General Plan Update

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In 1990 the California Supreme Court held that the General Plan is the “constitution for all future developments” and confirmed that it is “the single most important planning document” for municipalities in California. Government Code Section 65302 mandates that a city's General Plan contain seven mandatory "elements," or chapters, and may include other optional elements.  The mandatory elements address land use, circulation, conservation, open space, safety, noise and housing.  While State law does not dictate General Plan update time-frames for most elements, the housing element must be updated regularly every 8 years.  Brisbane's Housing Element is for the period 2015-2022, and an amended Circulation Element was adopted on September 17, 2015.   For most cities the remaining elements of the general plan usually have a 20-25 year horizon.  
The City of Brisbane’s 1994 General Plan has over 900 policies and programs. The policies provide guidance to the Planning Commission and the City Council when making decisions on development proposals. The programs are additional actions to implement the policies in the plan.  The General Plan divides the City into 13 geographic subareas (i.e., Central Brisbane, Sierra Point, etc.), each governed by unique policies based on the community's goals for those areas.   Since 2004, the City of Brisbane has been in the process of updating its General Plan, and the Environmental Impact Report and decisions on the potential build-out of the Baylands subarea will help complete  the General Plan update process.

The three primary methods the City is utilizing to gather community input for the update include community visioning workshops, community surveys, and public workshops to review policies, programs and land use. Brisbane's General Plan update process began in 2004 with a series of community workshops to reconfirm or modify the original General Plan goals and vision for the City. Other workshops and presentations were provided to the community to help inform decisions on Placemaking for key areas of the City and on the Baylands, through the Baylands Speaker Series, and provided a wealth of information to further inform the General Plan Update.

On November 8, 2005, the City mailed a Community Survey to the registered voters in Brisbane to gather public input on those things that are important to the community and that relate to the Elements of the General Plan.  The survey results will guide discussions on the General Plan update. The Survey Report and Appendix B Frequency Tables are provided here and the complete survey report is available at City Hall.

Public workshops on policies, programs and land uses have or will review the following:

  • State law for general plans
  • Input from previous workshops (i.e. visioning and place making)
  • Results of the 2005 community survey
  • The "build out" (maximum density and intensity of residential and non-residential land uses) allowed under the existing plan for each subarea
  • The development that has occurred since the existing plan was adopted
  • Current development proposals
  • Demographic and other projections
  • Infrastructure capacity
  • Environmental constraints
  • The policies and programs in the plan

The revised draft General Plan, when released, will be the subject of additional public hearings and will undergo environmental review.  For information regarding upcoming General Plan meetings, please contact the Community Development Department at (415) 508-2120, or email Senior Planner Ken Johnson at You may view upcoming and prior Planning Commission and City Council meeting agendas for information on meetings and workshops related to the General Plan update.