General Plan Area, showing existing land uses from the 2014 Draft

What is a General Plan?

The General Plan serves as the “constitution” for the city. It is a set of policies and programs that serves as the blueprint for physical development. Its purpose is to establish a long-range vision for the community and to plan for important community issues, such as new growth, housing needs, public services, and environmental protection. The General Plan expresses broad community values and goals, gives a picture of how the community should look in the future, and outlines steps to get there. Objectives such as “create economic development,” “preserve open space,” and “support sustainable practices” are translated into policies, maps, and specific actions that are tangible and can be implemented. General Plans are mandated by State law.

Pacifica’s General Plan was last updated in 1980. General Plans are usually comprehensively updated at least every 20 years in order to account for changing development pressures, social needs, and legal requirements. There was an extensive effort to update the General Plan between 2009 and 2012, but the resulting Draft General Plan was not adopted by City Council. The current planning process aims to update and complete the 2012 Draft General Plan, shape a forward-looking vision for Pacifica, and provide the City with a regulatory document that responds to our contemporary issues and legal context.

The City of Pacifica Draft General Plan includes six of the seven elements required by State law: Land Use, Circulation, Open Space, Conservation, Safety, and Noise. It also includes two other optional elements that address local concerns: Economic Sustainability and Community Design. Because the Housing Element is required by State law to be updated at specific times—more frequently than the rest of the General Plan—it is published as a separate document. The current Housing Element was adopted in 2015 and will be updated in 2023.

Why Update the General Plan Now?

General Plan is the City's most important planning tool, and a comprehensive update will help ensure that information in the Plan is current and that the Plan's goals and action items are consistent with current City policy. The General Plan update process will allow Pacifica to add and strengthen policies related to sustainability and economic development.

Many issues facing Pacifica are enduring but the legal environment governing land use, environmental preservation, housing, and other planning issues have changed. New priorities have emerged with a new generation of Pacifica residents and stakeholders. The General Plan update will provide for a comprehensive assessment of current conditions; it will also allow today’s residents to express a vision for the future.

General Plan Environmental Impact Report

The Pacifica General Plan will be developed concurrently with an Environmental Impact Report on the plan. Environmental Impact Reports (or EIRs) are State mandated documents governed by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). EIRs inform the public and public agency decision-makers of significant environmental effects of proposed projects, identify possible ways to minimize those effects, and describe reasonable alternatives to those projects.

Help Shape Pacifica’s Future!

The current process to update the General Plan and Local Coastal Land Use Plan, and to establish a Specific Plan for the Sharp Park neighborhood relies on vital input, visioning and feedback from the community. Please visit the Participate page to learn more about how you can get involved.