General Plan Update Introduction


What is a General Plan? 

The City's General Plan serves as a basis for decisions that affect the City’s growth and development such as transportation, land use, streets and infrastructure, parks, housing and neighborhoods, recreation and community facilities, downtown, the environment, public health and safety, and flooding. The General Plan is a strategic and long term document identifying goals and polices that guides and directs the City in terms of implementing policies, programs and resources. As required by State law, the City of Novato’s General Plan includes seven chapters, or "elements": land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, noise and safety.

Presentation on General Plan

The City's General Plan was last completely updated and approved by City Council in December 1996. The Housing Element was last updated in June, 2014, approved by the City Council on November 18, 2014 and approved by the state Housing and Community Development Department in January 2015.

Why does it need to be updated? 

The General Plan is the principal policy document guiding the development and conservation of local municipalities, and is often referred to as the “constitution” of local development. The General Plan also reflects the vision and values of a community. To remain effective, a General Plan usually focuses on a time horizon of 10 years. Novato’s General Plan was last comprehensively updated in 1996; the City is looking towards 2035 with the General Plan update. New State regulations have been enacted, and our perspectives on land use and environmental issues have changed.

The General Plan update is also an opportunity to formally incorporate locally adopted climate change documents into the new General Plan. In 2009, Novato adopted a Climate Action Plan (CAP), and in May 2013, adopted an updated Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory using data from 2010. The intent is to weave climate change and adaptation strategies through the relevant chapters of the General Plan, set GHG emissions reduction targets and establish a long-term strategy to achieve those targets.   

How can I participate?

There are many ways to help shape Novato’s General Plan 2035. The City will hold workshops, open houses, and neighborhood meetings from August through mid-October:

Workshops at City Hall, 901 Sherman Avenue

Meeting-style format; get an overview of the General Plan, ask questions, and give your feedback.
  • Wednesday, August 10 at 7-9pm
  • Saturday, August 20 at 10am-12pm
  • Wednesday, August 31 at 7-9pm

Open Houses at City Hall, 901 Sherman Avenue

Drop-in format; select General Plan topics of interest at staffed tables where you can get more information, ask questions, and provide feedback.
  • Saturday, September 10 at 10am-2pm
  • Thursday, September 15 at 1-4pm
  • Thursday, September 22 at 5-8pm

Neighborhood meetings throughout Novato

Staff will host meetings within the community; get an overview of the General Plan, ask questions, and give your feedback.
  • Monday, September 12, 7-9 pm
  • Monday, September 26, 7-9 pm
  • Wednesday, September 28, 7-9 pm
  • Thursday, October 6, 7-9 pm
  • Thursday, October 13, 7-9 pm

Can’t join us? Comments can be submitted to Christine O’Rourke, General Plan Manager, at

A survey on Open Novato will also be available. Sign-up at to get notified when the survey is posted.

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