General Plan Update

General Plan 2050

The City of Watsonville is embarking on a multi-year effort to update our General Plan with the goal of building upon the city’s “great bones.” Some of our top priorities are expanding the city’s multi-modal network to become more accessible to all residents, increasing affordable housing options and employment opportunities for Watsonville’s diverse community, and revitalizing the city’s historic downtown. This is a collaborative process – meaning your input, your feedback and your vision are essential to the success of this General Plan Update. We look forward working alongside the Watsonville community to propel our city into a new era!

What is a General Plan? 

A General Plan is a high-level, long-range planning document that guides a city’s future growth and development. In California, state law requires every city and county to have a General Plan. It needs to be updated periodically to reflect the current and near future needs of the community as well as account for shifts in industry and population growth. The Watsonville General Plan Update will address the following key topics, sometimes referred to as “elements”: 

  • Land Use & Community Design 
  • Transportation, Connectivity & Access 
  • Public Services & Infrastructure 
  • Airport Land Use 
  • Safety/Public Hazards 
  • Environmental Resource Management 
  • Housing 
  • Economic Development 
  • Climate Action & Adaptation 
  • Environmental Justice 
  • Recreation, Parks & Open Space 
  • Historic Resources   

What is a Housing Element? 

With affordable housing a statewide priority, Housing Elements have been a mandatory part of General Plan development since 1969. Because of its critical importance, a city’s Housing Element must be updated every five years. According to state law, a Housing Element must: 

  • Include goals, policies, objectives and scheduled programs to preserve, improve and develop housing. 
  • Analyze the existing and projected housing needs for all economic segments of the community. 
  • Identify city land that can be zoned and available for development during the housing cycle to meet regional housing needs at all income levels.
  • Be consistent with other parts of the General Plan or General Plan Update.  


Updating a city’s General Plan is a lengthy process – it usually takes around three years to complete from start to finish. An Update is typically divided into six phases with community engagement conducted throughout the process.

Public Engagement Events 

  • Upcoming events: 
    • Virtual Workshop (open to the public) - April 19, 2023, 5:30-7:30 PM.
  • Past events:
    • Community Advisory Committee Meeting (open to the public) - March 29, 2023, 5:30-7:30 PM, Library Community Meeting Room (agenda, draft engagement handout, presentation slides). The objectives of this meeting were to:
      • Initiate the Community Advisory Committee for the General Plan Update. 
      • Discuss the roles and responsibilities of the Community Advisory Committee. 
      • Provide an overview of the General Plan Update process. 
      • Discuss key issues and opportunities in Watsonville. 
      • Revisit the guiding principles for the VISTA 2030 General Plan (see section 1.1).