Our City, Our Future

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San Marcos General Plan

Careful planning for growth begins with the city’s General Plan. It serves as the guiding document for achieving the community’s vision for the future.

What is a General Plan?

  • It’s a policy document

    A General Plan sets forth a city’s long-range planning policies that reflect the aspirations and values of residents, land owners, businesses, and organizations within the community. City Councils and Planning Commissions rely on the general plan in considering land use and planning-related decisions, and City staff use the General Plan day-to-day in administering land use and development activities. Citizens may reference the General Plan to understand the city’s approach to development.

  • It’s a legal document

    A General Plan is a legal document, and much of its content, such as background data, analysis, maps, and exhibits, is established by statutory requirements. California law requires every city and county to prepare and adopt a comprehensive long-range General Plan to form the basis for zoning, subdivision, and public works actions.

  • It’s a comprehensive document

    A General Plan is considered comprehensive because it addresses a wide range of issues that affect a city such as the physical development of the jurisdiction or economic and social concerns that can affect the overall quality of life. A General Plan is considered “long-term” because it looks 20 years or more into the future. Each jurisdiction can establish a time horizon that best fits its individual needs. The State General Plan Guidelines recommend that General Plans be updated every five to ten years to ensure that they remain relevant and reflect local physical and demographic changes and broader changes in culture and technology.

City of San Marcos General Plan Land Use Interactive Map

To view the city’s 2012 General Plan documents, click on the desired links below:

Table of Contents  
Land Use and Community Design Element  
Mobility Element  
Conservation Open Space Element  
Parks, Recreation and Community Health Element  
Safety Element  
Noise Element 
Housing Element 

General Plan Update

In 2019, the City Council directed staff to initiate a comprehensive General Plan Update. The City Council suspended the General Plan Update project in June 2020 due to impacts related to COVID-19.  The General Plan Update included a comprehensive approach to updating the long range policy document.  Although the comprehensive General Plan Update has been suspended, the City will continue to update the Housing and Safety Elements while also addressing Environmental Justice as required by state law.  Notifications about upcoming events related to these updates will continue, and you are encouraged to stay engaged through these next steps.  Thank you for your interest in shaping the future of San Marcos!