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Design Review

What is a Design Review?

The City of Pleasanton's Design Review process is intended to preserve and enhance the city's aesthetic values, as well as the public health, safety, and general welfare. The City promotes the construction of structures in proper relationship to their site and the surrounding area through originality in site planning, architecture, landscaping, and design. Design Review was established to review new structures, including exterior alterations and enlargements to existing buildings. The elements considered during the design review process include exterior architecture, materials, textures, colors, landscaping, parking, and illumination. The concurrent review of signage is encouraged at the time of design review to ensure compatibility of building or site signs with architecture and other features of the project. If any signage is proposed, the location, design, and details of the sign(s) should be clearly shown in the appropriate scale on the required exhibits.

Prior to the submittal of a formal application for design review, the Planning Department strongly encourages you to submit a no-fee preliminary, conceptual plan for staff review and comment.
Information Required

Site Plan Drawings

Colored Elevation Drawings

Elevation Drawings

Grading Plan

Landscape Plan

Floor Plan

Application + Fee ($50)

Environmental Questionnaire (if applicable) Property Owner Signature Photographs/Color Board

A total of nineteen (19) complete sets of exhibits are required to accompany the application materials. Additional copies may be required for projects subject to Planning Commission Review. At least three (3) sets must be submitted on 18" x 24" or 24" x 36" standard, full sized sheets, while the remaining copies may be reduced to 11" x 17" size. Plans should include a graphic bar scale so that dimensions on reduced copies may be determined. Plans must be legible and folded to fit an 8½" x 11" file folder in order to be accepted.

Site Plan Drawing - Plans should clearly indicate the location and dimensions of all existing and proposed structures, landscaping, driveways, streets, street medians/median openings, parking, easements, wells, and other improvements. Plans should include the size of the subject property, setback dimensions from proposed structures to property lines, exterior property lines with bearings and distances (note source), tract and lot numbers, north arrow, scale, vicinity map, and the name, address, and telephone number of the property owner, developer, engineer, architect, and designer.

Elevation Drawings - Plans should show all relevant details of the proposed construction, including: dimensions, materials, colors, and any other special characteristics or architectural features of the project. The plans must show ad-mounted electrical transformers, above-ground backflow prevention valves, trash enclosures, and screening methods for both ground-mounted and roof-mounted mechanical equipment.

Grading Plan Drawing - Plans should show existing and new contour lines, spot elevations for proposed improvements, amounts of all cuts and fills, building pad elevations, finished floor elevations, retaining walls (height and materials), and direction of drainage. Plans for hillside development should include cross-sections showing the relationship of the building to the grade.

Landscape Plan Drawing - Plans should contain types, numbers, and sizes of all proposed plants. Symbols should be used to designate each type ofplant material and its location. Plans should also include the location, size, and species of existing trees and landscaping, noting that they are to remain or be removed. A tree report may be required if heritage trees are located on the site.

Floor Plan - An exhibit which shows all relevant details of the proposed construction, including: dimensions, walls, windows, doors, use of each existing and proposed room (e.g., kitchen, bedroom, office, etc.)

Application + Fee ($50) - A complete application form and $50.00 fee is required.

Environmental Questionnaire (if applicable) - Depending on the size andnature of the project proposed, your project may be subject to the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). A planner will determine whether the initial environmental assessment form and fees are required to accompany your application.

Property Owner Signature or Letter of Authorization - Property owner must sign the application form or provide a written letter of authorization prior to review of the application. On the application form, please clearly state the purpose/function of the project, unique characteristics of the proposal, the size of the structure(s), etc.

Photographs and Material/Color Board - Not required but strongly ncouraged.

The Application Process


Staff Analysis

The Planning Department encourages the submittal of no-fee, preliminary applications. This process enables the applicant to obtain early feedback from the Planning Department. Upon formal application submittal, the project will be reviewed at the first available Planning Department staff meeting, which generally occurs weekly on Monday mornings. The project will be analyzed for conformance with City Standards and a determination will be made as to whether the project will be reviewed administratively or formally by the Planning Commission. Developments which are large in size and scope, such as new shopping centers or office buildings, are subject to Planning Commission review and approval. Smaller projects, such as custom single family homes or building expansions, may be approved by staff. Projects which are considered highly visible or in sensitive locations will be reviewed by the City's architectural consultant; the applicant is required to pay the cost of these architectural services.

The application will be assigned to a staff planner who will contact you to report the status of the project and to obtain additional information if necessary. The planner will check for conformity with required building setbacks, parking requirements, landscaping standards, requirements for urban clean water runoff, site access, provisions for extension of utilities and services, and other similar issues. The proposed construction and use will be examined for aesthetic impacts and any potential effects on neighboring properties. It is possible that changes or modifications to your project may be suggested.

Zoning Administrator Actions

Applications processed administratively are acted upon by the Zoning Administrator generally about four weeks after the application is submitted. You will be notified of the Zoning Administrator's decision and any conditions that are attached to an approval by letter. The decision becomes effective 15 days after the Zoning Administrator's action, as long as the project is not appealed (see "Appeal Period").

Planning Commission Actions

Applications which are not processed administratively will be scheduled for a public hearing before the Planning Commission. In compliance with state law, all property owners within at least a 300 foot radius of the proposed project site will be notified by mail of the application and the date, time, and location of the public hearing. The planner will write a detailed staff report for review by the Planning Commission. This report will contain staff's analysis of the case and a recommendation for action. The recommendation can be to approve, deny, or approve with conditions. The applicant will be provided with a copy of the report with an agenda for the meeting prior to the public hearing. At the hearing the actual decision concerning your application will be made. The Planning Commission is the decision-making body and will consider the information in the staff report and any testimony given at the hearing. It is strongly recommended that you attend the hearing to represent your application and to answer any questions the Commission may have. You will be informed in writing of the decision of the Planning Commission and of any conditions that were attached to an approval.

Appeal Period

The Zoning Administrator's or Planning Commission's decision becomes effective 15 days after the ruling. During this time you or any concerned party may appeal a decision of the Zoning Administrator to the Planning Commission or a decision of the Planning Commission to the City Council by submitting a written request and an appeal fee (equal to 25% of the original application fee) to the Planning Department. An appeal will be scheduled for the first available Planning Commission or City Council meeting. If an appeal is heard by the Planning Commission, the Commission's decision may be further appealed to the City Council.

Project Approval

The decision of the City Council (or Planning Commission, if not appealed further) will be final. If your case is approved and no appeal is filed following the public meeting, your approval becomes effective fifteen days from the date of the decision and you may proceed with your project as directed by the approving body. Design review approval is valid for a period of one year from the date of approval, after which the approval lapses if building permits for the project have not yet been obtained. An extension of one year may be approved by the Zoning Administrator prior to the expiration date.
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