The Department of City Planning is charged with the responsibility of preparing, maintaining, and implementing a General Plan for the development of the City of Los Angeles. The General Plan consists of the Framework Element, which provides overall guidance for the future of the City and other citywide elements including State mandated elements such as the Transportation, Housing, Open Space, and Land Use Elements.

The Citywide General Plan Framework is based on a directed growth strategy which targets residential and commercial growth along boulevards, corridors, and clustered development around high activity centers and around transit opportunities.

The Land Use Element of the General Plan is comprised of thirty five community plans, which depict a range of allowable land uses, which are unique to the City's many communities. The Community Plans are intended to promote an arrangement of land uses, streets, and services which will encourage and contribute to the economic, social and physical health, safety, welfare and convenience of the people who live and work in the City of Los Angeles.

The Planning Department implements the General Plan utilizing a variety of tools through the application of zoning regulations. Traditional zoning, Specific Plans, Overlay Districts, and special use permits, such as Conditional Uses and Variances, all regulate the use of land in the City.