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General Plan Update Overview

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History - Process & Schedule - Steering Committee & Interest Group
Project Milestones - Links


The County of San Diego's General Plan Update was a multi-year project which began in August 1998, then referred to as General Plan 2020, to update the San Diego County General Plan. The current general plan for the unincorporated County had not been comprehensively updated since 1979 and had been the subject of substantial modification over the years. During this period, considerable growth and change had taken place, leading to the incorporation of a number of cities and to annexation of lands on the periphery of the unincorporated area.  Over the development of the plan, County staff met with community groups and residents numerous times in various planning efforts, for more information on these efforts visit Project Milestones.

Today, the unincorporated area of the County is comprised of 84% of the total land area of San Diego County and is estimated to support 16% of the entire County's population of approximately 2.8 million inhabitants. According to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the population of the entire County is estimated to grow to approximately 3.6 million by the year 2020 and the existing population of the unincorporated area (442,919) is projected to grow to approximately 627,142.

The County of San Diego's General Plan Update forms a framework into which the unincorporated communities will grow, shaping the future of San Diego County. The end product is a document that protects the environment, accommodates population growth, and links that growth to the provision of required facilities and services.


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  Process & Schedule

The General Plan Update establishes future growth and development patterns for the unincorporated areas of the county. When compared to the old General Plan, the update will focus population growth in the western areas of the County where infrastructure and services are available. The General Plan Update replaces the previuos General Plan, including all regional elements and all community or subregional plans. Other components of the General Plan Update include adjustments to community planning area boundaries, replacing residential lot size requirements with a density-based approach, and identifying items that must be changed within a reasonable timeframe following plan adoption to maintain consistency between the General Plan and County ordinances or policies. Agricultural Preserves will be modified to reflect lands under Williamson Act contracts. 

The General Plan Update is guided by three regional advisory committees: the Steering Committee, Interest Group and City Planning Directors.

The Steering Committee and Interest Group guided and assisted in the preparation of the General Plan Update by making policy recommendations to staff, the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. In this way, the communities and interested parties, through frequent work sessions, were involved in the planning process from the identification of desired goals, policies, and standards through the preparation of a draft future population distribution alternative and land use map for the unincorporated area of the County.

Steering Committee and Interest Group minutes are available here:  Steering Committee Minutes    Interest Group Minutes  

In addition to the Steering Committee and Interest Group Committee, the Planning Directors from each of the 18 cities met on issues relating to proposed goals, policies, and standards. Their views were reported to the Steering Committee and Interest Group and lead to modifications to these goals, policies, and standards. Preliminary goals and policies were reviewed by the Planning Commission and endorsed by the Board of Supervisors.

The evaluation of regional alternatives represents an important threshold in the planning process. Once a preferred regional alternative has been selected as a context for the general plan, critical elements such as land use, circulation, open space, conservation, public facilities, housing, safety, and noise were prepared. Concurrently, local community plans were prepared in the context of the selected regional plan. An environmental impact report analyzing the effect of the plan was developed and ultimately, the draft general plan was presented at public hearings. After modifications arising from the public review process, the San Diego County's General Plan Update was finalized by the County Board of Supervisors and became the guiding instrument for future development in the unincorporated areas of the County.



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