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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What is a General Plan?

All cities and counties in California are required to have a general plan, which serves as the “constitution” for urban development and preservation in the city. Adopted by the City Council, the Sacramento General Plan lays out the city’s long-term (20-year) vision, and includes text, diagrams, and maps to communicate how the vision will be implemented. In essence, the plan expresses how the community should develop over time and specifies locations for various land uses, transportation improvements, new parks and open spaces, and other public infrastructure. It guides urban development within the city limits — including development on both privately-owned and publicly owned land — and is used a basis for land use decisions by government officials such as the Planning and Design Commission and the City Council. 

What topics does the General Plan cover?

State law mandates that all general plans include the following elements which impact the quality of life in our community – Land Use, Circulation, Housing, Conservation, Open Space, Noise, Safety, and Environmental Justice. In addition, Sacramento’s current General Plan include optional elements for Historic and Cultural Resources; Economic Development; and Education, Recreation, and Culture. This update will address all elements, except Housing, which follows a different State-mandated cycle and will be updated by 2021. 

The General Plan also includes specific policies for each of the ten communities that constitute the city, and addresses five special study areas outside of but adjacent to the City limits, where a coordinated planning effort with Sacramento County is required. A map of the Community Plan Areas is available online here and a map of the Special Study Areas is available here.

What is the difference between the General Plan, other City plans, and the Zoning Ordinance?

The General Plan, other City plans, and the Zoning Ordinance differs in their level of scope and detail. The graphic to the right illustrates the relationship between these three levels of planning. The General Plan outlines a long-term vision for Sacramento’s future development through a series of broad policy statements. Other City plans and the City’s Zoning Ordinance implement the General Plan policies through more area-specific policies, implementation measures, and more detailed development regulations and standards. State law requires that all City plans and zoning be consistent with diagrams and policies in the General Plan. Development must not only meet the specific requirements of adopted City plans and the Zoning Ordinance, but also be consistent with the broader policies outlined in the General Plan.

What is a Climate Action Plan?

A Climate Action Plan (CAP) is a community-wide strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and adapting to the effects of climate change, prepared in response to the State mandate that local actions be coordinated with State goals for reducing GHG emissions. The CAP includes the city’s GHG reduction targets as well as specific strategies and implementing actions to achieve the targets. The City of Sacramento Climate Action Plan was originally adopted February 14, 2012 but was subsequently incorporated into the 2035 General Plan. As part of this project, the Sacramento CAP will be revived as a standalone document that provides an over-arching framework for community-wide GHG reduction, and help establish Sacramento a leader on climate action. The recently-constituted Mayor’s Commission on Climate Change is providing recommendations on overall strategies. 

What is an Environmental Impact Report (EIR)?

An environmental impact report (EIR) is a detailed analysis of how the environment would be affected by a plan or development. It also identifies alternatives to the proposed project and presents ways to reduce or avoid environmental impacts. Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a general plan or climate action plan update is considered a project, and thus requires an EIR to be completed in conjunction with the plan. Community members and other government agencies can contribute at two different phases in the EIR process. The first phase is the Scoping Period which starts with the release of a Notice of Preparation (NOP) declaring that an EIR is going to be prepared and asks the public to comment on the scope of the EIR. The second phase is when the Draft EIR is released, and public comments are invited. Public comment is also welcomed when the Final EIR is considered at public hearings before City decision-makers.

The City prepared a Master EIR for the 2030 General Plan, which must be updated every five years to ensure the analysis reflects current conditions in the community. The MEIR was updated in 2014 when the General Plan was last updated, and as part of this project, the MEIR will be updated again. The MEIR will analyze the effects of implementing both the updated General Plan and CAP. 

When will the new updated General Plan and climate action plan be completed?

General Plan 2040 and the Climate Action Plan will be developed with the active involvement of the community over a period of approximately 18 months. You can view a timeline diagram here.

Why should I get involved?

The City of Sacramento is committed to engaging residents from all the City’s diverse communities, business owners and organizations, advocacy and service groups, City staff, and decision-makers to produce a General Plan that is up-to-date, forward thinking, viable, and meaningful. A successful General Plan will reflect the Sacramento community’s vision and priorities, and we want to hear from as much of our community as possible on what that looks like. Sign up here  to be added to our mailing list and receive project updates and invitations to events!

How Do I Get Involved?

Multiple events and activities will be held at various stages of the process to ensure that all community members have an opportunity to participate and collectively shape our future. Sign up  to receive notifications about events and come join the discussion about the future of Sacramento! If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

How will my feedback be used?

Public input from every engagement event will be recorded and compiled to ensure that City planners and decision-makers have a full understanding of our community sentiments when drafting and approving General Plan goals and policies.