What is the General Plan?
A General Plan is a long-term document consisting of written text and diagrams that expresses how a community should develop over time—it’s a key tool for influencing quality of life. It specifies locations for new businesses and residences, roads, parks, and other public infrastructure, providing a basis for land use decision-making used by policymakers such as the Planning Commission and the City Council. All cities and counties in California are required by law to have general plans.

Click hereto see the current General Plan.

Why is a General Plan required?
State law mandates that each city and county in California adopt a comprehensive, long-term general plan. The purpose is to plan for important community issues such as new growth, housing needs, and environmental protection. For example, a general plan is used to project future demand for services such as sewer, water, roadways, parks, and emergency services.

What goes into the General Plan?
There are both State-mandated and optional “elements,” or chapters, that go into a general plan. State law requires that a general plan contain at least seven mandated elements: Land Use, Circulation, Housing, Conservation, Open Space, Noise, and Safety. Other elements could include Community Design, Agricultural and Natural Resources, and Health and Safety. The Ceres Housing Element has already been completed under a separate process to conform to State deadlines (see below.)

What geographic area will the Plan cover?
The Planning Area for the Ceres General Plan Update includes the City of Ceres, its Sphere of Influence, unincorporated areas, and a very small amount of land within the city of Modesto. It is bounded by the Tuolumne River on the north, Carpenter Road on the west, Grayson Road on the south, Washington Road on the east. Please see the map for the planning area boundaries.

Why is the Plan being updated?
The current General Plan was adopted in 1997 to cover the subsequent 20 years of development. A lot has changed and continues to change; therefore, the City is updating the General Plan to better reflect the community’s current goals and priorities. Throughout the state, General Plans are typically updated every 10-20 years.

What is the Housing Element?
The Housing Element is one of the seven state-mandated elements of the General Plan. According to state law, all housing elements must identify and analyze existing and projected housing needs; identify adequate sites for housing, including rental housing, factory-built housing, mobile homes, and emergency shelters; and make adequate provision for the existing and projected needs of all economic segments of the community.

How does the Housing Element update fit into the General Plan update?
Per State law, the Housing Element must be updated more frequently than the rest of the General Plan. In Ceres, the Housing Element was prepared separately from the rest of the General Plan, but all General Plan policies will be reviewed for consistency with the Housing Element.

What is an Environmental Impact Report (EIR)?
An EIR is a detailed analysis of the environmental effects of a plan or development project. The EIR identifies alternatives to the proposed project and presents ways to reduce or avoid environmental damage. Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a general plan is considered a project, thus requiring that an EIR be completed in conjunction with the plan. One of the main purposes of the EIR is to inform the public about environmental  impacts, so public engagement during this phase is important. Community members can provide input at two different phases: in response to the Notice of Preparation (NOP), declaring that an EIR is going to be prepared, and to the Draft EIR itself.

How can I get involved?
We welcome citizen participation throughout all phases of the project. Please visit the Participate page for details on upcoming events, or contact us directly with your thoughts and questions.