GENERAL PLAN BASICS
What is a General Plan?
The General Plan is a regulatory document that provides a framework for decision making by establishing goals and policies to guide a community in realizing its future vision. California Government Code Section 65300 requires the legislative body of each city to adopt a comprehensive, long-term general plan for the physical development of the community and provides a list of topics that must be addressed by the general plan. City councils and planning commissions use the goals and policies of a general plan to make decisions regarding land use, housing, mobility, infrastructure, and open space and parks needs. General plans focus on long-term goals and look at least 20 years into the future.
General Plan Vision
The Palm Springs vision statement serves as the foundation for all of the goals and policies contained within the General Plan. The vision serves as the “common ground” from which all decisions are made, and it identifies priority areas where resources should be focused to ensure that our city continues to be a great place to live, work, and recreate.
The following vision statement, was established during the 2007 General Plan Update. In the upcoming months, we will be asking residents and stakeholders to review the existing vision to confirm that it reflects the City’s contemporary values and goals moving forward to the year 2040.
PALM SPRINGS VISION
A world-renowned desert resort community where residents and visitors enjoy safe neighborhoods, an exciting social environment and a relaxing leisure experience.
We enhance our natural, cultural, and historical resources with sustainable economic growth and high style.
We provide responsive, friendly and efficient public services within a government that fosters unity among all our citizens.
ELEMENTS OF A GENERAL PLAN
Land Use: The land use element describes objectives, policies, and programs for areas within a jurisdiction’s boundaries in both narrative and graphic terms and establishes development criteria and standards, including building intensity and population density. Land use categories are used to depict the general distribution, location, and extent of public and private uses of land.
Circulation: Includes the identification, location, and design of existing and proposed major thoroughfares, transportation routes, pedestrian connections, bicycle facilities, public transit options, trails, and local public utilities and facilities. It serves as an infrastructure plan and must be correlated with the land use element.
Housing: Analyzes housing needs for all income groups and demonstrates how to meet those needs. State law requires that this element be revised, at a minimum, every five years.
Conservation: The primary focus of the conservation element is preservation of Palm natural resources. The element addresses the identification, conservation, development, and use of resources including energy and natural gas, water and natural landforms. For Palm Springs, the Conservation Element is merged with the Open Space Element.
Open Space: Intends to provide a plan for the long-term preservation of open space. It must specify plans and measures for preserving open space for natural resources, for managing the production of resources, for outdoor recreation, and for public health and safety. For Palm Springs, the Open Space Element is merged with the Conservation Element.
Noise: Identifies and analyzes projected noise conditions in the community and must include measures to abate or mitigate potential noise levels.
Safety: Identifies seismic, geologic, flood, and wildfire hazards, evacuation routes, and establishes policies to protect the community from them.
Optional Elements: In addition to the elements required by state law, a city or county may adopt other elements that relate to its growth over time. Common themes for optional elements include: recreation, air quality, historic preservation, community design, and economic development. Optional elements have the same force and effect as the statutory elements. The Palm Springs General Plan contains two optional elements: Air Quality and Community Design.
HOW DO THESE ELEMENTS WORK TOGETHER?
All elements have equal legal status so no element has legal supremacy over another. State law requires the elements of a general plan to be internally consistent, meaning the goals, policies, and implementation measures cannot conflict with one another, and they must be consistent. For example, if the Land Use Element identifies an increase in development potential, then the Circulation Element (roadway capacity) must also address this anticipated change. Optional elements may also be added that the City and residents identify as specific needs of their City.
It is important to note that state law provides local jurisdictions the flexibility to determine the structure of their General Plans. For instance, a city or county may combine one or more elements or structure the General Plan by issue. What is important is that the General Plan and its elements satisfy the minimum requirements as to content, format, and procedure.