San Diego

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General Plans & Community Plans Work Together

The "Big Picture"

Photo of San Diego

The City of San Diego

Many individuals become involved with land use planning when their attention is drawn by a particular issue or development project. The issue may be a proposal to redevelop an aging shopping center, increased traffic on a neighborhood street, or concern over cars being parked on a neighbor’s front yard. Sometimes people become involved in planning due to concern over complex issues, such as global climate change, that require a broad range of actions to help solve. Long range planning offers an opportunity to view problems and potential solutions with a "big picture" perspective that integrates land use, transportation, environmental, and economic disciplines.

General Plan

The General Plan is the foundation upon which all land use decisions in the City are based. It expresses a citywide vision and provides a comprehensive policy framework for how the City should grow and develop, provide public services, and maintain the qualities that define the City of San Diego. The City of San Diego’s General Plan was comprehensively updated in 2008. It does not change land use designations or zoning on individual properties, but rather provides policy direction for future community plan updates, discretionary project review, and implementation programs. It is comprised of an introductory Strategic Framework section which includes the plan’s Guiding Principles, and the following elements: Land Use and Community Planning; Mobility; Economic Prosperity; Public Facilities, Services and Safety; Urban Design; Recreation; Historic Preservation; Conservation; and Noise. The update to the Housing Element was adopted by the City Council on December 5, 2006.

Community Plans

Larger cities often create policy documents for specific geographic areas within the city’s boundaries. The City of San Diego calls its community-based policy documents either community plans or, precise or specific plans. Because of the size and diversity of the communities in the City of San Diego, there are more than 50 planning areas called community plans.

The General Plan and the Community Plans working together

The community plans are a part of the Land Use Element of the General Plan. Community plans provide more detailed land use designations and site-specific policy recommendations than is practical at the citywide level. Community plans typically address community issues such as: the local street and transit network; distinctive environmental characteristics; community landmarks; location, prioritization and provision of public facilities; community urban design guidelines; and identification of gateways. Together, the General Plan and the community plans seek to guide future growth and development to achieve citywide and community level goals. All of the adopted land use plans must be consistent with the goals and policies of the General Plan.