What is a General Plan


Oakley’s General Plan represents our long-term vision for land use. It is often compared to a “constitution” for local development, in that it is the highest authority adopted by the City for land use decisions. All land use permits, development and zoning ordinances and the capital improvement program, must be consistent with the general plan. As a long-term document, spanning the next 20 years of Oakley’s development, the plan is not meant to be static. Planning is a continuous process. The general plan maybe amended up to 4 times in a calendar year and at least once every five years the plan should be thoroughly reviewed and revised if necessary.

                The General Plan is a comprehensive document consisting of text and maps outlining goals, objectives and policies for future development and is one of the most powerful and least understood documents affecting land use planning in the City of Oakley. It’s primary function is to assist the City Council, city staff, the Planning Commission, residents and developers in making rational decisions regarding the city’s long-term physical development.  

Every California city and county is required to adopt a comprehensive, long term general plan for development, which serves “as an effective guide for orderly growth and development” of the jurisdiction. (Article 5, Section 65300 et seq. of the Government Code).

There are 7 elements to the general plan that are mandatory under state law:

  • Land Use Element designates the general location and intensity of housing, business, industry, open space, education, public buildings and grounds, waste disposal facilities, and other land uses.
  • Circulation Element consists of the general location and extent of existing and proposed major thoroughfares, transportation routes, terminals, and other local public facilities and utilities.
  • Housing Element consists of an identification of existing and projected housing needs. It establishes goals, policies and programs for the preservation, improvement, and development of housing. The Housing Element will identify adequate sites for housing to meet the needs of all economic segments of the city. Unlike the other mandatory general plan elements, the housing element is required to be updated every five years and is subject to detailed statutory requirements and mandatory review by a State agency (Department of Housing and Community Development).
  • Conservation Element provides for the conservation, development and utilization of natural resources including water, forests, soils, rivers, and other waters, fisheries, wildlife, minerals, and other natural resources.
  • Open Space Element plans for the long-range preservation and conservation of open space lands.
  • Noise Element examines the sources and impacts of unwanted sounds and guides the land use element towards achieving noise compatible land uses.
  • Safety Element establishes standards and plans for emergency preparedness to protect the city from natural hazards such as fire, flood and earthquake.

             The City of Oakley has a few others that have been added the Growth Management and Economic Development elements.

             In November 1988, the voters of Contra Costa County approved Measure C, authorizing a 0.5% sales tax to fund associated improvement projects. Measure J was adopted by the voters of Contra Costa County in November 2004. It is a 25-year extension of the previous Measure C Contra Costa Transportation Improvement and Growth Management Program. Like Measure C, the Measure J Growth Management Program requires that each jurisdiction adopt a Growth Management Element as part of its General Plan. All of the jurisdictions within the county, including Oakley, have an adopted Growth Management Element. Compliance with Measure J is necessary for local jurisdictions to continue receiving their share of Local Transportation Maintenance and Improvement funds generated by the Measure J transportation sales tax and to be eligible for Contra Costa Transportation for Livable Communities funds. The intent of the Growth Management Element is twofold:

  • To establish a long-range program matching the demand for public facilities to serve new development with plans, capital improvement programs, and development impact mitigation programs; and,
  • To ensure that growth takes place in a manner that will ensure protection of health, safety and welfare of both existing and future residents of Contra Costa County.

The California Government Code, Section 65303, allows a city to adopt optional elements within its general plan to address “subjects which, in the judgment of the legislative body, relate to the physical development of the (city).” As such, this Economic Development Element is not mandated by the State. However, the City of Oakley, by inclusion of this Element in the General Plan, acknowledges the importance of economic development, including jobs creation, enhancement of the City’s economic base through establishment of a clear economic strategy, and effective utilization of the City’s finances, public services and facilities as they relate to economic development. This Element is further intended to serve as a guide for City officials, staff, citizens and businesses interested in economic development issues and opportunities within Oakley.

About Kevin

Councilmember - City of Oakley, Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit, Transplan, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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