What is a General Plan?

A general plan represents the community’s view of its future and expresses the community’s development goals. California State law requires that each city and county adopt a general plan. The planning horizon for a general plan typically ranges from 15 to 25 years. The County’s 2040 General Plan has a planning horizon of 20 years, beginning with its adoption in 2020 and designed to continue until 2040. 

What is the 2040 General Plan?

The Ventura County 2040 General Plan is a long-range plan that guides decision-making, establishes rules and standards for development and county improvements, and helps to inform residents, developers, and decision-makers. It reflects the County’s vision for the future, provides direction through the year 2040 on growth and development, and is an expression of the quality of life in Ventura County.

Get to know more about the 2040 General Plan by clicking on your area of interest:

Why update the General Plan?

The County’s superseded General Plan was initially written in 1988, received a technical update in 2005, and was designed to expire in 2020. Since being written in 1988, 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 certain elements: Land Use, Circulation, Housing, Conservation, Open Space, Noise,  Safety, and Environmental Justice. Other elements may be included that address issues of local concern, such as economic development, agriculture, or water. (Gov. Code, § 65303). Under state law, if optional elements are included in the general plan, they carry the same weight of law as those that are legally mandated. Jurisdictions may organize general plans in anyway provided the plan addresses the required topics.

State law allows every jurisdiction to decide how to organize its general plan as long as the required elements are included. Learn more about the about how the 2040 General Plan is organized at 2040 General Plan Organization.

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. The County of Ventura’s Area Plans can be accessed online at  vcrma.org/area-plans.