California Planning and Zoning Statutes

Government Code §§65000–66301, Amended 2019

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Table of Contents

Accessory Dwelling Units

These statutes requires all localities to permit accessory dwelling units (ADUs) by-right or subject to ministerial approval on any lot zoned for residential use and containing an existing single-family home.

The law establishes the rationale for this requirement (§65852.150). It describes what local ADU ordinances can regulate, stipulates how localities must treat applications that conform to state standards, establishes conditions where ADUs are exempt from off-street parking requirements, addresses fees for ADU construction, authorizes ordinances that are less restrictive than state standards, requires localities to submit their ordinances to the state, and defines several terms (§65852.2). The law includes a separate preemption of local ordinances that prohibit or require a discretionary approval for internal “junior” ADUs of 500 ft2 or less with a kitchenette (§65852.22).

Capital Improvements Programming

These statutes require capital projects to conform with the local comprehensive plan (§§65401–65403). It requires special-purpose units of government to submit CIPs to the local city or county for review before adoption.

Environmentally Sensitive Areas

California’s planning enabling statute requires comprehensive plans to include a conservation element to address natural resources (§65302(d)). Comprehensive plans must address conservation development, and utilization of forests, rivers, water bodies, wildlife, and mineral areas. Optional components include reclamation of land and water, pollution prevention, and watershed protection (§65302(d)(2)). Additionally, the statute requires identification of waterways, flood corridors, riparian habitats, and groundwater recharge areas (§65302(d)(3)).

Palm Desert's Comprehensive General Plan includes a conservation element, as required by this statute.

Planning and Zoning Enabling Laws

These statutes enable cities and counties in California to form planning commissions and to prepare, adopt, and amend comprehensive plans and zoning regulations. Individual sections address provisions and requirements for regional planning districts (§§65060-65069.5), local planning (§§65100-65763), and zoning regulations (§§65800-65912). 

Cities and counties are required to prepare and adopt general plans (§65300).

City and county zoning ordinances are required to be consistent with the general plan (§65860).

Scenic View Protection

California’s planning enabling statute specifies that land use elements in comprehensive plans should include information on areas for enjoyment of scenic beauty (§65302(a)).