Key Topics

What is a General Plan?

The General Plan Update process is an opportunity to evaluate long-term city growth, resources, public services and facilities, and a host of other topics essential to our quality of life. This includes policy about where housing can be built, where new commercial businesses are needed, how the road network can better accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, how parks can be improved, and how public safety is addressed in our daily activities, including exposure of people to noise and air pollutants.

Each chapter of the General Plan, called an element, has a particular focus. 

General Plan Elements

  • Land Use, Open Space and Conservation
    • Optional - Recreation and Economic Development
  • Transportation (Circulation)
  • Housing
  • Safety and Noise

City Hall and Downtown Atascadero

City Hall and Downtown Atascadero


Sunken Gardens

Sunken Gardens

The City’s existing General Plan, adopted in 2002, has many policies and community values that continue to reflect our City vision, however, there are also programs that have not been considered or implemented and some policies that need to be re-visited. Over the next year or two, staff will focus work efforts on a comprehensive update to the General Plan, looking forward toward year 2045.


Land Use Element - Designates the type, intensity, and general distribution of uses of land for housing, business, industry, open space, education, public buildings and grounds, waste disposal facilities, and other categories of public and private uses.
Open Space Element - Details plans and measures for the long–range preservation and conservation of open–space lands, including open space for the preservation of natural resources, the managed production of resources, agriculture, outdoor recreation, and public health and safety.
Conservation Element - Addresses the conservation, development, and use of natural resources, including water, forests, soils, rivers, and mineral deposits. 


The Circulation Element correlates with the land use element and identifies the general location and extent of existing and proposed major roads, transportation routes, terminals, and other local public utilities and facilities.


The Housing Element assesses current and projected housing needs for all economic segments of the community and embodies policies and programs for providing adequate housing. The City last updated its 2021-2028 Housing Element in November 2020.


The Noise Element identifies and appraises noise problems within the community and forms the basis for land use distribution determinations.

The Safety Element establishes policies and programs to protect the community from risks associated with seismic, geologic, flood, and wildfire hazards, as well as from other concerns such as drought.