The County of San Diego General Plan

The San Diego County General Plan applies to the unincorporated area of the county and is the County’s long-term blueprint for the vision of the future. It reflects an environmentally sustainable approach to planning that balances the need for adequate infrastructure, housing, and economic vitality while maintaining and preserving existing communities, agricultural areas, and open spaces.

San Diego County is approximately 2.9 million acres of which 2.3 million acres are unincorporated areas. Within the unincorporated area, the County’s land-use jurisdiction is limited by Tribal lands, and State and Federally owned lands, and military installations including Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. As a result, the County has land use jurisdiction over 772,239 acres or 35% of the unincorporated area.


Is a General Plan Required?

California state law requires each city and county to adopt a general plan that consist of seven plan elements. The General Plan is a living document, and the State recognizes that from time to time, it must be amended to update information and policies or comply with State regulations. 


In 2011, the Board of Supervisors approved the update to the County’s General Plan. Changes to the General Plan:

  • Reduced Land Use Capacity by 46,363 units (15%) to 239,984 units,
  • Focused development in village cores to retain the county’s rural character,
  • Shifted 20% of the remaining Dwelling unit capacity to the most western portions of the unincorporated area, and 
  • Located 80% of the Dwelling Unit Capacity where water can be imported and distributed by the County Water Authority.  

To track the progress towards implementing the General Plan, visit the Housing Production and Capacity Portal which illustrates housing production and land use capacity since the General Plan update in 2011.


Click on each icon to sort through the General Plan documents.

The General Plan calls for Community Plans to be maintained as part of the General Plan. Community Plans are policy plans, adopted as integral parts of the General Plan, specifically created to “guide development to reflect the character and vision for each unincorporated community, consistent with the General Plan (Policy LU-2.1).”

Community Plans play a critical role in General Plan implementation, as they provide an opportunity to further refine and apply General Plan policies at a smaller geographic scale.  Community Plans also provide an opportunity to increase local participation in the planning process.

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