FAQ - Irvine 2045

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What is a General Plan?
What elements does a General Plan include?
What is a Housing Element?
What elements will be updated in the City’s General Plan?
How often is a General Plan updated?
What is an Environmental Impact Report (EIR)?
What is the difference between the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance?
What is the difference between the General Plan and the Capital Improvement Program (CIP)?
How will my feedback be used?
How can I get involved?

1. What is a General Plan?

All cities and counties in California are required to have a General Plan, which serves as a guide for the development, improvement, and preservation of the City. The General Plan establishes Irvine’s long-term vision and how the City should develop over time. The plan consists of required elements (like chapters in a book) with text, exhibits, and maps to show how the vision will be implemented and achieved.

Once adopted by the City Council, the General Plan will be used as the foundation for decision making by our City officials, such as the Planning Commission and City Council.

2. What elements does a General Plan include?

State law requires all general plans to incorporate the following elements – land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, noise, and safety.

The City’s current plan consists of all the state-required elements and eight optional elements -- seismic, energy, integrated waste management, parks and recreation, public facilities and services, cultural resources, growth management, and the Irvine Business Complex.

3. What is a Housing Element?

Housing Element is Irvine’s strategic plan for housing. All California cities and counties are required to plan and meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. The Housing Element contains goals, objectives, policies, and programs of how Irvine will meet its existing and future housing needs for all income levels (RHNA allocation).

While the City itself does not build housing, the Housing Element provides opportunities for the private sector to develop housing, which is based on market conditions.

All cities and counties are required to update their Housing Element every eight years for State certification. Irvine’s 2021-2029 Housing Element was certified by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on May 24, 2022.

​​4. What elements will be updated in the City’s General Plan?

The Update will focus on land use, circulation and mobility, safety, noise, to stay consistent with our certified Housing Element. The Update will also introduce a new element -- environmental protection and climate action -- that will highlight the Strategic Energy Plan and on-going Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP). Also new with this Update is the theme of “environmental justice,” which will be incorporated throughout the General Plan where applicable.

In conjunction with the Update, the City will also amend the Zoning Ordinance to ensure consistency with the General Plan. 

5. How often is a General Plan updated?

While there is no requirement for how often to update the General Plan, the planning period has traditionally been 15–20 years. The Housing Element is the only chapter of the General Plan that is required to be updated every eight years by HCD.

6. What is an Environmental Impact Report (EIR)?

An EIR is an analysis of potential environmental impacts of a project. The EIR identifies project alternatives and ways to reduce or avoid impacts.

Under CEQA, the City’s General Plan update and Zoning Ordinance amendment are considered a project and will require an EIR.

Community members and partners can provide input at two different phases in the EIR process: (1) in response to the Notice of Preparation, which declares an EIR is going to be prepared and asks the public to comment on what the EIR should analyze, and the related EIR public scoping meeting; and (2) in response to the Notice of Availability for the release of the Draft EIR for public comment prior to public hearings in consideration of adopting the Update and certifying the EIR.

7. What is the difference between the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance?

The General Plan contains long-term policies that guide future development. The Zoning Ordinance implements the General Plan’s long-range policies through area-specific development regulations and standards. These regulations and standards are expressed through text, maps, and diagrams. Development in the City must meet both the specific requirements of the Zoning Ordinance and the broader policies in the General Plan.

The Zoning Ordinance will be amended as part of the Update to ensure consistency between both documents.

8. What is the difference between the General Plan and the Capital Improvement Program (CIP)?

The CIP is a balanced, long-term plan, reflecting the City Council’s strategic goals and priorities. This is outlined in the Strategic Business Plan, which is a long-range fiscal forecast. The CIP provides funding for public infrastructure and rehabilitation projects, such as public parks.

The City uses the General Plan as a foundation for establishing the CIP. Additionally, in accordance with Government Code Section 65103(c), the City’s planning agency (Irvine’s Planning Commission) must annually determine that the CIP is consistent with the City’s General Plan.

9. How will my feedback be used?

Public input will be gathered from community partners and through outreach workshops. Your input and feedback will be compiled to ensure City staff and decision-makers have a full understanding of our community sentiments when drafting and approving the General Plan.

10. How can I get involved?

Multiple events will be held at various stages of the process to ensure that all community members and partners have the opportunity to participate and help shape our City’s future.

Visit our General Plan webpage at IRVINE2045.ORG and sign up to receive updates and notifications about events. You can also visit the City of Irvine on our social media platforms at Facebook ; Instagram; Twitter.

To contact a City Update team member with any questions, comments, language preferences/interpretation requests, or to request a presentation for your organization, you can reach us below:

  • Phone: 949-724-6581
  • Email: gpupdate2045@cityofirvine.org
  • Mail: City of Irvine Community Development Department, Attn: General Plan Update, P.O. Box 19575, Irvine, CA 92623-9575