Land Use Element

Land Use Element Overview

The most fundamental decisions in planning begin with land use: what to put where. Land use planning envisions the future of a city or county and interacts with all other elements of planning. At its best, the land use element will reflect the community’s vision; promote thoughtful, equitable, and accessible distribution of different land uses, including residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and open space; and align well with other general plan elements. Planners can also use the land use element as a tool to improve public health, reduce infrastructure costs, enhance local economies, and address long-term environmental issues such as climate change and water resources. In this way, the land use element functions as a guide to planners, the general public, and decision makers. Its objectives, policies, and programs relate directly to the other elements. In practice, the land use element is often the most visible and frequently used element in a general plan.

The land use element can also help resolve conflicts and identify trade-offs in land use decisions. For example, increasing density may result in a higher population, but it can also help enhance water supply reliability, reduce long-term costs of infrastructure maintenance, improve water use efficiency, land conservation, housing and transit options, and equity. Designating “least-conflict” areas for solar development may increase energy independence and generate local economic benefits while also preserving valuable agricultural lands. Pursuing urban infill projects may require higher intensity development directed at a limited number of parcels varying in suitability, but infill may also allow for more accessible transit and walkability thus reducing vehicle miles traveled and subsequent greenhouse gas emissions. Identifying and resolving such issues in the land use element can result in development patterns that are predictable, coherent, and reflect community values (Califonria Governor's Office of Planning and Research, 2020).

Available Documents

Updated Land Use Map
land use map