General Plan Updates
OurLA, the comprehensive update to the City’s General Plan, will guide the physical and economic future of Los Angeles through the year 2040. OurLA aims to chart a course for the City’s growth and change over the coming decades, tackling issues related to land use and economic development, water and energy, parks and open space, housing, mobility, air quality, and historic preservation.
Home to over four million residents from diverse backgrounds, Los Angeles is the nation’s second-largest city, covering approximately 473 square miles of varied terrain. Los Angeles City Planning is updating the goals and policies in the General Plan—the City’s master land use plan—to ensure that Los Angeles remains an economically viable, livable, and sustainable city.
General Plan Background
The State of California requires that each General Plan include seven mandatory topics, or Elements: Land Use, Open Space, Conservation, Circulation, Housing, Noise, and Safety. However, each city may rename, combine, or break up the Elements, and cities may decide to create new Elements. By customizing and contextualizing the General Plan, Californian cities can adapt it to address local needs and conditions.
In Los Angeles, the seven state-required General Plan Elements have been gradually modified over time. While the policies contained in the current citywide General Plan Elements remain relevant, the OurLA planning process will review and revise these policies, producing updated Elements. These will complement the three Elements recently updated and adopted by City Council.
General Plan Elements
The Framework Element can be considered the organizing Element. Its policies address and connect all the Elements of the General Plan.
What is OurLA?
OurLA is a comprehensive update of the City of Los Angeles’s General Plan. Los Angeles City Planning takes the lead on updating the General Plan every generation.
The General Plan describes residents’ vision for the future of Los Angeles and the related goals and policies that can help the City achieve that vision
What is a General Plan?
The State of California and the Los Angeles City Charter require the City to create and adopt a General Plan. The General Plan must include certain mandatory topics, called Elements, but each city has the ability to reorganize the Elements or include additional Elements based on needs and values. Each Element contains a declaration of goals, objectives, and programs that guide and establish the future form and development of the City.
The General Plan provides guidance on where and how the city responds to and prepares for change. It is the foundation City departments and the City Council use to determine policy priorities and make informed decisions on projects.
What is the relationship between the General Plan, Community Plans, and the Zoning Code?
The City’s General Plan provides the structure for all planning and land use activities in the City. It articulates the City’s vision and goals in the broadest terms. The City’s 35 Community Plans elaborate the direction set by the General Plan. The Zoning Code translates the policies set in the General Plan and Community Plans into specific rules and regulations, which are applied to every plot of land in the city.
The City of Los Angeles is geographically divided into 35 Community Plan Areas (and two Special Purpose Districts: Port of Los Angeles and Los Angeles World Airports). The City has embarked on a separate, but related, effort to update these plans. Additionally, re:code LA is preparing the City’s new Zoning Code, which will be available for Community Plans’ update efforts and will help implement the vision of the updated General Plan.
What is CEQA and how does it relate to the General Plan?
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) helps cities determine if a project will adversely affect the environment and defines procedures required for each project to complete the CEQA process. The General Plan update will undergo CEQA analysis before its adoption.
The General Plan is one of the many ways the City plans for its future. City departments, elected offices, nonprofits, and countless other agencies make plans for Los Angeles. Below are examples of the ways diverse groups across the City inform and implement the General Plan.
Los Angeles City Planning
Los Angeles City Planning is the City department that works most prominently on land use planning in Los Angeles. In addition to updating the General Plan, the Department is updating land use plans for several Community Plan Areas. (Visit the Community Plans Updates page to see which areas are included.)
City Planning is also working to comprehensively revise the Los Angeles Zoning Code through its re:code LA project. To receive news about the Community Plan Update and re:code LA, subscribe to the Department’s E-Newsletter.
The Zoning Information Map Access (ZIMAS) system displays land use regulations for sites throughout the City.
Other City Departments
The General Plan sets high-level policies that guide the work of all the City of Los Angeles’s Departments and Bureaus. Most of these departments implement policies with an agency-specific strategic plan or master plan which outlines how the department will provide services. Some departments will also take on initiatives to address specific priorities. For example:
One Water LA is a collaborative effort to develop an integrated framework for managing the City’s water resources, watersheds, and water facilities in an environmentally, economically, and socially beneficial manner. LA Sanitation has been working with countless stakeholders since 2010 to develop the One Water LA Plan, which lays out a framework for better management of our water resources. Through the OurLA update process, we will incorporate the One Water LA goals and policies into the General Plan update.
Vision Zero Los Angeles is an initiative led by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation that brings together several city agencies, elected offices, and other partners to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2025. This effort works toward the first goal of the recently updated Mobility Element of the General Plan: “Safety First.” Programs like Vision Zero help departments implement the policies and goals of the General Plan, translating the vision of the plan into specific actions and projects.
The City of Los Angeles is part of a larger regional governance structure. Because Los Angeles’s economy, transportation networks, and ecosystems are tied to those of surrounding cities, the Department collaborates with several agencies to plan for the City and larger region. The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), for example, works with all local jurisdictions to coordinate policy on topics such as housing, transportation, and jobs for the region. The Department also coordinates with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) on their long-range plans to improve and expand public transportation and mobility in the region, and with the Los Angeles Country Department of Regional Planning to ensure we are planning for regional benefits.
Nonprofits, Neighborhood Groups, and Business Organizations
Increasingly, people and organizations are taking the initiative to produce their own planning documents. The General Plan team engages with nonprofits, neighborhood groups, business organizations, and anyone else wishing to participate in the General Plan update. To schedule a meeting, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Elected officials, including the Mayor and 15 members of City Council, also work to plan for Los Angeles. Mayor Garcetti’s office has worked to address environmental challenges with the Sustainable City pLAn and the Plan for a Resilient Los Angeles. Both of these plans were drafted with a robust public engagement strategy, helping to capture the values and ambitions of Angelenos. These plans both implement and inform the General Plan update.
Councilmembers also work to create plans for specific projects in each of their 15 districts. It would be difficult to list all of these projects, but one illustrative example is the Destination Crenshaw project in Council District 8. This project guides investment along a 1.3-mile stretch of Crenshaw Boulevard to create an outdoor arts and cultural space celebrating Black Los Angeles. Plans and projects like this can help implement policies around transit oriented communities, cultural preservation, and mobility that are housed in the General Plan.
Sign up to get the latest updates from OurLA in your inbox. (The mailing list only sends emails about Los Angeles City Planning efforts and will never share your email address with anyone else.)
Questions? Email OurLA2040@lacity.org.