What is a General Plan?

The state of California requires every city and county in California to adopt a General Plan, which is the local government’s long-term blueprint “for the physical development of the city and any land outside its boundaries that bears relation to its planning.” The General Plan represents the community’s view of its future and expresses the long-term growth and development goals.  It addresses issues that impact the entire city, such as how land is used, where buildings are built, the locations of roads and parks, safety, noise, and more

The General Plan contains the goals and policies upon which the City Council and Planning Commission will base their land use decisions. All city plans, zoning, and private development must be consistent with the diagrams and policies in the General Plan.

Why is the City updating its General Plan?

Three years after the City incorporated in 1991, Lake Forest adopted its first General Plan to help guide the City’s physical development. Since then, the City has undergone a number of significant changes including the annexations of Portola Hills and Foothill Ranch, the closure of the El Toro Marine Corps Base, and the launch of the Opportunities Study Area. The 1994 General Plan guided the decisions that led to the transformation of Lake Forest into a thriving, well-balanced and sustainable community. The General Plan promoted economic revitalization of aging commercial areas such as Heritage Square and The Orchard, street and landscape beautification efforts, modernization of traffic circulation systems, and expanded recreation opportunities.

Just as the City’s 1994 General Plan guided the City’s growth and development, the City’s 2040 General Plan will serve as a roadmap for the City’s future growth over the next 20 years. The goals, policies, and actions of the General Plan will serve as the City’s roadmap for future decision-making and provide the community, staff, and elected and appointed officials with clear direction on where the City wants to go and what needs to happen in order to get there. This is Our Vision. This is Our Plan.

What topics are addressed in the General Plan?

General Plans are divided into elements based on specific topics. There are seven mandatory elements: land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, safety, and noise. Cities can also choose to include other “optional” elements that address special topics that are important to the local community. In addition to addressing the seven mandatory elements, Lake Forest has also decided to address the topics of: Economic Development, Community Health and Wellness, and Fiscal Sustainability.

What is the schedule for the General Plan?

The Lake Forest General Plan Update will take place over a two year period starting in January 2018.

How can I get involved?

The General Plan Update process provides an opportunity for community members to discuss and weigh in on the City’s future. We encourage you to take advantage of the many opportunities to participate, including meetings, workshops, and public hearings.

In order to collect community input in an open, engaging, and actionable way, the City has designed a series of community venues and events where you will have the opportunity to participate in and be informed of the planning process. These include:

      Visioning Workshops – Three Visioning Workshops will be held to introduce the community to the project and to provide opportunities for the community to identify their vision, goals and priorities, and land use preferences for the General Plan Update.

      General Plan Advisory Group (GPAC) -  The GPAC will be selected by the City Council to represent the community and work directly with the General Plan Update staff and consultant team to identify issues and concerns, review land uses, and prepare the draft goals, policies, and actions that will be the foundation for each element of the General Plan. GPAC meetings will be working meetings.  The public is invited to attend, but the public will not participate in the GPAC discussion.

      Stakeholder Interviews – Interviews of groups and organizations that represent various local and regional issues that affect Lake Forest will be conducted to ensure that a broad range of perspectives are included early in the General Plan update process. Feedback collected during this stage will be subject to additional input from the broader community.

      Open House – This community workshop will present the key issues that the General Plan Update addresses, the City’s primary goals and policies related to each General Plan element, and the benchmark land use map.

      Public Review Draft General Plan – The Public Review Draft General Plan and Environmental Impact Report will be made available to the public for review and feedback before the plan is finalized. will be presented to the entire community in order to receive feedback and input.

      Planning Commission and City Council Hearings –The City will conduct public hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council to consider the update to the General Plan.  Community members are encouraged to attend these meetings.

Why should I get involved?

The City of Lake Forest is committed to involving the community in the planning process. The General Plan Update process provides residents, businesses, and interested parties the chance to help guide the future of the community. A successful General Plan will reflect the community’s vision and priorities, and we believe that your voice is vital to producing a plan that will reflect your vision for the city’s future. Community input is needed to establish the long-term vision for Lake Forest and to identify key issues and priorities.

How will my feedback be used?

Public input from every engagement opportunity is meticulously reviewed and documented to ensure the General Plan Advisory Committee, planners, City staff, and decision-makers have a full understanding of public sentiment when drafting goals and policies. Public feedback on General Plan materials (including goals and policies) will be considered throughout the process.

How can I stay informed?

Visit the Get Involved page to view the dates of upcoming meetings and community events. If you wish to be added to the City’s mailing list to receive project updates and invitations to community events, use the contact form and request to be added to the mailing list.

The General Plan Update process is an opportunity for community members to discuss the city’s future. There will be many opportunities to participate, including meetings, workshops, and public hearings. All of these opportunities will be posted on this website.