California law requires that each county and city in the state develop and adopt a General Plan. The General Plan consists of a statement of development policies and includes a diagram or diagrams and text setting forth objectives, principles standards, and plan proposals. It is a comprehensive long-term plan for the physical development of the county or city. In this sense, it is a "blueprint" for development.
The General Plan must contain seven state-mandated elements. It may also contain any other elements that the legislative body of the county or city wishes to adopt. The seven (7) mandated elements are: Land Use, Open Space, Conservation, Housing, Circulation, Noise, and Safety. The General Plan may be adopted in any form deemed appropriate or convenient by the legislative body of the county or city, including the combining of elements.