to the San Francisco General Plan
The City and County of San Francisco acknowledges that we are on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone, who are the original inhabitants of the San Francisco Peninsula. As the indigenous stewards of this land and in accordance with their traditions, the Ramaytush Ohlone have never ceded, lost, nor forgotten their responsibilities as the caretakers of this place, as well as for all peoples who reside in their traditional territory. As guests, we recognize that we benefit from living and working on their traditional homeland. We wish to pay our respects by acknowledging the Ancestors, Elders, and Relatives of the Ramaytush Ohlone community and by affirming their sovereign rights as First Peoples.
San Francisco is a place of singular beauty, combining an exquisite natural setting with a unique human-made urban landscape. Human settlement of San Francisco originated with the Ramaytush Ohlone people, who maintained three semi-sedentary villages on the peninsula. The Spanish colonists built on or near those lands when they established the Presidio and the Mission, resulting in the eventual displacement, subjugation, and cultural erasure of these communities. Since then, the City has grown with a density that is unusual on the West Coast. Where other cities flatten their hills or wind streets around them, here the rush to develop created a defiant street grid that accentuates the inclines and introduces dramatic vistas across the bay and deep into the cosmopolitan center. San Francisco’s lively and varied pattern of neighborhoods, commercial centers, and parks has nurtured a remarkable diversity of communities. It has been not only a hub for the Bay Area but a global center of economic energy, technological innovation, and influential political, social, and cultural movements.
Amid this beloved setting lies the inherent, often hidden fragility, including vulnerability to natural disasters and to the mounting consequences of anthropogenic climate change. The city has also been shaped by a history of injustices including segregation, urban renewal, and the inequitable distribution of environmental benefits and burdens. The City’s human scale is justly celebrated for its charm and livability – but the City continues to struggle with housing affordability.
The San Francisco General Plan is the embodiment of the City's vision for the future, serving to guide evolution and growth over time. It provides a comprehensive set of goals, objectives and policies that influence how people live, work, and move about, as well as the quality and spirit of the City. Periodic updates via a public adoption process ensure that this document remains freshly relevant. The General Plan governs actions by all arms of San Francisco’s government. It is implemented by the city’s direction of public resources and guidance of private development.
State law and San Francisco's Charter require a comprehensive, long-term general plan for the physical development of the city. The San Francisco General Plan ensures that there is adequate infrastructure to support residential, commercial, recreational and institutional land uses and facilities, and that neighborhoods are walkable and connected by a robust transportation system geared toward public transit, walking, and biking. Economic growth should position San Francisco for a resilient future sustainably linked to and coordinated with regional development.
The General Plan attempts to navigate complex imperatives between preserving cherished qualities and assets, tackling needed changes, and preparing for both known and unpredictable challenges and crises. In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic and the killing of George Floyd highlighted inequalities, the Planning Commission passed Resolution Number 20738 to center the Planning Department’s work program and resource allocation on racial and social equity. This mandate has been incorporated into the General Plan. In doing so, the City and County of San Francisco acknowledges and apologizes for the history of inequitable planning policies and actions that have resulted in racial disparities. San Francisco must take reparative actions and build accountability in collaboration with American Indian communities, Black communities, communities of color, and other historically marginalized and disenfranchised communities.
Process and Vision
The General Plan’s goals, objectives and policies have been developed with extensive community engagement. These robust conversations and public hearings are designed to distill a shared vision for the City’s future.
In this shared vision, San Francisco strives to be...
...a just city, committed to racial and social equity, starting with recognizing and seeking to rectify past injustices.
…an inclusive city, where all can find a home and community as well a nurturing environment for creativity and self-expression.
...a safe, livable and environmentally sustainable city, where all are able to live healthy lives and access thriving natural systems, restorative parks, and a high-quality built environment. The climate crisis requires urgent local, regional, and global action.
...an economically vital city, where all are able to prosper. Economic vitality is possible only where stable, meaningful livelihoods are protected, entrepreneurial dynamism is fostered within an ecosystem that can withstand geopolitical turbulence and financial volatility, and everyone can access ladders to opportunity.
...a city that recognizes that achieving justice, inclusivity, safety, livability, environmental sustainability and economic vitality requires accountable government, regional cooperation, transparent processes, and incorporation of diverse communities into all aspects of decision making.
The General Plan consists of a series of Elements and Area Plans.
Each Element addresses a topic and generally applies citywide, while Area Plans relate these topics comprehensively to specific parts of the city in a greater level of detail. Several of the Elements correspond to topics that state law requires the General Plan to address, including Air Quality, Community Facilities, Environmental Protection, Housing, Recreation and Open Space, Safety and Resilience, and Transportation. San Francisco has also chosen to address additional topics through Elements including Arts, Commerce and Industry, and Urban Design. Policies related to land use are located throughout the General Plan and are cross-referenced in a Land Use Index.
Environmental Justice policies required by the State have been integrated throughout the General Plan. The Environmental Justice Framework, hereby incorporated into the General Plan by reference, sets out key policy priorities and strategies which will be integrated into elements, area plans, and supporting documents to improve public health and other outcomes in Environmental Justice Communities, which are primarily communities of color and lower-income communities that face higher pollution levels and other health risks.
Area Plans of the San Francisco General Plan include:
- Balboa Park Station
- Bayview Hunters Point
- Candlestick Point Subarea
- Central SoMa (South of Market)
- Central Waterfront
- Civic Center
- East SoMa (South of Market)
- Executive Park Subarea
- Glen Park
- Hunters Point Shipyard
- Market and Octavia
- Northeastern Waterfront
- Rincon Hill
- Showplace Square/Potrero
- Transit Center District Subarea
- Treasure Island/Yerba Buena Island
- Van Ness Avenue
- Western Shoreline
- Western SoMa (South of Market)
Amended by the Board of Supervisors Ordinance No. 0084-23 on 05/09/2023.
Amended by Resolution No.14149 adopted on 06/27/1996.