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We serve the general public, applicants, and other County Departments in an efficient and fair manner to ensure consistency with our general plan, zoning and land use requirements mandated by local ordinances, State and Federal law.

What is Planning?

Planning as a discipline helps to guide development in a logical manner through development policy and implementation.

The County of Orange, like all other California jurisdictions, develop and maintain their own land use policy document called a General Plan.  The General Plan evaluates and creates long range policies for various issues including Land Use, Housing, Open Space, Noise, Air Quality and more.  As part of the General Plan it specifies general land use designations (i.e. residential, commercial, industrial, etc.) and maps where each of these land use designations are located.

Based upon the General Plan, the zoning code and other implementation documents such as specific plans and planned communities are developed.  These documents contain specific regulations which outline in detail what type of uses can be established on a property and how a property can be physically developed.  This is done to ensure development is compatible with the specific location and with the overall area.
The County of Orange Planning Division is composed of four primary planning areas which include, current, advance, subdivision, and environmental.

Current Planning

Current Planning processes development applications for private development projects and reviews plan checks to ensure compliance with the governing implementation documents (i.e. zoning code, specific plans, etc.)  The County of Orange has more than ten different implementation documents in addition to the zoning code which including the Coto de Caza Specific Plan, Foothill/Trabuco Specific Plan, Newport Coast Local Coastal Plan, North Tustin Specific Plan and more.

This division is responsible for the timely and efficient processing of development project submittals while ensuring consistency with all Planning, Zoning and Environmental regulations specific to the area and type of development.  The goal of this division is to work with the residents and developers in a collaborative manner to facilitate and enhance the future development of unincorporated Orange County, while balancing those needs of the communities with the regulations established to preserve the highest standard of living.

Advance Planning

Advance Planning maintains the County of Orange General Plan, Orange County Zoning Code and Specific Plans for the unincorporated area. This section also supports regional planning efforts and liaisons with the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and Orange County Council of Governments (OCCOG). On behalf of the County, this division acts as the State Data Center Affiliate for the California Department of Finance (DOF). The State Data Center Affiliate maintains Census demographic data (population, housing and employment) for the unincorporated areas and provides this information to members of the public and other governmental agencies.

Subdivision Planning

Subdivision Planning is responsible for the timely and efficient processing of maps and related subdivision activities for development projects while ensuring consistency with the California Subdivision Map Act and local ordinances..  Subdivision Planning is responsible for processing subdivision applications including but not limited to Tract Maps, Parcel Maps, Lot Line Adjustments, and Certificates of Compliance.

Environmental Planning

Environmental Planning is focused around the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA.  All divisions of planning require environmental review to evaluate the anticipated environmental impacts of a proposed project or change in regulations.  Environmental review covers many areas of impact including air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, geology, greenhouse gases (GHGs), water quality, traffic, and more.