Our Plan


The City of South San Francisco embarked on a comprehensive update to the SSF General Plan, titled “Shape SSF 2040.” Shape SSF 2040 is a forward-looking blueprint for the city’s vision through the year 2040. The goals, policies, and actions in Shape SSF 2040 serve as a compass for decision-makers and shape future plans, ordinances, and initiatives of the City.

The South San Francisco 2040 General Plan informs and is implemented by the City’s various ordinances, specific plans, programs, and ongoing activities. It sets overall City policy and priorities for how to use and manage its physical, social, and economic resources. Developed through an extensive public involvement process, and through analysis and review by community advisory boards and commissions, City staff, and elected officials, it documents a shared vision for the future and sets the policies and programs to achieve that vision.

Community members watching a presentation at sub-area meeting

The General Plan also informs community members of the ground rules that guide physical and social development within our community.

Residents: South San Francisco residents use the General Plan to understand the community vision regarding how, when, and where the city should develop and change as a place to live, to work, and to invest.

Business Owners: Businesses use the General Plan to understand economic development priorities and available resources.

Developers: Developers use the General Plan to understand the City’s development needs, preferences, and physical parameters.

Statutory Requirements

A General Plan is a city policy document required by State law (Government Code Section 65300-65303.4) that provides a “long term, comprehensive, integrated, internally consistent and compatible statement” of goals and policies that reflect local conditions and community vision. Within this general requirement, some aspects of the general plan are tightly prescribed, while others are left to the discretion of individual cities or counties. State law also allows for the inclusion of optional “elements” and organization of the elements to “accommodate local conditions and circumstances” (Gov’t Code § 65300.7), subject to the City’s discretion. This General Plan addresses the following additional topics: community design; mobility; parks; community health; resilience; community services; economic development; and climate protection.

People writing on sticky notes while looking at a poster at sub-area meeting
Close-up of two town homes

In sum, the general plan

Must set forth a “statement of development policies” that includes “objectives, principles, standards, and plan proposals,” and must include eight mandatory elements – land use, circulation, housing, conservation, environmental justice, open space, noise, and safety – as well as any optional elements the City chooses. (Gov’t Code § 65302).

Must be an “internally consistent and compatible statements of policies.” (Gov’t Code § 65300.5).

“. . . may include any other subjects which, in the judgment of the legislative body, relate to the physical development of the county or city.” (Gov’t Code
§ 65303).

Developers: Developers use the General Plan to understand the City’s development needs, preferences, and physical parameters.

“. . .may be adopted in any format deemed appropriate or convenient by the legislative body, including the combining of elements,” provided it meets other minimum requirements (Gov’t Code § 65301).

Should “accommodate local conditions and circumstances” (Gov’t Code § 65300.7)


The General Plan process is made up of five stages that began in 2019 and ended in 2022. The process is incremental in that each phase informs the work done within the following stage.

Existing Conditions

Summer, 2019

In this initial phase of the planning process, the General Plan Update team assessed the current conditions and policies of South San Francisco to gain a greater understanding of the city’s key issues, community assets, and future opportunities and trends.

Listening and Visioning

Spring 2019–Spring 2020

Community input through workshops, stakeholder interviews, and focus groups lead the development of a long-term Vision, Core Values, and Guiding Principles for the General Plan. All the policies and programs within the General Plan are guided by these three features.


Summer–Fall 2020

In this stage, different land use and transportation development alternatives were created for the community to assess the trade-offs between different future growth patterns in South San Francisco and to identify which alternative best meets the community’s Vision. Through a series of community meetings evaluating three alternatives, the planning team finalized a preferred alternative in November 2020. This process also informed the development of the Final Preferred Land Use Plan.

Policy Development

Fall 2020–Fall 2021

Goals, policies, and implementation actions for all chapters of the General Plan were developed by the planning team and presented as Policy Frameworks. These Policy Frameworks were introduced through ten virtual meetings and short videos and were then posted on the project website to gather public feedback that shape the development of the final version of these policies, goals, and actions.

Review + Adopt

Winter 2021–Summer 2022

The last stage of the planning process includes the publishing of the Public Review draft of the General Plan for City Council, Planning Commission, and community review. Additionally, an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is prepared and published to evaluate the potential impact of the General Plan. This phase also includes preparing and publishing updates to the City’s Zoning Code and revising the City’s Climate Action Plan. Once all these documents are reviewed and adopted, the final South San Francisco General Plan is released!