What is a Specific Plan?

The specific plan is one of several policy or regulatory tools used by local governments to guide community development. While the General Plan sets forth goals, policies and programs for the entire jurisdiction, the specific plan does so for a localized area and in greater detail. The law allows, but does not require, the planning agency to prepare and adopt specific plans for the systematic execution of the general plan. According to State Law, all specific plans must be consistent with the adopted general plan, and all subdivision and development activity must be consistent with the specific plan.

What goes into the Specific Plan?

State law mandates that a specific plan includes text and diagrams which specify:

  • The distribution, location, and extent of the uses of the land, including open space, within the area covered by the plan.
  • The proposed distribution, location, and extent and intensity of major components of public and private transportation, sewage, water, drainage, solid waste disposal, energy, and other essential facilities proposed to be located within the area covered by the plan and needed to support the land uses described in the plan.
  • The development standards, and standards for the conservation, development and utilization of natural resource.
  • An implementation program.
  • A statement of the relationship of the specific plan to the general plan.

Relationship to the General Plan

The specific plan effectively establishes a link between the general plan and individual development proposals (at a project level), in a more area-specific manner than is possible with community-wide zoning ordinances. Specific plans create a comprehensive vision, theme, and a land use plan that support the policy direction that is identified in the general plan, moving one step closer to implementing the goals, policies, and objectives outlined in the general plan document.

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