Overview

What is a General Plan?

The General Plan defines the vision for what our City will look like in 2050, and a roadmap to get us there!  The General Plan establishes long-term goals and policies to guide a community in realizing a vision, at least 20 years in the future. The State of California requires each city to adopt a comprehensive, long-term general plan for the physical development of a community and provides a list of topics that must be addressed. Local decision makers use the goals and policies of a general plan to make decisions regarding land use, housing, mobility, infrastructure, open spaces, and recreation.

What Will the General Plan Contain?

General Plan Vision

The Moorpark vision statement serves as the foundation for all 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 play.

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Land Use

The Land Use Element describes the proposed distribution and intensity of uses of the land for housing, business, industry, open spaces, natural resources, public facilities, and other categories of public and private use. For each type of land use, it establishes development criteria and standards, including building intensity and population density. In practice, it clarifies for residents and developers the City’s intentions for what lands will be developed, what uses will be located on those, and what lands will be preserved for their existing use.

Circulation

The Circulation Element identifies the location and extent of existing and proposed major thoroughfares, transportation routes, pedestrian connections, bicycle facilities, public transit facilities, and local public utilities and facilities. Strategies to reduce vehicle trips and lengths, and to promote non-motorized transportation alternatives are defined and seek improve livability and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Infrastructure and Community Services

The General Plan defines goals and policies for the provision of public infrastructure and community services supporting the uses accommodated by the Land Use Element. This includes water, wastewater, and energy, civic administration, libraries, and education.

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Housing

The Housing Element analyzes housing needs for all income groups and demonstrates how to meet those needs. The issues of housing availability and affordability in California have risen to the highest level of importance at a legislative level and local governments have a wide variety of responsibilities related to housing. State law requires that this element be revised every eight years, with the next deadline for completion in June 2021. This element will be a priority during the General Plan Update.

Economic Development

The Economic Development Element sets forth goals for economic prosperity and identifies a path to sustainable funding sources. This element will consider a plan to encourage a thriving business environment, healthy local economy, job growth and retention, and, as appropriate, community revitalization.

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Conservation

While there is some overlap with the Open Space and Safety Elements, the primary focus of the Conservation Element is the preservation of natural resources. The element addresses the identification, conservation, development, and use of natural resources including energy and natural gas, water and natural landforms.

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Open Space

The Open Space Element provides a plan for the long-term preservation of open space. It identifies measures for preserving open space for natural resources, for managing the production of resources, for outdoor recreation, and for public health and safety.

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Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation are technically part of the Open Space Element, but this section will be prepared separately to emphasize the importance of parks and recreational facilities as critical components of the community. This section of the General Plan will document existing and planned parks, community facilities, trails, assess deficiencies and opportunity areas, and identify strategies for maintenance and enhancement.

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Noise

The Noise Element identifies and analyzes projected noise conditions in the community and includes measures to address potential noise levels.

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Safety

The Safety Element defines a comprehensive strategy to reduce the short-term and long-term potential for harm from various threats to community health and safety, including seismic, geologic, flood, and wildfire hazards. This element will also address climate change adaptation and resiliency.

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Environmental Justice and Public Health

The General Plan will identify objectives and policies to address the health risks of underrepresented communities. Issues of concern include the reduction of pollution exposure, food access, safe and sanitary living conditions and access to physical activity and healthy environments. This section emphasizes civil engagement in the public decision-making process and prioritizes improvements that address the needs of historically underrepresented communities.

Additional Optional Topics

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In addition to the elements required by state law, a city or county may adopt other elements that relate to its growth over time. Optional elements have the same force and effect as the statutory elements. The Moorpark General Plan update will address several additional topic areas, either as stand-alone elements or integrated into mandated elements. These topics include: Economic Development, Environmental Justice and Public Health, Infrastructure and Community Services, and Sustainability.

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

General Plan Vision

The Moorpark 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.

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 Moorpark, 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 Moorpark, 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 Moorpark General Plan contains two optional elements: Air Quality and Community Design.

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.

Consistency
  • One of the key legal requirements concerning General Plans deals with consistency. “Consistency” is one of the factors used in determining the legal adequacy of a General Plan. As stated in the General Plan Guidelines prepared by the California Office of Planning and Research:
  • “In general terms, an action, program or project is consistent with the General Plan if, considering all its aspects, it will further the objectives and policies of the General Plan and not obstruct their attainment.”
Internal Consistency
  • State law requires that no textual or diagrammatic policies conflict between the components of a General Plan. That is, a General Plan must be internally consistent. Internal consistency has five dimensions:
  • All elements of the General Plan, including adopted optional elements, have equal legal status. No element legally takes priority over another.
  • All elements must be consistent with one another. For instance, if land use element policies are likely to result in an increase in population and traffic, the circulation element must provide feasible mitigation to address those impacts.
  • All goals, objectives, policies, and implementation programs identified in a special policy area must be consistent with the overall General Plan.
Consistency with Other City Documents and Projects
  • The City utilizes several other planning tools such as a zoning ordinance, subdivision ordinance, and specific plans, which must be consistent with the provisions of the General Plan.  If they are determined to be inconsistent, they cannot be approved. The General Plan should also be reviewed by other departments to determine whether or not efforts such as public works projects or public land acquisition or sale are consistent with the goals and policies identified in the General Plan.

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