between communities to the greatest extent possible, building certainty and conserving time and financial resources.