Local Government

One of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research’s (OPR) core principles is to interface with and provide general planning assistance to local governments. The State delegates most local land use and development decisions to cities and counties. Planning decisions usually require local political approval, and reflect the desires and interests of the community. Local and state laws define the process for making planning decisions. (Government Code Sections 65000-66037).

As the state's comprehensive planning agency, OPR has statutory responsibilities to review general plans, prepare general plan guidelines, consider general plan extension requests, and provide other general technical assistance to planning agencies. OPR often acts as a liaison between state and local governments and between state agencies to encourage collaboration in the achievement of land use goals and objectives. OPR annually surveys local planning agencies and responds to thousands of requests for planning assistance from state and local government agencies. OPR, in its role as the state planning agency, provides technical assistance in the areas of land use planning and environmental review.

Planning Assistance Available from OPR

As part of its technical assistance program, OPR staff is available to answer questions regarding CEQA and various state planning and zoning regulations. OPR publishes numerous technical advice papers and participates several times per year in CEQA and planning-related workshops, courses, and seminars. OPR provides technical planning assistance specifically in the following areas:

Planning and Zoning Regulations

OPR provides technical assistance to cities, counties, regional governments, state agencies, and the general public covering the state planning, zoning and development laws, and other miscellaneous related statues. OPR annually compiles and publishes this compendium of state Planning, Zoning and Development Laws  .

General Plan Guidance and Extensions

OPR provides advice to local governments and the public on application of the state general plan law and periodically revises and publishes the General Plan Guidelines . OPR also processes requests for general plan "extensions", for approval by the Director of OPR. OPR is authorized to grant reasonable extensions of time (up to two years) for the preparation of new general plans or the update of existing general plans upon application by cities or counties. To assist cities and Counties in completing their required annual reports, OPR has prepared a General Plan Annual Progress Report Guidance  Download extensions application form here.

CEQA Assistance

OPR provides advice to local governments and the public on application of CEQA and periodically recommends amendments to the CEQA Guidelines. OPR works with the California Natural Resources Agency to have these amendments adopted in the California Code of Regulations.

Other Responsibilities

  • Act as liaison between local governments, public and private interests and the Governor concerning land use and environmental planning issues.
  • Provide advisory technical assistance to state boards, commissions and agencies relating to land use and environmental laws.
  • Provide interagency consultation pursuant to the State Administrative Manual. State agencies are required to submit their policy plans and related documents to OPR for distribution to other state agencies for review and comment. The State Clearinghouse coordinates this activity.

Local Government Roundtable

OPR invites local governments to participate in our Local Government Roundtable bi-monthly conference call. The Local Government Roundtable provides an opportunity for greater interaction between the Governor’s Office, local governments, and planning agencies to discuss issues of primary concern related to land use planning and local government coordination. This approach allows for open discourse of important issues and informs OPR’s decision-making process. OPR regularly seeks input from local governments on important topic areas and this is one mechanism used to ensure OPR is responding to the needs of local governments.

Upcoming Local Government Roundtable

There are no scheduled Local Government Roundtables at this time.

Planning Resources

These publications range from general topics, including guides to planning in California for citizens and planning commissioners, to technical advice for planners on CEQA. This listing is limited to state and local agencies, or statewide professional organizations whose membership is composed primarily of government representatives. These links do not imply any endorsement of these organizations or their programs.