• Quick menus
  • Site map


The timelines for 2013 and 2014 provides provide an overview of the completed and remaining phases of the General Plan Update process. The timeline is an estimate and is subject to change, so please check back often.

General Plan Overview

The General Plan is the constitution for all future developments within a city or county.

-- California Supreme Court

The General Plan provides long-term direction for the growth and development of the unincorporated areas of the County. It expresses community values and goals, and portrays the community's vision of the future. The core elements of the Plan address land use, circulation, housing, resource conservation, open space, noise and protection from hazards.

Why is the Plan being updated?

State law requires that the General Plan be periodically reviewed and revised as necessary. The current County Framework General Plan was completed in 1984 and was designed to cover a 20 year planning horizon. The General Plan is being updated to reflect changes in land use, resource management, community needs, and community values and to ensure that the Plan remains consistent with any changes in law that have been made. The current Plan is comprised of 26 different documents, dating from the 1960's to the 1990's. An updated General Plan will unite most of these separate documents into a more accessible and easy to use set of documents.

The update offers an opportunity to improve the County's information base and plan for the County's future needs. The new plan will include updated demographic information (e.g. population, growth projections, and economic indicators) and modernized mapping.

Why is the General Plan important to me?

The General Plan is an expression of the community's values and its plans for growth. Good planning depends on community involvement, and strong communities depend on good planning. With your input, the General Plan will reflect the values of the people who live here.

What is the Process for updating the General Plan?


  • Phase I - Critical Choices Resulted in Critical Choices Report
  • Phase II - Technical Background Reports Resulted in technical background Studies and Sketch Plan Alternative Report
  • Phase III - Selection of Preferred Alternative Resulted in the Board of Supervisor adopting the Sketch Plan Alternatives
  • Phase IV - Draft Preliminary Plan, EIR and Implementing Ordinances
  • Phase V & VI - Public Review and Adoption of Final Plan, EIR and Implementing Ordinances

Throughout all of the steps listed above, Planning Staff has been operating under the direction of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, with the guidance of the Humboldt County Planning Commission and within the parameters of the General Plan Update laws of the State of California.

In this process planners make recommendations and the Planning Commission and BOS make decisions. Public participation opportunities are provided at each stage because public input provides the basis for Planner's recommendations and the decisions of the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.

General Plan Update Proposed Alternatives

Plan Alternative A is intended as the "environmentally superior" option, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), with more limitations on resource land housing development than the proposed project alternatives Plan Alternative "B" and Plan Alternative "C". Key characteristics of Plan Alternative "A" include:

  • housing needs are met solely through infill of areas currently served by existing water and sewer lines
  • resource land protections and significant limitations on large lot residential development

Plan Alternative B is the "identified proposed project" under CEQA, designed for protection of resource lands and allowing some residential development through focused development, scalable urbanization expansion and an incentive-based Planned Rural Development (PRD) Program. Key characteristics of Plan Alternative "B" include:

  • housing needs (up to twice fair share) are met through focused development in currently served areas and specific scalable urbanization expansion plans
  • reduction in large lot residential subdivision potential outside community planning areas
  • increased resource land protection from residential and other conversion using a range of planning tools including: clustered development incentives, minimum lot-sizes, patent parcel development standards, a PRD program, conservation easements and regulatory reform
  • a plan for alternative land use on large resource production lands proven to be no longer economically viable

Plan Alternative C is an "alternative proposed project" under CEQA, allowing residential expansion in resource lands and recognition of existing large lot entitlements. Key characteristics of Plan Alternative "C" include:

  • housing needs (up to three times fair share) are met through development in currently served areas and urbanization expansion plans
  • existing entitlements for large lot residential development would remain but not be increased

Plan Alternative D is the existing 1984 Framework Plan, or under CEQA law, the "no project" alternative.