Chapter 18.29


18.29.010    Purpose.

18.29.020    Applicability.

18.29.030    Assignment of design review responsibilities.

18.29.040    Procedures—Design guidelines.

18.29.050    Scope of design review.

18.29.060    Design review criteria.

18.29.070    Required findings.

18.29.080    Conditions of approval.

18.29.090    Appeals—Expiration, extensions, and modifications.

18.29.010 Purpose.

This chapter establishes the design review procedure to ensure that new development supports the General Plan’s goal of creating a vibrant pedestrian- and transit-oriented core and distinctive neighborhoods and districts with a diversity of building types that provide continuity in scale and character with appropriate transitions, where needed. The specific purposes of the design review process are to:

A.    Promote excellence in site planning and design and the harmonious appearance of buildings and sites;

B.    Ensure that new and modified uses and development will be compatible with the existing and potential development of the surrounding area; and

C.    Supplement other City regulations and standards in order to ensure control of aspects of design that are not otherwise addressed. (Ord. 1537 (Exh. D (part)), 2018: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.29.020 Applicability.

Design review is required for all projects that require a permit for new construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, alteration, or other improvements to the exterior of a structure, site, or a parking area except for:

A.    Construction, reconstruction, alterations, improvements, and landscaping for a project developed in compliance with a previous design review approval; and

B.    Additions of floor area within an existing building envelope. (Ord. 1537 (Exh. D (part)), 2018: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.29.030 Assignment of design review responsibilities.

A.    Residential Design Review Committee. The Residential Design Review Committee shall conduct design review of any residential improvement in the RS districts that:

1.    Results in more than three thousand square feet of floor area (including garages) and meets or exceeds the FAR thresholds identified in Table 18.29.030-A(1); and


Average Cross-Slope of Project (Percent)

Floor Area Ratio









2.    Does not require and is not a part of a project that requires approval of a use permit, variance, or other discretionary approval by the Planning Commission.

B.    Planning Commission. The Planning Commission shall have design review authority for all projects requiring Planning Commission approval (such as conditional use permits and variances).

C.    Director.

1.    The Director shall have design review authority for all projects that do not meet one or more of the criteria listed in subsection A of this section for a decision by the Residential Design Review Committee or subsection B of this section for a decision by the Planning Commission, including outdoor dining and outdoor retail sales pursuant to Sections 18.23.140 and 18.23.150.

2.    The Director may refer items directly to the Planning Commission or Residential Design Review Committee when in his/her opinion the public interest would be better served by having the Planning Commission or Residential Design Review Committee conduct design review. (Ord. 1537 (Exh. D (part)), 2018: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.29.040 Procedures—Design guidelines.

A.    Forms and Fees. Written applications for design review applications shall be submitted to the Planning Division in compliance with the application procedures in Chapter 18.27, Common Procedures.

B.    Design Guidelines. Design guidelines adopted by the City Council provide recommendations to be used in the design review process. They are intended to promote high-quality design, well-crafted and maintained buildings and landscaping, the use of high-quality building materials, and attention to the design and execution of building details and amenities in both public and private projects.

C.    Concurrent Processing. When a development project requires a use permit, variance, or any other discretionary approval, the design review application shall be submitted to the Planning Division as a part of the application for the underlying permit, use permit, or variance.

D.    Peer Review. At the sole discretion of the Director, a project may be referred to an architect or design professional retained by the City to provide independent peer review of architectural plans and specifications, landscape plans, and related documents for consistency with the purposes of this section, the General Plan, adopted design guidelines, and the findings required in Section 18.29.070, Required findings. The applicant shall pay the reasonable actual cost and a reasonable administrative fee for hiring an approved architect or design professional to provide peer review.

E.    Public Notice.

1.    All applications for design review subject to review by the Residential Design Review Committee shall provide notice of the proposed action and shall be posted in the Planning Division and mailed to all property owners of record within a minimum three hundred (300) foot radius of the subject property as shown on the latest available assessment roll at least ten (10) days prior to the date of action. The notice shall include the date, time, and location of the public hearing, a general description of the subject of the application, the location of the property, the date of the decision, the procedure for submitting comments, and the procedure for appealing the decision. In addition, all applicants with projects subject to review by the Residential Design Review Committee shall be required to provide and place signage on the project site and located in the front yard and visible from the street. Such signage shall be placed on site at least ten (10) days prior to the date of action and contain the same required contents of the mailed notice and using the template provided by the Planning Division.

2.    All applications for design review subject to review by the Planning Commission shall require public notice and hearing before the Planning Commission pursuant to Chapter 18.27, Common Procedures.

F.    Alterations to Drawings. If alterations to the approved drawings are desired by the applicant, the drawings shall be resubmitted and processed according to the procedures established for approval of the original drawings.

G.    Private Architectural Review. Where deed restrictions or private property covenants, codes, and restrictions require review by a private architectural board, committee, or homeowners’ association, the review shall be accomplished by the applicant and the findings of the board or committee shall be transmitted in writing to the City prior to City action. Application to the board and transmission of its findings shall be the responsibility of the applicant, not the City. Conditions or requirements imposed pursuant to private covenants, restrictions, and regulations are not binding upon or enforced by the City unless approved by the City pursuant to the requirements of this chapter. (Ord. 1574 § 4 (Exh. A), 2021; Ord. 1537 (Exh. D (part)), 2018: Ord. 1443 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2012; Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.29.050 Scope of design review.

Design review shall be based on consideration of the requirements of this chapter as they apply to the design of the site plan, structures, landscaping, and other physical features of a proposed project, including:

A.    Building proportions, massing, and architectural details;

B.    Site design, orientation, location, and architectural design of buildings relative to existing structures on or adjacent to the property, topography, and other physical features of the natural and built environment;

C.    Size, location, design, development, and arrangement of on-site parking and other paved areas;

D.    Exterior materials and, except in the case of design review of a single-family residence, color as they relate to each other, to the overall appearance of the project, and to surrounding development;

E.    Height, materials, design, and, except in the case of design review of a single-family residence, color of fences, walls, and screen plantings;

F.    Location and type of landscaping including selection and size of plant materials, design of hardscape, and irrigation; and

G.    Size, location, design, color, lighting, and materials of all signs. (Ord. 1537 (Exh. D (part)), 2018: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.29.060 Design review criteria.

When conducting design review, the Residential Design Review Committee, Director, Planning Commission, or City Council shall evaluate applications to ensure that they satisfy the following criteria, conform to the policies of the General Plan and any applicable specific plan, the City’s design guidelines, and are consistent with any other policies or guidelines the City Council may adopt for this purpose. To obtain design review approval, projects must satisfy these criteria to the extent they apply.

A.    The overall design of the project including its scale, massing, site plan, exterior design, and landscaping will enhance the appearance and features of the project site and surrounding natural and built environment.

B.    The project design is appropriate to the function of the project and will provide an attractive and comfortable environment for occupants, visitors, and the general community.

C.    Project details, materials, signage and landscaping are internally consistent, fully integrated with one another, and used in a manner that is visually consistent with the proposed architectural design.

D.    The project has been designed to be compatible with neighboring development by avoiding big differences in building scale and character between developments on adjoining lots in the same zoning district and providing a harmonious transition in scale and character between different districts.

E.    The project contributes to the creation of an attractive and visually interesting built environment that includes a variety of building styles and designs with well-articulated structures that present varied building facades, roof lines, and building heights within a unifying context that encourages increased pedestrian activity and promotes compatibility among neighboring land uses within the same or different districts.

F.    The design of streetscapes, including street trees, lighting, and pedestrian furniture, is consistent with the character of activity centers, commercial districts and nearby residential neighborhoods.

G.    The proposed design is compatible with the historical or visual character of any area recognized by the City as having such unified character.

H.    The project design preserves major public views and vistas from major public streets and open spaces and enhances them by providing areas to stroll, benches to rest and enjoy views, and similar amenities.

I.    Parking areas are designed and developed to buffer surrounding land uses; complement pedestrian-oriented development; enhance the environmental quality of the site, including minimizing stormwater run-off and the heat-island effect; and achieve a safe, efficient, and harmonious development.

J.    Lighting and lighting fixtures are designed to complement buildings, be of appropriate scale, provide adequate light over walkways and parking areas to create a sense of pedestrian safety, and avoid creating glare.

K.    The proposed building design and landscaping supports public safety and security by allowing for surveillance of the street by people inside buildings and elsewhere on the site.

L.    Landscaping is designed to be compatible with and enhance the architectural character and features of the buildings on site, and help relate the building to the surrounding landscape. Proposed planting materials avoid conflicts with views, lighting, infrastructure, utilities, and signage. (Ord. 1537 (Exh. D (part)), 2018: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.29.070 Required findings.

The Director, Residential Design Review Committee, Planning Commission, or City Council may only approve a design review application if it finds that the application is consistent with the purposes of this chapter and with the following:

A.    The applicable standards and requirements of this title;

B.    The General Plan and any applicable specific plans the City Council has adopted;

C.    Any applicable design guidelines adopted by the City Council;

D.    Any approved tentative map, use permit, variance, or other planning or zoning approval that the project required; and

E.    The applicable design review criteria in Section 18.29.060, Design review criteria. (Ord. 1537 (Exh. D (part)), 2018: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.29.080 Conditions of approval.

In granting design review approval, the Director, Residential Design Review Committee, Planning Commission, or City Council may impose conditions that are reasonably related to the application and deemed necessary to achieve the purposes of this chapter and ensure compliance with the applicable criteria and standards established by this title. They may not impose requirements pertaining to use or that are more restrictive than the standards set forth in this title or a valid use permit or variance if such conditions would require a reduction in the residential density or the floor area ratio (FAR) of a proposed project. (Ord. 1537 (Exh. D (part)), 2018: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)

18.29.090 Appeals—Expiration, extensions, and modifications.

A.    Appeals. Design review decisions are subject to the appeal provisions of Section 18.27.150, Appeals.

B.    Expiration, Extensions and Modifications. Design review approval is effective and may only be extended or modified as provided for in Chapter 18.27, Common Procedures. (Ord. 1537 (Exh. D (part)), 2018: Ord. 1438 § 4 (Exh. A (part)), 2011)