Every city, town, and county in California must have a general plan, which is the local government’s long-term framework or “constitution” for future growth and development. The general plan represents the community’s aspiration for its future growth and development. The general plan contains the goals and polices upon which the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission will base their land use decisions. California State law requires that each town, city, or county must adopt a general plan for the physical development of the jurisdiction and any land outside its boundaries that bears relation to its planning. Typically, a general plan is designed to address the issues facing the County for the next 20 years.
The general plan is made up of a collection of “elements,” or topic categories. There are currently nine mandatory elements: land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, noise, safety, environmental justice, and air quality. Communities may include other elements that address issues of local concern, such as economic development, community character, or urban design. Communities can also organize their general plan any way they choose, as long as they address each of the required topical categories.
Although both the general plan and the zoning ordinance designate how land may be developed, they do so in different ways. A general plan has a broad, long-term outlook that identifies the types of development that will be allowed, the spatial relationships among land uses, and the general pattern of future development. Whereas a zoning ordinance regulates development through specific standards such as lot size, building setbacks, height, and allowable uses. While the land uses shown on the general plan diagram are typically similar to the zoning map, upon adoption of the updated General Plan, the County must amend the zoning ordinance to ensure consistency with the adopted General Plan.
The County’s existing General Plan contains the following elements:
As a part of updating the General Plan, the County may reorganize or add to existing elements and/or may add new elements to emphasize new planning issues that have arisen since the current General Plan was adopted.
Trinity County adopted its current General Plan in piecemeal fashion. While the existing General Plan is serving the community well, the County is doing the update to refine the Plan, address emerging trends and recent State laws, consider new issues, and remove completed implementation measures. This effort is intended to be a comprehensive overhaul of the existing General Plan. This planning effort will also allow the General Plan Team to implement best practices in planning to ensure Trinity County is resilient to future risks while also improving quality of life.
State law requires the County to adopt a General Plan to address land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, noise, safety, and environmental justice. General plans may also address and emphasize other subjects of local importance. The updated and integrated plan will guide how Trinity County should develop and evolve, and where funds and resources for infrastructure, services, and programs should be directed.
The General Plan sets forth long-term policies that guide future development. It identifies the types of development that will be allowed, the spatial relationships among land uses, and the general pattern of future development. The Zoning Regulations implement General Plan policies through detailed development regulations, such as specific use types and building standards. However, the land uses specified in the General Plan will usually be reflected in the local zoning maps as well. State law requires that zoning be consistent with maps and policies in the General Plan. Development must not only meet the specific requirements of the Zoning Regulations, but also the broader policies set forth in the General Plan.
Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the potential environmental impacts of all major development projects must be assessed, disclosed, and appropriately mitigated. The results of this environmental review process are conveyed in the form of an environmental impact report, or EIR.
As required by CEQA Guidelines, the Trinity County General Plan EIR will identify the potential environmental impacts associated with the implementation of the General Plan. This analysis will assess and, if necessary, include measures to mitigate potential impacts related to CEQA-required topics. These topics include: air quality, greenhouse gases, hazards and hazardous materials, hydrology, land use, noise, population and housing, public services, recreation, mobility and transportation, utilities, agricultural and forest resources, biological resources, cultural resources, geology and soils, and aesthetics.
The General Plan is anticipated to be completed by August 2025.
The General Plan consulting team consists of a core group of highly-experienced planner, designers, and technical specialists:
The General Plan process provides all residents and businesses with the chance to help guide the future of Trinity County. A successful General Plan will reflect the community’s vision and priorities, and we need public input to set the vision and priorities.
Existing General Plan Elements
view at trinitycounty.org
Existing Land Use Element
1988, view as PDF
Certified Housing Element (2019-2024)
2020, view as PDF
view at trinitycounty.org
For additional information on General Plan-related topics, browse the following links: