How to Structure and Design a Plan:

  • How to Build a General Plan:
    • Governor’s Office of Planning and Research General Plan Guidelines: This document serves as a resource to help jurisdictions draft and update their General Plans. Technical advisory documents provide supplemental information about General Plan topics in response to local needs around the state or changes in State law.
    • Model General Plans:
    • How to Build a Climate Action Plan:
      • Climate Smart Communities– Climate Action Planning Guide: This is a CAP guide that includes all the helpful considerations and components you need to organize your CAP and make baseline assessments of your city’s GHG emissions.
      • Model Climate Action Plans:
      • How to Build a Local Hazard Mitigation Plan:
        • Hazard Mitigation Planning | These are general hazard mitigation planning resources from FEMA with guidance on how to incorporate their policies.
        • Local Mitigation Planning Handbook: This handbook is a tool for local governments to use in developing or updating a local hazard mitigation plan. The purpose of the Handbook is the following: 1. To provide guidance to local governments on developing or updating hazard mitigation plans to meet the requirements of Title 44 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §201.6 for FEMA approval and eligibility to apply for FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs; and 2. to offer practical approaches and examples for how communities can engage in effective planning to reduce long-term risk from natural hazards and disasters.
        • Model Local Hazard Mitigation Plans:

How to Facilitate Public Participation in Planning:

  • Building Partnerships:
    • Partnering with Community-Based Organizations for More Broad-Based Public Engagement: This publication is for local government officials interested in collaborating with local community-based organizations to enhance the breadth and depth of participation by community residents in local decision-making. Interviews with both local officials and community leaders throughout California were used to generate guidance for those who are getting started or want to enhance their relationships with more of their community.
  • Communicating Policies:
    • Climate Communication for Local Governments: ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA developed this resource to assist local government members with communicating climate change issues to the public. The document is organized into five guidelines. Each section lists the takeaway points as well as additional resources. At the end of the guide, you’ll find a cheat sheet with a summary of all five guidelines and their takeaway points.
    • Unlocking Climate Communications: The RAPID Climate Action Network created this story map resource at a Hackathon with 40 groups representing local and regional governments, professionals, businesses, and nonprofit communications. This story map provides details on climate communication strategies that local governments and nonprofits can use to empower, influence, and build advocacy with decision-makers, community members, and others.
  • Equitable Public Engagement:
    • Equitable Community Engagement Blueprint: This document was developed to advance equitable community engagement across the City of Durham by offering specific guidelines that can be adapted and replicated across City initiatives. It prescribes intentional engagement methodologies and procedures to ensure historically underrepresented communities are included in the City’s planning and decision-making processes.
    • General Plan Guidelines – Chapter 3 Community Engagement and Outreach: This chapter from the CA OPR General Plan Guidelines document specifically discusses various issues planning departments may consider when designing a public engagement process. It also provides tools and lists resources to inform the outreach process and ensure community involvement, input, and support for the general plan

Climate Policy Resources for Mitigation and Adaptation:

  • Community Resilience Organizations Self-Assessment Online Tool: This tool can help understand and prioritize potential actions. It can also help communities track progress over time, as the city completes actions and improves resilience.
  • The Adaptation Planning Guide: This document provides step-by-step guidance to local governments and communities on local adaptation and resilience planning. It is designed to be flexible and responsive to community needs
  • HUD Community Resilience Toolkit: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Resilience Toolkit is designed to assist communities in enhancing their resilience to climate-related natural hazard risks.
  • Adaptation Workbook: The Adaptation Workbook is a structured process to consider the potential effects of climate change and design land management and conservation actions that can help prepare for changing conditions. The process is completely flexible to accommodate a wide variety of geographic locations, ownership types, ecosystems and land uses, management goals, and project sizes.
  • Proposed Funding Pathways for Adaptation to Climate Change in California
  • Community Resilience Assessment — Community Resilience Organizations: This tool can help understand and prioritize potential actions. It can also help communities track progress over time, as the city completes actions and improves resilience.
  • Coastal Community Resilience Indicators and Rating Systems: The goal of this report is to minimize the obstacles a community may face when starting to assess community resilience. The report is designed to connect communities to the tools and resources best suited for moving them forward in the planning process.
  • US EPA Regional Resilience Toolkit: This toolkit provides: a coordinated process for meeting many different state and federal planning requirements, communication and outreach guidance and resources for engaging a broad coalition of stakeholders across a region, guidance for project teams who are conducting vulnerability assessments, writing required plans, and implementing projects, tools that can be used with an advisory group and to bring in decision-makers and community leaders to guide the overall action plan and ensure its successful implementation

Resilience Resources with an Equity Lens:

  • Guide to Expanding Mitigation: Making the Connection to Equity: This guide shows how community officials can partner with the whole community to strive for equity in hazard mitigation, including the planning and project development process. This guide is a starting place for community officials to initiate a conversation about mitigation investments that make communities both more equitable, more resilient, and avoid the situation in which risk reduction measures displace the very people they are intended to protect.
  • CalEnviroScreen: CalEnviroScreen is a screening methodology that can be used to help identify California communities that are disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution.
  • Racial Equity: Getting to the Results: Government Alliance on Race and Equity has created this tool to assist jurisdictions on how to use a racial equity lens and create a set of metrics for their work. This document connects a racial equity lens to the Results-Based Accountability (RBA) methodology to help empower jurisdictions to make good decisions and advance racial equity. An anti-racist, racial equity-focused RBA starts with the desired end results and works backward towards the “how” to ensure that Racial Equity Action Plans move toward community results with stakeholder-driven implementation.
  • Advancing Climate Justice in California: Guiding Principles and Recommendations for Policy and Funding Decisions August 2017: This is a document created by the Climate Justice Working Group (CJWG), which includes environmental justice, public health, and climate equity leaders, who convened to develop recommendations for ensuring that the 2017 update of Safeguarding California—California’s climate change adaptation strategy—is responsive to environmental justice and climate equity concerns. This document gives detailed and comprehensive recommendations for state adaptation and resilience priorities. CJWG’s work covered the following sectors: agriculture, biodiversity and habitat, emergency management, energy, forestry, land use and community development, oceans and coastal resources, public health, transportation, and water.
  • Building Alliances for Equitable Resilience: This document provides guidance, perspectives, stories, and resources for equitable resilience planning. It was gathered from hundreds of testimonies and people from diverse industries.
  • California Environmental Justice Alliance SB1000 Toolkit: This Toolkit clarifies SB 1000’s requirements and provides a planning process, tools, methodologies, and resources to support local governments and planners as they begin to implement the statutes of SB 1000.
  • Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs: To prioritize the climate adaptation and community resilience needs of frontline communities and address the historical neglect they have experienced, California must move beyond embracing equity to making it real. This requires centering community needs and building social equity into the very fabric of policies and grant programs that focus on climate adaptation and resilience. To get there, this Guidebook offers policymakers a blueprint on how to operationalize equity in policies and grant programs.
  • Justice in nature-based solutions: Research and pathways: This academic paper makes the argument that to truly center justice in research and practice there needs to be a re-orientation towards just nature-based solutions—approaches that utilize the power of nature and people to transform the social, political, and economic drivers of inequality.
  • A framework for assessing and implementing the co-benefits of nature-based solutions in urban areas: This academic paper provides a framework for assessing the co-benefits (and costs) of nature-based solutions within and across ten challenge areas.
  • Just Transition – Office of Planning and Research: This website highlights California’s Just Transition Roadmap. This roadmap will provide a framework for California’s economic recovery that recognizes global and statewide shifts in key industries and regional economies likely to result from a transition to carbon neutrality.



  • Sea Level Rise and Flooding:
    • What Threat Does Sea-Level Rise Pose to California?: This is an independent report done by the CA Legislative Analyst Office, a nonpartisan fiscal and policy analysis agency that provides advice to the California Legislature. The report considers the fiscal and structural threats that sea level rise may cause in California.
    • BCDC Adapting to Rising Tides: Providing staff support, guidance, tools, and information to help agencies and organizations understand, communicate and begin to resolve complex climate change issues.
    • SF Bay Adapt: A Bay Area regional strategy for planning for sea-level rise.
    • Our Coast Our Future: This web application provides an interactive mapping tool where you are able to explore groundwater depth, flooding depth and duration, and cliff and shoreline types. This is available for the whole California Coast.
    • Coastal Community Resilience Indicators and Rating Systems: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wrote this report to help local planners sort through and find the resources for benchmarking resilience (setting a baseline) and tracking (monitoring) progress that are most appropriate for their community’s needs. This report provides key information about tools and resources (e.g., guidance documents, approaches, frameworks) to help community planners easily digest the information and find those that are best suited for assessing their current level of resilience, thereby improving coastal resilience monitoring across the nation.
  • Drought:
    • A Planner’s Guide to Drought and Cascading Impacts: Planners can use this guide to familiarize themselves with drought as a unique hazard and learn about the interrelatedness of drought to other hazards, which this document calls “cascading hazards”. The guide examines drought’s “cascading effects,” including impacts on health, the economy, and more. Also included are “points of intervention,” which is where planners can use planning tools to reduce the risk of drought and its cascading impacts. The guide emphasizes the integration of drought into the network of local plans, like the comprehensive plan, and offers advice on how to consider drought and its effects in the risk assessment[GLO] of the hazard mitigation plan. Finally, effectively communicating drought to the public and decision-makers is highlighted.
    • Resilience Strategies for Drought: This fact sheet overviews strategies for areas with a projected increase in drought conditions to become more resilient. It concludes with a community case study that has used a number of these strategies, and a list of tools to help communities evaluate the costs and benefits of resilience strategies.


  • OPR Fire Hazard Planning Technical Advisory: This document offers in-depth guidance aimed at local planners and policymakers for incorporating fire resilience into General Plans. It includes a legislative overview of requirements as well as a step-by-step guide of how to incorporate fire hazard planning into plans, and how to align climate action and LHMPs. Additionally, this document includes a section with example policies that offer model goals, policies, and actions that can be added to a General Plan.
  • The Critical Role of Greenbelts in Wildfire Resilience (Greenbelt Alliance): Through original research and an assessment of case studies, Greenbelt Alliance has identified four types of greenbelts that play a role in reducing the loss of lives and homes in extreme wildfire events while increasing overall resilience in communities and across landscapes
  • MTC Wildfire policy matrix: This is a comprehensive database of wildfire policies compiled by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.


  • Resilient Housing Policies and Programs: Created by MTC, this useful document Example policies and programs for general plan Housing Elements.3wqwq2
  • Explainer on Fair Housing Elements: Centuries of decisions and policies have shaped our cities to be the way they look today, including racial and economic segregation that persists into the 21st century. Check out this explainer with additional links and resources
  • ABAG Housing Element Policies: This is a comprehensive, interactive list of Housing Element Policies sorted by subject matter
  • ABAG Housing Needs Data: Want to know how much housing your city needs to zone for in this Housing Element? Download your cities data here.
  • Housing Element Compliance Fact Sheet: Want to learn more about how and why cities need to comply with housing law?
  • Disability Inclusive Housing – Housing Element Guide: This guide teaches you the basics to a disability-inclusive approach to housing elements that creates better housing for all people.
  • OPRs Site Check: The purpose of Site Check is to accelerate the production of housing by facilitating planning decisions and clarifying where existing streamlining options under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) may apply. Site Check allows users to filter parcels based on specific CEQA provisions or whether the parcels meet certain requirements, like whether they are in an urbanized area, within a certain distance to transit, or covered by a specific plan.

Nature-Based Solutions

  • Strategies for Operationalizing Nature-Based Solutions in the Private Sector: This is a white paper that shows how companies and businesses can advance nature-based solutions.
  • San Mateo Countywide Sustainable Streets Master Plan: This is an initiative developed by the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County (C/CAG) under its San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention Program in collaboration with the State of California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). The Master Plan is a roadmap and set of tools to assist public agencies across the county in planning and implementing sustainable streets projects. This project can serve as an example for other municipalities.
  • Managing Urban Landscapes for Climate Action: This Guide is actually a growing compendium of resources for City Planners who want to learn how to manage their urban lands for climate action in both mitigation/adaptation and achieve resilience/equity goals in their communities.

Managed Retreat