San Benito County General Plan


What is a General Plan?

A general plan acts as the “constitution” for making rational decisions regarding a county’s long-term physical development. The general plan expresses the community’s development goals and incorporates public policies relative to the distribution of future public and private land uses. California State law requires that each county adopt a general plan “for the physical development of the county and any land outside its boundaries which bears relation to its planning.” Typically, a general plan is designed to address the issues facing the county for the next 15-20 years.

The general plan is presented as a collection of “topical elements,” of which seven are mandatory. The seven State-mandated elements are: Land Use, Circulation, Housing, Conservation, Open Space, Noise, and Safety. Each of the seven mandatory elements are required to be addressed by the general plan; however, State law allows these to be consolidated as long as the required issue areas are addressed. San Benito County’s 1995 General Plan includes the following sections/elements:

  • Environmental Resources and Constraints Inventory
  • Land Use Element
  • Transportation Element
  • Housing Element
  • Open Space and Conservation Element
  • Noise Element
  • Seismic and Safety Element
  • Scenic Roads and Highways Element

For more information on the structure and legal requirements of a General Plan, or to see a list of planning related terms and acronyms, please view the following sites:

How can I get involved and provide input?

Please refer to the feedback page.

Why is an Update Needed?

San Benito County is comprehensively updating the 1995 General Plan to meet the changing housing, environmental, economic, and growth needs of the county and to incorporate the community’s vision for the future in the new General Plan. San Benito County’s update of the General Plan will serve several purposes as follows:

  • Provide a description of current conditions in the county that can be used to assess the current state of development and highlight trends impacting the county;
  • Provide information to the public on San Benito County and opportunities for meaningful participation in the planning and decision-making process;
  • Identify planning issues, opportunities, and challenges;
  • Ensure the General Plan is current and internally consistent;
  • Create a systematic and integrated framework for implementation;
  • Improve coordination with cities in the county, and other local, regional, State, and Federal agencies and organizations; and
  • Provide guidance for County departments and decision makers in the planning and evaluation of future decisions.

How long will it take to update the General Plan?

The General Plan Update is scheduled to take 30 months, starting in March 2009 and concluding in June 2011. The update is being conducted as follows:

  • Phase 1 – Reconnaissance and Organization
  • Phase 2 – Existing Conditions (Background Report)
  • Phase 3 – Opportunities and Challenges
  • Phase 4 – Alternatives
  • Phase 5 – Preferred Alternative Selection and Refinement
  • Phase 6 – Fiscal Impact Analysis
  • Phase 7 – Draft Goals and Policies Report
  • Phase 8 – Draft Environmental Impact Report
  • Phase 9 – Public Review and Adoption
  • Phase 10 – Final Documents