Comprehensive or general plans are long-range documents intended to guide future urban or regional land use, growth, and development. Structured and periodic monitoring and evaluation of plan implementation is important to identifying when plans should be revised or updated based on changed planning assumptions or conditions, but such monitoring is uncommon. In this study we present and illustrate a research-based method to evaluate general plan implementation for a case-study community located in central California. A community survey was combined with participatory mapping to assess continued public approval of key elements of the general plan: 1) residential growth, 2) community development needs, 3) preferred locations for development (spatial), 4) consistency of resident land use preferences with general plan categories (spatial), and 5) areas with the greatest potential for land use conflict (spatial). Over the five-year period following plan adoption, there was relatively little change in general resident preferences for residential growth or the perceived need for new types of urban development, with the exception of affordable housing; however, city approval of three large, mixed-use development projects, while nominally conforming to the plan, generated community conflict based on development scale and location. As a novel plan monitoring and evaluation method, a community survey combined with participatory mapping provides a means to assess consistency with plan assumptions, desired conditions, and goals and can proactively identify the potential for place-based conflicts among various interests to identify optimized community land use outcomes.
- General plan
- Geographic information systems
- Land conflict
- Participatory mapping