The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (“OPR”) is comprehensively updating state general plan guidelines for the first time since 2003. General plans, often referred to as the local constitutions for development, are generally composed of seven mandatory elements (Land Use, Circulation, Housing, Conservation, Open Space, Noise, and Safety Elements) as well as optional elements chosen by local governments like Climate Action Plans and Air Quality Elements. OPR has re-formatted the guidelines for easier navigation and use by the general public and is adding new guidance incorporating changes to state law. The draft guidelines also include a new web-based mapping tool with statewide data on topics ranging from various official sea-level rise projections to transportation networks.


OPR released a draft of the updated guidelines as well as an early version of the mapping tool, available here, and has hosted information and listening sessions throughout the state. OPR continues to accept comments on the draft guidelines until 5:00 p.m. on December 18, 2015; comments should be sent to


OPR anticipates publishing final general plan guidelines in the first quarter of 2016. Although not included in the draft guidelines, the final guidelines will include compliance information regarding SB 379, which requires planning for impacts of global climate change in local hazard mitigation plans or the Safety Element.


Goldfarb & Lipman LLP will continue to monitor OPR’s updates to the general plan guidelines as they are finalized and will be prepared to advise clients on compliance going forward. Please contact Barbara Kautz, Eric Phillips, Justin Bigelow, or any attorney at Goldfarb & Lipman for more information about the forthcoming final guidelines.