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Organization & Overview

Smart Train at Crossing

3.1 The Plan Format

GP 2020 consists of 10 elements:

  • Land Use Element
  • Housing Element
  • Agricultural Resources Element
  • Open Space and Resource Conservation Element
  • Water Resources Element
  • Public Safety Element
  • Circulation and Transit Element
  • Air Transportation Element
  • Public Facilities and Services Element
  • Noise Element

3.2  The Plan Elements 

Land Use

In addition to the nine general goals and policies, the Land Use Element describes where the different kinds of uses for land may be established in the unincorporated areas of Sonoma County. The Land Use Element includes a set of nine planning area land use maps which establish the use and density of properties throughout the unincorporated area. Sections of the element also express policies which are specific to each planning area.


Future housing production needed to accommodate projected growth is evaluated, along with policies and programs to:

  1. Encourage development of housing for very low, low, and moderate income households
  2. Meet the special shelter needs of specific population groups
  3. Maintain and improve the quality of housing
  4. Encourage production of diverse types of housing.

Agricultural Resources

Detailed guidelines and policies which apply to lands designated in one of the three agricultural land use categories are stated in this element. Policies address marketing of agricultural products, stabilization of agricultural use at the edge of urban areas, limitations on intrusion of residential uses, the location of agricultural services and visitor serving uses, provision of farmworker housing, the streamlining of permit procedures for agricultural uses, and recognition of the aquaculture and horse industries as agricultural endeavors.

Open Space and Resource Conservation

This element, in conjunction with the Water Resources and Agricultural Resources Elements, expresses the full range of goals, objectives, and policies for the preservation of open space, the protection of natural resources, and the provision of outdoor recreation opportunities. It designates various portions of the County in several open space classifications, such as Community Separators, Scenic Landscape Units, Scenic Corridors, Riparian Corridors, and Biotic Habitat Areas. Policies address natural resources such as soils, forests and timber, biotic resources, geothermal, mineral, and energy resources, and air quality. Policies are also established regarding parks, trails, and bikeways. Archaeological, cultural, and historical resources are also addressed.

Water Resources

This element was added for the first time in recognition of the importance of water to the environment, economic stability, agricultural protection, and the overall quality of life of the citizens of Sonoma County. Policies address subjects such as surface and groundwater, water conservation and re-use, public water systems, and water quality.

Public Safety

Special limitations and procedures for review of development projects located in areas subject to natural hazards are included in this element. Safety hazards addressed include seismic and other geologic hazards, flooding, and susceptibility to wildland fires.  Hazardous materials are also included in this element.

Circulation and Transit

The plans for the county's future highway and transit systems are expressed, with particular emphasis on the Highway 101 corridor. GP 2020 emphasizes an increased role for transit in serving commute trips and the importance of measures which will allocate existing highway capacity more efficiently during peak travel periods.

Air Transportation

This element expresses policies related to the public use airports in the county, including compatibility of land uses in adjacent areas. It focuses on the Sonoma County Airport and expresses policies related to the types and amounts of aviation activities to be accommodated and facilities needed to serve them.

Public Facilities and Services

The various public services that may affect the future development of land are emphasized, including water, sewer, parks, education, fire protection, and others. New to this element are policies related to youth, family, and senior services.


This element evaluates existing and projected future noise conditions related to highways, airports, and other sources and expresses policies and standards to assure noise compatibility in future land development.

General Plan Environmental Impact Report

Prior to adoption of GP 2020, the Board certified the GP 2020 Final Environmental Impact Report that identified the impacts of GP 2020 and the policies that contribute to mitigation of these impacts. For informational purposes, each GP 2020 policy that was cited in the FEIR as a mitigating policy is identified with an asterisk (*) after the policy.  In addition, a table is included at the end of GP 2020, entitled “Mitigating Policies of GP 2020". This table identifies the applicable Policies and their relevant impact sections.