Gain a deeper understanding of the basics of General Plans and some of the sources of information important to understanding Ventura County’s General Plan and its background.
What is a General Plan?
A general plan represents the community’s view of its future and expresses the community’s development goals. The planning horizon for a general plan typically ranges from 15 to 25 years. The County’s General Plan will have a planning horizon of 20 years. California State law requires that each city and county adopt a general plan.
Why update the General Plan?
The County’s current General Plan expires in 2020 and it has not been comprehensively updated since 1988. Since that time, there have been many important changes to state law that dictate what issues must be included in a general plan. For example, state law now requires that we address climate change and the design of streets to better accommodate pedestrians and bicycles.
Most general plans are organized by topics or “elements.” State law requires that every General Plan contain seven elements: Land Use, Circulation, Housing, Conservation, Open Space, Noise, and Safety. State law allows every jurisdiction to decide how to organize its general plan as long as the required elements are included.
The current Ventura County General Plan combines the seven required elements into four broad topic areas:
Resources (Conservation, Open Space)
Hazards (Noise, Safety)
Land Use (Land Use, Housing)
Public Facilities and Services (Circulation)
In addition to the four topic areas, the County’s existing General Plan includes a document called the “Ventura County Goals, Policies, and Programs.” As the name implies, it includes the goals, policies, and programs for all topic areas.
As a part of the General Plan Update, the existing elements may be reorganized and the County will develop three additional elements to address issues related to agriculture, economic development, and water. The General Plan Update will also incorporate the topics of health and climate change.
State law also allows jurisdictions to create plans that apply to specific geographic areas. These are called Area Plans, and the County has several of them. All Area Plans will be evaluated for consistency with the updated General Plan, but the project does not include a concurrent revision of the Area Plans. The County of Ventura’s Area Plans include: