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Long-Range Plan Definitions

four-layer inverted pyramid denoting General Plan as the largest, then Specific Plans, then Zoning Ordinance, and finally Resolutions Implementation

General Plan

The General Plan is a policy document that establishes a vision for the future of Sonoma County. It prioritizes, organizes, and directs development and conservation. General Plan policies are implemented by specific standards and rules that exist within the County’s Zoning Ordinance, Area Plans, and Specific Plans.

  • Mandatory policy document
  • Provides overarching vision and policies
  • 20 year lifespan (typical)
  • All County policies must be consistent with the General Plan

Specific Plans

Specific Plans provide more precise development policies related to particular geographic areas.

  • Optional policy document
  • 10-15 year lifespan
  • Addresses areas of change that need special attention and integrated/holistic planning
  • Covers land use, design, infrastructure, & financing
  • Includes policy (general plan level) and regulations or standards (like a zoning ordinance)

Zoning Ordinance

  • Implements the General Plan
  • Specific standards and regulation
  • Procedures and administration of policy

Resolutions Implementation

  • Interpretations and practice