General Plan Guidelines

OPR is statutorily required by Government Code Section 65040.2 to adopt and periodically revise the State General Plan Guidelines (GPG) for the preparation and content of general plans for all cities and counties in California. A general plan is the local government’s long-term blueprint for the community’s vision of future growth. The GPG serves as the “how to” resource for drafting a general plan. The 2017 version includes legislative changes, new guidance, policy recommendations, external links to resource documents, and additional resources.

View the General Plan Guidelines

For mandatory and common optional elements of the general plan, the GPG sets out each statutory requirement in detail, provides OPR recommended policy language, and includes online links to city and county general plans that have adopted similar policies. Each chapter contains a sample selection of policies as well. Users can also click the links provided for more detailed policies and plans. All of the referenced policies as well as additional policies are compiled in an appendix.

As more resources become available, they will be added to the GPG through periodic updates. A full update of the OPR website is currently underway, and the General Plan Guidelines page will be reformatted during that process, to enhance navigability and user experience. The new format will allow OPR to add updated text, links, and information directly to the GPG, and announce any additions through the GPG listserv and on the OPR website.

OPR will be conducting workshops around the State over the next year to update communities on the new GPG. OPR plans to next update the GPG in 2018 with additional guidance for communities on environmental justice, climate change, and recommendations for the development of an optional water element.

Annual Progress Report Memo

All Counties and general law cities in the State of California are required to submit an annual report on the status of the General Plan and progress in its implementation per Government Code Section 65400. The General Plan Annual Progress Report (APR) is due on April 1 and covers the previous year’s 12 month reporting period which can be either a calendar or fiscal year, depending on the policy of each jurisdiction.

The APR can be submitted electronically to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) at and to the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) at It can also be mailed to OPR at State Clearinghouse, 1400 10th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 or to the HCD at Housing and Community Development, Housing Policy Development Division, 2020 West El Camino Ave. Sacramento, CA 95833. For more detailed information regarding the submission of an APR, please see our guide.

General Plan Guidelines Email List

Please sign up for the General Plan Guidelines E-List to hear about updates, workshops, and the final release of the General Plan Guidelines.

Previous Guideline Material

The 2003 General Plan Guidelines (GPG) provides guidance to cities and counties in the preparation of their local general plans in process prior to the release of the 2017 GPG. The 2003 GPG was meant to be used in tandem with subsequent supplements, which are now directly referenced or incorporated in to the 2017 GPG. These supplements include: