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Streamlining the Planning Process:  Planning and Design Commission Ad Hoc Subcommittee Title 17 Amendments 

What the Ordinance does: 

The proposed amendments to Title 17 of the City Code will reduce total entitlement processing time and application costs for projects that are compatibly zoned and meet all the development standards and design guidelines. The amendments include:

  • Changes to the Site Plan and Design Review process, including eliminating automatic triggers for Commission level projects and allowing all deviations to be heard at the Director level;
  • Allowing all tentative maps to be heard at the Director level;
  • Delegating approval authority for some Conditional Use Permit (CUP) entitlements to the Director level (Zoning Administrator, Design Director, Preservation Director);
  • Eliminating some CUP requirements in commercial and mixed-use zones.

Frequently Asked Questions

Picture of a Development Proposal Sign

1. How will this ordinance impact public input?

All planning projects will be routed via email to neighborhood groups within 300-feet of the project site and will include a link to Development Tracker. Routings occur within 1-week after submitting a complete application to the City. Comments can be emailed to the project planner and are encouraged within the first 30-days of routing. All comments will be shared with the applicant, city staff, and the Design Advisory Committee (DAC) for careful consideration.

The City has recently purchased new “real-estate-style” signs to be installed on the project’s site soon after the project is routed. This will increase awareness to surrounding neighbors who may not be active in their local neighborhood group. The sign will include contact information for both the planner and applicant and will include a recommended deadline to submit comments.

All projects requiring a public hearing (Director, Planning and Design Commission, Preservation Commission, and City Council) require notification by mail 10-days before the hearing to all property owners within 300-feet of the project site. To increase participation at public hearings, staff is now also mailing public hearing notices to all occupants/renters who are within 300-feet of a project site. A copy of the public hearing notice will also be posted on the new “real-estate-style” sign.

2. How will this ordinance impact the City’s Historic Districts?

The Ad Hoc Ordinance does not change the review requirements for landmark properties. The Historic District Plans, recently adopted by City Council on December 10, 2019, allows new development to be reviewed at the staff level if they met all development and design standards. Projects that require a deviation to a city development standard (i.e. setback or height) will be required to go to a Director level public hearing.

3. How will this ordinance impact appeals or decisions made by the City Council?

Decisions made at the Director or Planning and Design Commission hearing is subject to a 10-day appeal period. If the decision is made at the Director level, the decision is appealable to the Planning and Design Commission for a final decision. If the decision is made at the Planning and Design Commission, the decision is appealable to the City Council for final decision. Preservation Director decisions are appealable to the Preservation Commission.

The City Council will continue to make final decisions on many entitlements, including rezones, General Plan amendments, new Planned Unit Developments (PUD), and development agreements. The Council will also continue to make final decisions on planning’s policy documents, such as specific plans, special planning districts, ordinances (changes to City Code), general plans, etc.

4. How will this ordinance impact the design review process?

The City will create a Design Advisory Committee (DAC) comprised of local licensed architects and landscape architects who will be utilized to inform design on new projects. The community’s comments will be shared with the DAC for consideration. A summary of the DAC’s comments will be included in the report prepared for each project.

Below is a flow chart of the planning project process. Steps 1 – 5 are required for all new applications for development. Projects that require a public hearing must go through Steps 6 – 8. Click on the image to enlarge the photo.

Picture of Planning Project Flowchart

Project Schedule

October 10, 2019 – Community Outreach Meeting, New City Hall, 915 I Street, Room 1119 at 9 a.m.
October 16, 2019 – Preservation Commission
February 13, 2020 – Planning and Design Commission
April 23, 2020 – Planning and Design Commission
April 26, 2020 – Law and Legislation Committee
May 12, 2020 – City Council public hearing 5 p.m. (online)- watch live here at time of hearing

*All public hearing dates are subject to change so it is recommended that you confirm the date prior to attending.

Background Information

In January 2019, the City of Sacramento’s Planning and Design Commission (PDC) formed a subcommittee to discuss changes to the structure and procedures of the Commission in order to streamline quality development in commercial corridors, adjacent to transit, and to encourage smart, sustainable, and equitable growth.
The subcommittee identified the following priority objectives to guide their recommendations:


  1. Streamline the entitlement process for projects that comply with City Code and design requirements;

  2. Provide enhanced architectural input to developers early in the planning process;

  3. Improve neighborhood outreach and access to the public planning process.

Informational Documents

Environmental Document

Draft Ordinance

View which CUPs will be changed:  Chart of Land Uses to Zone

Questions? Please contact Garrett Norman, Associate Planner at