Design Review


The design review process ensures that new or remodeled developments in the City will enhance the City's environment, and that a development will blend in to the style of the area around it.

All professional offices, commercial buildings, multi-family housing units, Planned Unit Developments and Planned Residential Zones are subject to design review. Single Family Dwellings (SFDs) built in Residential Hillside zones require site design review.

During the design review process, your project will be reviewed for site planning, circulation, architectural design, quality and type of materials, colors, and landscaping. The interiors of buildings are not subject to design review.

Who Reviews Developments

The Design Review staff of Planning and Economic Development will review minor projects that are straightforward in nature. The Design Review Board reviews all other projects and all sign programs. Projects reviewed by the staff may be referred to the Design Review Board for policy decisions or appeals of staff decisions.

Concept Review

If you want advice from the Design Review Board at an early stage, you may request concept design review. To do this, submit a completed application form with applicable fees along with the name and location of your project and ten copies of preliminary plans to Planning and Economic Development.

Your item will be placed on the next available agenda of the Design Review Board. The Board meets on the first and third Thursdays of each month. You will be told the meeting date. You or your architect should attend the meeting to present your plans. The Design Review Board's policy is to allow a maximum of fifteen minutes of total discussion for each concept item. The Board will let you know their informal recommendations.

Steps to Obtain Formal Design Review Approval

It is your decision whether you want to receive preliminary and/or final design review. The difference between the two is the amount of information required for each application.

Step 1 - Filing an Application

The first step is to submit an application for either preliminary or final design review to the Planning and Economic Development Department. Required fees are due at the time of submittal. Please see our Forms and Applications page.

As part of the Design Review application process for projects, applicants are also to prepare a Design Concept Narrative.

Please see the Design Review Application guide for details on what your application needs to contain.

The application will be reviewed for completeness within thirty days. You will be notified if the application is found to be incomplete. Incomplete means that either all information required was not submitted or, some of that information was found inadequate. You will be told what information we need to make your application complete.

Step 2 - Environmental Review

Some Design Review applications need a preliminary environmental review by the case planner. The purpose of this review is to find out if the project will cause any adverse environmental impacts. You may be required to submit more information about traffic, noise, etc. After reviewing all the information, the case planner will make an environmental determination. (Please see the Environmental Review for details about the environmental process.)

Staff Approval or Denial

For projects that staff can review and approve, the case planner will send your application to other departments and public agencies for review. The case planner will decide whether to approve, approve with conditions, or deny your project, and will notify you by letter. You or any member of the public may appeal the case planner's decision to the Design Review Board. This appeal must be filed in writing with Economic Development and Planning within ten calendar days from the date of the letter notifying you of staff's action.

Design Review Board Approval or Denial

Applications that require Design Review Board action must take the following steps.

Step 3 - Preliminary Design Review

The case planner will refer your preliminary plans to other City departments for review, and will schedule your project for the next available Design Review Board meeting. You will be notified of the date and time your item is scheduled. You or your architect should attend the meeting to present your project. At the meeting, the Design Review Board may make suggested changes to your project, which must be added to your plans before returning to the Board for final design review.

Step 4 - Final Design Review

After preliminary design review, and once you have met the Board's requests for more information and/or plan changes, your project can go back to the Design Review Board at the next available meeting for final design review. Before the meeting, a staff report will be prepared for the Board. At the final design review, the Board will either approve the project as submitted, approve with conditions, or deny the project and send back for redesign. The Board's decision is final unless appealed.

Appeal Process

You or any member of the public may appeal the Design Review Board's decision to the City Council. This appeal must be filed in writing with the City Clerk within ten calendar days from the date of the Design Review Board's action.

The case planner will forward a written report and recommendation to the City Council. This will include the Design Review Board's comments and action. The City Council meets each Tuesday unless there is a fifth Tuesday. The case planner will present the Design Review Board's action to the City Council. The person appealing the decision will be given a chance to speak as well.

The City Council may refer the matter back to the Design Review Board for further consideration, may reverse, uphold, or modify the decision of the Design Review Board. The City Council's decision is final.