General Plan Update Public Hearings

The Planning Commission reviewed the General Plan Update and related Environmental Impact Report (EIR) at its regular meeting on February 5, 2020. A recommendation was made regarding its approval to the City Council. The City Council will review the General Plan Update and related EIR at its regular meeting on Wednesday,  March 11, 2020, at 7:00 p.m.

All of the documents are available for review on this page, on the City Agendas and Minutes page,  and at City Hall. To make an appointment to view the documents at City Hall, Please email  Wendy Starks, Principal Planner, or call (949) 635-1800 x6704. 

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What is the General Plan?
A requirement of California law cities must adopt a General Plan to identify the community's priorities and vision of the future.  The General Plan is our collective vision for how we want the community to improve during the next 10-20 years.  It is the blueprint to determine the way Rancho Santa Margarita looks and feels, and for meeting anticipated future needs.  When the City Council makes decision on land use, transportation, open space, community services, and other important topics, they are guided by this community blueprint.  The General Plan is also used by the Planning Commission, boards, and city staff to evaluate proposed building and development projects and to make recommendations to the City Council.

As the name suggest, the General Plan provides general guidance to address the seven elements required by California law, in addition to topics that the community feels are important, such as Economic Development.  The plan is implemented through more specific and detailed City programs, ordinances, and regulations such as the Zoning Ordinance and Capital Improvement Program.

What will the General Plan look like for Rancho Santa Margarita?

Rancho Santa Margarita has remained strong with a mix of land uses and a balance of jobs and housing in which people live, work, shop and play.  According to a 2014 survey, residents view Rancho Santa Margarita as an excellent place to live, with  many believing that the quality of life is likely to improve or "get even better" in the next five years.  Successful implementation of the previous small-own village character of Rancho Santa Margarita is protected and enhanced.

With the significant progress that has been made in implementing the previous iteration of the General Plan and the desire to enhance the quality of like and encourage economic development as the community continues to grow and mature, the Rancho Santa Margarita City Council has determined the need to provide a strategic "refresh" to several General Plan Elements.  Residents overwhelmingly support established core planning policies; therefore, the General Plan Update provides and opportunity to reaffirm existing goals and policies that have served to shape the City we enjoy today.  Goals and policies that are no longer relevant or need updating to reflect changing regulatory requirements will be addressed, and new goals and policies may be crafted that further support and maintain Rancho Santa Margarita as "A small city with the soul of a small village."
What we heard from you:

Summer 2016
During the Rancho Santa Margarita 2016 Summer Concert Series (July 10, July 17, July 24, and July 31), the City hosted a General Plan Update community outreach booth.  Information was presented to the community about the General Plan Update, and we asked for input and feedback from concertgoers of all ages about their values and priorities regarding the future of Rancho Santa Margarita.  Community members were asked to share their favorite thing about Rancho Santa Margarita, and to identify what they value most about the City; if there was anything that they would like to see improved, and to provide any additional comments or ideas.  Thank you to all who participated  - we appreciate your feedback.  

Comments Received Summary. (Summer 2016)

Fall 2016

Several roadshow and focus group meetings were conducted in September and October. These meetings provided an opportunity for focused outreach to specific groups and organizations, such as the Bell Tower Foundation and Boys and Girls Club, among others. The purpose of the meetings was to provide a forum for attendees to provide input specific to their area of interest or expertise. Each meeting began with an overview presentation of the General Plan Update process. Attendees then engaged in an open discussion guided by questions specific to the group or topical area.

Discussion and comments received at each of the meetings. (Fall 2016)


Contact Us

Contact the City with questions and comments:
Phone: (949) 635-1800

General Plan Elements

The General Plan included seven state-mandated "Elements" or chapters, that focus on specific topics. Each element included specific goals and policies.

  • Land Use
  • Noise
  • Safety
  • Conservation/Open Space
  • Economic Development
  • Housing*
  • Circulation*
Rancho Santa Margarita will be updating the Land Use, Noise, Safety, Conservation, Open Space, and Economic Development Elements.

*Updated in 2013

Goals and Policies

Each element of the General Plan identifies goals and policies to guide future planning in the City.

  • Goal: A general statement describing a desired future condition.
  • Policy: A statement of commitment designed to guide future decisions in such a way that the General Plan goals will be achieved. 

Implementation Programs

The General Plan Implementation Program identifies the systems, procedures, or techniques that implement the General Plan goals and policies. 
General Plan Update Timeline