Climate Resilience Planning Resources
Resources, guidance, and technical assistance for planners and communities to plan and implement local climate change resilience goals.
OPR leads, coordinates, and advises on the development of various guidance documents, tools, and data resources to support local and regional planning and implementation of the State’s climate goals and regulations. The resources on this page can support local government and community climate resilience efforts.
State law requires local jurisdictions to address climate vulnerability and incorporate climate adaptation policies into their planning, as described below. Many jurisdictions also develop greenhouse gas mitigation or climate action plans or elements to achieve local, regional, and state emissions reduction goals. OPR offers the resources in this section to help local jurisdictions meet climate adaptation and mitigation goals and requirements.
As the field of climate adaptation continues to evolve, so too does our understanding of how to secure investments that support climate adaptation strategies and resilient communities. Many local jurisdictions across California have started incorporating climate change considerations into local planning efforts, however many jurisdictions face significant barriers to implementation due to financing and funding challenges. Given the relative newness of the field of practice, there are a limited number of guidance resources currently available.
In an effort to support this emergent area, the Governor's Office of Planning and Research, through the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resilience Program (ICARP), developed a climate adaptation finance book, authored by Jesse M. Keenan from Harvard University. Climate Adaptation Finance and Investment in California is available as both an e-book and as a PDF.
Addressing Climate Resilience in the General Plan
A general plan is each local government’s blueprint for meeting the community’s long-term vision for the future. Every city and county must incorporate required “elements” into their general plan. Additional optional elements may also be included. OPR’s General Plan Guidelines can help communities integrate climate resilience into general plan goals, policies, and programs. The safety, environmental justice, and climate change sections of the guidelines (Chapters 4 & 8) in particular outline climate resilience considerations.
The safety element of a general plan must outline goals and policies that protect communities from “unreasonable risks” (GC § 65302(g)). Pursuant to Senate Bill 379 (2015) and codified in GC § 65302(g)(4), local governments are required to analyze and identify their community’s vulnerability to climate change and climate-related hazards in the safety element. In addition to providing safety element guidance, OPR published two supplemental reports focused on fire hazard planning and SB 379 implementation, respectively. And finally, the ICARP Technical Advisory Council published a guide to assist communities in defining and identifying vulnerable communities in the context of climate adaptation.
Environmental Justice Element
Senate Bill 1000 (Leyva, 2016) amended Government Code Section 65302 to require that cities and counties that have disadvantaged communities incorporate Environmental Justice (EJ) policies into their general plans. While not specifically required, local agencies should consider that climate change will disproportionately impact vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. Therefore, considering climate vulnerability in disadvantaged communities when preparing the vulnerability assessment and adaptation goals, policies, and programs for the safety element would be an appropriate linkage with the EJ element or equivalent.
Climate Change Chapter
The climate change chapter of OPR’s general plan guidelines can help communities align planning mechanisms. This resource summarizes how a general plan or climate action plan can be consistent with CEQA Guidelines section 15183.5 (b) and associated CEQA streamlining opportunities.
State Adaptation Clearinghouse
The Adaptation Clearinghouse at ResilientCA.org is the State of California’s consolidated searchable database of resources for local, regional and statewide climate adaptation planning and decision-making. Search and explore resources for adaptation and resiliency efforts in California, including case studies; tools, data and scientific studies; example plans and projects; guidance, templates and technical documents; and more from localities across the state. The Adaptation Clearinghouse is managed by OPR’s Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program.
2020 Adaptation Planning Guide
The Adaptation Planning Guide (APG) provides guidance to local governments on local adaptation and resiliency planning. The guide is available both as a downloadable PDF and as an interactive, online resource integrated into the search and resource features of the State Adaptation Clearinghouse. The APG features a four-phase process broken down into manageable steps that communities can use to plan for climate change. The APG is designed to be flexible and responsive to community needs, and integrates equity and community engagement throughout all planning phases. The guide also features a summary of statewide guidance, resources and tools, updated from the 2012 original to reflect 2020 best practices, best available science, and the latest updates to state plans, policies, programs and regulations.
ResilientCA Adaptation Planning Map
The ResilientCA Adaptation Planning Map (RAP-MAP) is an open data tool developed by the OPR to inventory local government climate risk, adaptation, and resiliency planning efforts across the state and track progress towards statewide adaptation planning goals. Users can quickly access the planning details of California cities and counties.
Climate Resilience Plan Alignment Guides
Adaptation Clearinghouse plan alignment guides support the alignment of multiple planning efforts and documents, allowing local planners to achieve climate mitigation and adaptation goals, reduce duplication, and avoid policy conflicts. Planners, emergency managers, and climate adaptation practitioners use these guides to understand how different planning processes align, apply best practices, and inform local government actions to develop and implement plans.
The Solar Permitting Guidebook
In order to expand small-scale renewable energy across California, OPR helps remove barriers to its development by providing guidance and technical assistance to communities. One such barrier is the patchwork of permitting requirements for small solar installations throughout the state. Solar energy systems have been installed in California for decades, and their technology, as well as the methods to install and maintain them, is well established. As a result, permitting for these small and simple solar projects should be as simple and standardized as possible. This Guidebook recommends a process for expedited permitting of solar installations.
The following capacity building resources support local jurisdictions' ability to take action on climate resilience.
CivicSpark and Climate Action Corps Fellowships and Service
CivicSpark is a Governor’s Initiative AmeriCorps program dedicated to building capacity for local public agencies to address community resilience issues such as climate change, water resource management, housing, and mobility. CivicSpark is a program of CivicWell in partnership with the State of California through the Office of Planning and Research and California Volunteers.
The California Climate Action Corps is the country’s first state-level climate service corps. Developed by California Volunteers, the service corps was established to empower all Californians to take meaningful action to safeguard the climate.
Partners Advancing Climate Equity
Partners Advancing Climate Equity (PACE) is a capacity-building program for frontline community leaders from across California to connect and learn with peers, take their skills to the next level, and inspire transformative change. Participants receive in-depth training and mentorship to cultivate skills in:
- Leveraging available resources to advance local climate resilience and social equity priorities
- Creating data-driven community needs assessments and developing action plans
- Forming and sustaining cross-sector partnerships that enhance collective impact strategies
- Navigating State funding programs, policies, resources, and decision-making processes
State Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Programs and Resources
The Community Assistance for Climate Equity Program (CACE) provides technical assistance and builds capacity for California’s most under-resourced communities in building their resources, capacity, implementation experience, and technical expertise to implement multi-benefit climate mitigation and adaptation projects. CACE focuses on building local capacity through collaboration between multi-sector partners to more effectively and equitably develop competitive funding proposals in partnership with impacted communities.
OPR Climate Services Local Assistance
OPR’s Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program supports California climate adaptation practitioners and communities by providing climate services such as actionable guidance, decision support tools, and technical assistance.