A general plan is a broad planning guideline to a city's or county's future development goals and provides policy statements to achieve those development goals. Each city and county adopts and updates their General Plan to guide the growth and land development of their community, for both the current period and the long term. The General Plan is the foundation for establishing goals, purposes, zoning and activities allowed on each land parcel to provide compatibility and continuity to the entire region as well as each individual neighborhood
In California the General Plan (also known as a comprehensive plan in other states) is a document providing a long-range plan for a city’s physical development. Local jurisdictions have freedom as to what their general plans include, however there are certain requirements under California state law that each general plan must meet; failure to do so could result in suspension of future development. Each general plan must include the vision, goals, and objectives of the city or county in terms of planning and development within eight different “elements” defined by the state as: land use, housing, circulation, conservation, noise, safety, open space, and environmental justice (added as an official element in 2016).