Land-use impacts health. Control is local. In California, a planning document, called a “general plan” sets forth zoning and policy goals for each city and county. This plan determines how much development will occur, what type of development (eg. single family homes, mixed-use commercial) and where. Plans are collaboratively created by communities over many years and many public meetings. Resulting plan documents are often hundreds of pages in length. You can help shape your local plan and use our database of searchable plans to find policies and programs in place across California.
This research project created the first public-facing and searchable database of general plans – enabling citizen scientists to comprehensively assess plan contents. Our landmark database covers 471 (of 485) California city-level and all 58 county general plans. Working with California state agencies (the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, Housing and Community Development and Air Resources Board) and non-profits (California Environmental Justice Alliance and Communities for a Better Environment), we have developed a portal (https://critical-data-analysis.org/general-plan-map/) where plans can be queried. This website allows community members, state agencies and planners to rapidly compare across plans, helping to foster transfer of policy and a ‘keeping up with the Jones” attitude in pushing the boundaries of planning.
This landmark state-level database of general plans is the first for California- and nationally.
Access the PlanSearch tool here: https://plansearch.caes.ucdavis.edu/
Please reach out if you would like collaborate and add your state to the database. We provide our model in open source code in GitHub for others that wish to build similar planning data infrastructure.
For more information about designing the search tool, please visit: Hack for California, a community of civically-minded data scientists, social scientists, and researchers at UC Davis exploring how open government data can be both leveraged and critiqued towards understanding issues around social justice and equity in California.
- Brinkley, C., & Stahmer, C. (2021). What Is in a Plan? Using Natural Language Processing to Read 461 California City General Plans. Journal of Planning Education and Research.
- We extracted the text of all plans and explored the topical focus of plans using natural language processing techniques. California cities address 60 different topics and a quarter of those topics are regionally specific. We identify a rift in how plans address housing and how they address all other topics.
- Explore the topics in California city plans at the UC Davis Digital Scholarship Lab
- Brinkley, C. Wagner, J (2022) Who is Planning for Environmental Justice and How? Journal of the American Planning Association. https://doi.org/10.1080/01944363.2022.2118155
- We review Environmental Justice policies across all of California’s city plans. We find that cities that are majority communities of color have pioneered the most EJ content and the earliest. This suggests that communities that are not majority of color will need to take more intentional steps to foster representation as they craft health equity policies.
- What to make suggestions for updating your city or county plan? Explore over 600 EJ policies included in California city plans presented in the Appendix
- Coming Soon!: We describe how to build a search engine for general plans
Climate Justice and Energy Planning
- Han, A; Laurian, L; Brinkley, C. (2020) Thermal Planning: What Can Campuses Teach Us about Expanding District Energy? Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
- Brinkley, C., & Leach, A. (2019). Energy next door: a meta-analysis of energy infrastructure impact on housing value. Energy Research & Social Science, 50, 51-65.
- Brinkley, C. (2018). The conundrum of combustible clean energy: Sweden’s history of siting district heating smokestacks in residential areas. Energy Policy, 120, 526-532.
- Brinkley, C., & Hoch, C. (2018). The Ebb and Flow of Planning Specializations. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 0739456X18774119.
- Brinkley, C. (2014). Decoupled: successful planning policies in countries that have reduced per capita greenhouse gas emissions with continued economic growth. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 32(6): 10831099.