Every California city and county submits general plan annual reports to the Governor’s Office of Planning Research (OPR), which allow OPR, local legislative bodies, and the public to:
- Track the plan’s annual progress and implementation
- Analyze trends, discrepancies, and changes within a jurisdiction and its general plan over time
- Keep jurisdictions accountable for implementing their general plans
Local governments are charged with reviewing and approving annual reports, and with judging how well the general plan was implemented during the 12-month reporting period. However, the local government is not required to hold a public comment period on the report prior to submittal. Revisions to the report after public review may be submitted to OPR at any time. Requirements are listed in Government Code Section 65400. Local governments are required to report on the status of the general plan and progress in its implementation.
Reference Materials and Resources
There are multiple reference materials and resources to develop a general plan annual report, the most important of which is its general plan. Beyond that, there are many technical and structural requirements to the annual reports. Luckily, the Government Code, OPR, General Plan Guidelines, and other jurisdictions in California provide helpful guidance, outlines, and examples.
Office of Planning and Research
OPR provides an easy-to-read memorandum on developing annual reports. The memorandum, which references recently updated general plan annual progress report guidance, is made available on the agency’s website. It includes information about the purpose and necessity of the reports, as well as a format guidance section for jurisdictions.
Chapter nine of the general plan guidelines provides general content and formatting guidance. Though the OPR annual progress report memorandum and the general plan guidelines provide good instruction for developing the reports, another way to prepare is to examine examples from other jurisdictions.
Relevant State Law
Per Government Code Section 65400 and 65700, every city and county planning agency is required to prepare and submit an annual report by April 1 each year. Additionally, local governments are also required to post their reports on their website within a reasonable amount of time.
The City of Sacramento has created an excellent general plan annual report format. By keeping an easy-to-read table of contents and organizing the report into themes and sections like “general plan overview,” “maintaining a vibrant economy,” and “creating a healthy environment,” the City of Sacramento Annual Reports are easily navigable and understood. Effectively, the report reads like a summary and analysis of the General Plan and the implementation steps the city took during the reporting period. The city includes a featured projects section that highlights how the goals of the General Plan have manifested in the city’s physical fabric.
California Legislative Information, Title 7, Planning and Land Use, Article 7 Administration of General Plan.
California Legislative Information, Title 7, Planning and Land Use, Article 13 Applicability of Chapter [65700 – 65701].
California Office of Planning and Research, General Plan Annual Progress Report Guidance (2021).
City of Sacramento, General Plan Annual Reports.
City of Arroyo Grande, General Plan Annual Reports.
City of Santa Maria, General Plan Annual Reports.
California Office of Planning and Research, General Plan Guidelines – Chapter 9, Implementation.
California Office of Planning and Research, General Plan Guidelines (2017).
California Legislative Information, Title 7, Planning and Land Use, Article 5. Authority for and Scope of General Plans [65300 – 65303.4].
*Note: Housing Element Annual Progress Reports as a separately required report describe in the section below titled “Housing Element Annual Progress Reports”.