California’s rural communities have vast responsibilities with respect to local land use planning, development, conservation, and general decision-making authority.  While the State delegates most local land use and development decisions to cities and counties, state and local laws define the process for making planning decisions and requires various planning elements to be prepared and included in a county-adopted General Plan.  The General Plan is a comprehensive plan that outlines the county’s goals and policies for accommodating future population growth and other physical demands.  As part of the General Plan, the State mandates the incorporation of at least the following seven elements: land use, open space, conservation, housing, circulation, noise, and safety. Additionally, beginning in 2018, jurisdictions that have “disadvantaged communities” must either adopt an Environmental Justice Element in their General Plan, or integrate Environmental Justice policies and goals into the elements of their General Plan.  The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) is the State’s planning agency responsible for a variety of programs including the development and adoption of guidelines for various land use planning documents, such as the General Plan.  The Department of Housing and Community Development, Division of Housing Policy Development, administers state housing element law, including the review of local housing elements.  Housing element law mandates that local governments adequately plan to meet the existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community as determined by the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA).

California is experiencing a well-documented housing shortage, particularly affordable units in high-market areas of the state. RCRC supports coordinated regional planning between local agencies to address regional impacts of growth including transportation and other infrastructure, air quality, housing, resource production and protection, and public services. 

RCRC provides input on legislation, regulations, and guidelines to protect local land use authority, reduce duplicative layers in the planning process, and minimize the financial impacts of new requirements imposed on local jurisdictions.

Staff: Tracy Rhine