What is the Comp Plan?

The Comprehensive Plan is the primary tool for guiding preservation and development in Palo Alto. It builds on shared community values and aspirations to guide preservation and to manage growth and change.

The Plan fulfills the State requirement that the City adopt a General Plan to serve as its constitution, with internally consistent goals and policies that reflect the community’s priorities regarding land use, circulation, conservation, housing, open space, noise, and safety. The Plan provides a foundation for the City’s development regulations, capital improvements program, and day-to-day decisions.
The current revisions will bring all the Plan Elements up to date, address changing demographic, economic and environmental conditions, and look forward to 2030. The Housing Element is being updated separately to meet a January 2015 deadline set by the State.

The Comprehensive Plan was last updated from 1998 to 2002, with the intent of being re-examined by 2010. City Staff and consultants started work with the Planning and Transportation Commission (PTC) in late 2008 to review each Element and to shape conceptual plans for the California Avenue/Fry’s and the East Meadow Circle/Fabian Way areas. From then until recently, the PTC has carefully reviewed each Element. As needed amendments have been identified to create a clearer, more cohesive document, the update program has grown to include changing the format and organization of the Plan.

Extended Public Review

Meanwhile, renewed development pressures have exacerbated concerns about traffic, parking, and other quality of life issues in Palo Alto. Accordingly, the City is initiating a new community dialog to ensure that the updated Plan, to be called Our Palo Alto 2030, is a blueprint for preservation, change, and growth management over the next two decades that truly reflects our collective community vision.

The newly expanded process includes a series of phases that efficiently integrate the planning and environmental review components of the update:

  • The Lead-In phase will involve collecting detailed background data to inform the community and updating the project website to post the findings.
  • The Visioning phase will introduce the community to Our Palo Alto 2030, engages residents in conversations about critical challenges, determines the scope of environmental review, and develops three alternative futures for detailed study.
  • The Draft Plan and Draft EIR will present draft policies, programs, alternative futures, and mitigation strategies. Extensive public input will help shape these for consideration by the City Council.
  • The Final Plan and EIR will incorporate substantive public comments for consideration and finalization by the PTC and City Council in late 2015.
  • A User’s Guide in print and interactive online forms will explain how the City will use Our Palo Alto 2030; how its goals, policies, and programs will affect the community; and how the Plan can be amended in the future.

A Continuum of Engagement

The City is offering a variety of engagement tools and techniques to create a welcoming and interactive environment for the community to share ideas and concerns about what should be addressed in Our Palo Alto 2030. These opportunities range from informal discussions with City officials and staff to online surveys and community meetings. The engagement opportunities are scheduled throughout the planning process and tailored to each phase. For instance, during the Visioning phase, emphasis is placed on community meetings and online input to inform the development of alternative futures.

Public involvement activities will build awareness, encourage comment on vital issues, and promote participation by Palo Altans who might not otherwise get involved. The City welcomes your voice in improving our efforts. If you would like City staff to speak to your neighborhood organization, service club, or other group, please click here.