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Governor’s Office of Planning and Research


The Office of Planning and Research (OPR), created by statute in 1970, is part of the Office of the Governor. OPR serves the Governor and his Cabinet as staff for long-range planning and research, and constitutes the comprehensive state planning agency.

One of OPR’s core principles is to interface with and provide general planning assistance to local governments. OPR has statutory responsibilities to review general plans, prepare general plan guidelines, consider general plan extension requests, and provide other general technical assistance to planning agencies.

OPR often acts as a liaison between state and local governments and between state agencies to encourage collaboration in the achievement of land use goals and objectives. OPR annually surveys local planning agencies and responds to thousands of requests for planning assistance from state and local government agencies. OPR, in its role as the state planning agency, provides technical assistance in the areas of land use planning and environmental review.

OPR has several resources to assist local governments. For an up to date list of OPR’s publications, please visit:

California Planning Guide: An Introduction to Planning in California (December 2005). A layperson’s introduction to the mysterious world of planning. The general plan, zoning, land subdivision, and the California Environmental Quality Act are among the topics discussed. It also contains a glossary of common planning terms and suggests additional readings in the field. See Documents & Resources at right.

The Conditional Use Permit (August 1997). A detailed discussion of the legal requirements for conditional use permits, intended to instruct planning staff. See Related Links at right.

General Plan Guidelines (October 2003). This is a guide for local planners in preparing general plans and also for other local government officials and community members who may have less familiarity with planning theory, practice and land use law. This advisory guide is the state’s only official document interpreting and explaining California’s legal requirements for general plans. The newly revised Guidelines present a foundation upon which planning agencies can prepare their general plans to meet state legal requirements. See Documents & Resources at right.

Planner’s Guide to Specific Plans (January 2001). This is a guide to the use and function of specific plans in California. It examines the pertinent statutes, suggests guidelines for the preparation and implementation of a plan, and provides examples and references to unique or innovative plans prepared throughout the state. It also discusses pertinent case law, specific plan fees, and the relationships of specific plans to other planning documents such as general plans and zoning ordinances. See Documents & Resources at right.

The Planning Commissioner’s Book (Revised May 1998). This publication is both a training tool for new planning commissioners as well as a handy general reference on planning. It includes brief overviews of the role of the planning commissioner, the job of the planning commissioner, and state planning law requirements. See Related Links at right.

Planning, Zoning and Development Laws (2010). A compilation of California statutes pertaining to city and county planning and zoning activities. Also includes the Subdivision Map Act, the Outdoor Advertising Act, and the Delta Protection Act. See Documents & Resources at right.

The Variance (July 1997). A detailed discussion of the legal requirements for variances, intended to instruct planning staff. See Related Links at right.


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