State law mandates that every California City and county adopt "a comprehensive, long-term general plan." The elements of the general plan make up the framework for decision-making regarding growth and development in the City. The City of Santa Monica’s General Plan includes the seven (7) state mandated elements-- Land Use, Circulation, Housing, Conservation, Open Space, Noise, and Safety—as well as a Historic Preservation element (adopted in 2002). Much of Santa Monica’s built environment and transportation network reflects the vision and goals articulated in these policy documents.
General Plans need to be updated periodically to reflect current community values, update technical information, and address locally relevant issues. Santa Monica's Land Use and Circulation elements were updated and adopted in 2010 to reflect changes in land use, community needs and values, lifestyles, and the regional marketplace that have occurred since 1984, when the City adopted its previous Land Use element. The Housing Element was updated in compliance with State law and adopted in 2013. The City is not currently in the process of updating any of the General Plan elements.