The General Plan goals and policies are organized across a set of 12 elements divided into three volumes. A description of each element is provided below.

What's in an Element?

At minimum, each element includes the following components. Some elements include additional information.

The elements in the Santa Ana General Plan address topics required by state law and a number that are optional, but of importance to the Santa Ana community.

Some topics are discussed entirely within a single element while others are touched on throughout multiple elements. The list below includes general guidance on which elements include the most information related to each topic.

To see how the General Plan is organized by Volume and Element, go to Elements.

To see how the General Plan addresses these topics and many others, go to Search Elements by Topic.

Required topics

  • Circulation and complete streets (see Mobility Element, including Related General Plan Policies (Table M-3))
  • Climate adaptation and resiliency (primarily addressed in the Safety Element, supported by goals and policies in other elements)
  • Conservation (see Conservation Element, including Related General Plan Policies (Table CN-2))
  • Environmental justice (integrated throughout the General Plan, with a focus in the Community, Mobility, Open Space, and Safety Elements)
  • Housing (see Housing Element)
  • Land use (see Land Use Element, including Related General Plan Policies (Table LU-1))
  • Noise (see Noise Element, including Related General Plan Policies (Table N-2))
  • Open space (see Open Space Element, including Related General Plan Policies (Table OS-2)
  • Public utilities and facilities (see Public Services, including Related General Plan Policies (Table PS-1))
  • Safety (see Safety Element, including Related General Plan Policies (Table S-1))

Optional topics

Each element contains a set of goals and policies on matters related to one or more topics. Goals are statements of desired future conditions toward which efforts, regulations, and use of resources are directed. Policies are statements that guide decision-making and specify an intended level of public commitment on a subject.

The tables, figures, and maps shall also be considered City policies, offering either greater detail or a visual depiction of the context or intended outcome.

Most of the improvements envisioned by this General Plan will not take place overnight. Both goals and policies are intended to be long-term in nature and are not intended to be changed frequently.

Each element also contains an implementation section that provides a list, organized by goal, of the actions to take place in the next one to five years to make progress toward said goal(s).

These implementation actions provide the basis for establishing priorities, scheduling, and assigning staff and other resources. Implementation actions also identify who is responsible for implementing the action item and when it should be carried out.

Implementation is often contingent upon adequate funding. While many actions can be pursued through initiatives already underway, others will require additional resources. As such, the exact mix and timing of programs the City may pursue will in part be opportunity driven, dependent on the availability of funding, staffing, and other necessary resources.

The General Plan (all content) must be internally consistent and all other City plans and documents must be consistent with the General Plan.

Volume 1: Services and Infrastructure

Community Element

The Community Element reinforces the City’s values of recreation, culture, education, and health and wellness, and cultivates opportunities for improved quality of life for all residents. The goals and policies of this element can be made operational through partnerships with local agencies and organizations on facilities, activities, and events throughout Santa Ana.

Mobility Element

The Mobility Element is the City’s blueprint for moving people, goods, and resources throughout the community. Moving beyond mere functionality, the City seeks to improve the quality of life in Santa Ana by providing more complete streets, offering ways to be more active, and conserving our natural resources. In planning the City’s transportation system for the 21st century, the City is also making our community safer, more affordable, and more livable.

Economic Prosperity Element

The Economic Prosperity Element ensures that Santa Ana’s local economy, and its role in the broader regional economy, expands, maintains, and enhances job opportunities; attracts and retains a balance of business types; provides sufficient revenue for public services; and contributes to the overall quality of life experienced by the City’s residents.

Public Services Element

The Public Services Element reinforces the City’s values of recreation, culture, education, and health and wellness, and cultivates opportunities for improved quality of life for all residents. The goals and policies of this element can be made operational through partnerships with local agencies and organizations on facilities, activities, and events throughout Santa Ana.

Volume 2: Natural Environment

Conservation Element

The Conservation Element identifies the city’s natural resources and communicates the benefits for retention, enhancement, and development of these reserves toward improving quality of life and the environment as a whole. This Element will guide the City in its efforts to prioritize sustainability and enhance the environment for current and future generations.

Open Space Element

The Open Space Element identifies and preserves open space areas that provide value to the community and enrich the quality of life. Such lands or waters provide value in the form of recreation, health, biodiversity, wildlife conservation, and aesthetics. Additionally, open spaces are used for climate change mitigation and adaption, flood risk reduction, managed natural resources production, agricultural production, and protection from hazardous conditions. This Element will guide the City in its efforts to plan for open space lands in what is largely a built-out, urban environment.

Noise Element

The Noise Element appraises noise levels in the community, prepares noise contours to guide land use decisions, and establishes measures that address current and future noise impacts. This Element works to ensure that the City limits the exposure of the community to excessive noise levels in noise-sensitive areas and at noise-sensitive times of day.

Safety Element

The Safety Element eliminates and minimizes risks associated with natural and human-generated hazards such as floods, earthquakes, and hazardous materials. By assessing and preparing for levels of risk, the city can endure the range of safety hazards and adapt to changes over time. This Element also contains, by reference, the City’s Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, which is provided under separate cover.

Volume 3: Built Environment

Land Use Element

The Land Use Element provide a long-range guide for the physical development of the city, reflecting the community’s vision for a high quality of life. This Element guides the distribution, location, and size of new development, ensuring that residential neighborhoods are protected and that future growth is sustainable and minimizes potential conflicts.

Housing Element

The Housing Element directs the City’s policies, programs, and land use planning to address the needs of both existing and future residents. This includes planning and facilitating, the production of new housing; the improvement and preservation of existing housing; the promotion of affordability for current households; and the affirmative furtherance of fair housing. Unlike other elements, the Housing Element must be reviewed and certified by the state.

Historic Preservation Element

The Historic Preservation Element guides development and implementation to ensure that identification, designation, and protection of architectural, historical, cultural, and archaeological resources are integrated into the City’s planning, development, and permitting processes.

Urban Design Element

The Urban Design Element establishes the long-range vision for the physical design, visual qualities, and sensory experience of the city. This element addresses the public realm and building form, and establishes programs and measures to improve the physical setting in which community life takes place while curtailing obsolete, dysfunctional, and chaotic development.

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