Search across 500+ California city and county land-use plans

Land-use impacts the health of people and the environment. Decisions happes at the local level. 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 documents are often hundreds of pages in length.

This research project created the first public-facing, searchable database of general plans – enabling citizen scientists to comprehensively assess plan contents and make recommendation to their own jurisdictions based on practice already in place elseswhere. The landmark database covers 481 (of 482) 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 search engine portal ( 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.

General Plan Database Portal

This landmark state-level database of general plans is the first for California- and nationally.

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.

PlanSearch won the 2023 Sacramento Valley Section American Planning Association Academic Award of Excellence

 Winner of the 2023 Sacramento Valley Section American Planning Association Academic Award of Excellence

Research Publications:


Climate Justice and Energy Planning