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Step-By-Step Guide To Planning Your Housing Project

This is a step-by-step guide to planning and understanding the development process of developing a housing project. After these 5 steps, you can move to the construction and inspection step-by-step guide.

Each step provides a description of the step and action items to complete that step.

Step 1: Determine What Types Of Housing Are Allowed

Land uses (the types of activities allowed or prohibited for each property) are easy to determine as long as you are looking in the right place. Visit the Land Information Lookup App, enter the address (or click on the map), and follow the steps below:

1) Find the zoning of your property

2) Find your General Plan Land Use Designation

  • Once you know your zone, find your General Plan designation. Like zoning districts, each property also includes a General Plan designation that determines minimum and maximum densities and floor area ratios (FAR). You can also find your general plan designation on the Land Information Lookup App. Once you find your General Plan designation, refer to the General Plan Land Use and Urban Design Element for density and FAR requirements.

3) Find your Design Review Districts 

  • Properties are also categorized into design review districts that provide guidelines for building placement, design, massing, and other unique architectural features. You can find your design review district in the Land Information Lookup App. Review the design review district documents.

4) Determine if your property is in a Historic District

Step 2: Determine Physical Dimensions

The type and scale of housing on a property is determined by the size of the property and its zoning and general plan designations. This step will help you note important property dimensions that will be useful as you proceed through this step-by-step guide.

  1. Visit Sacramento County Assessor Parcel Viewer to find information about your property.

  2. Determine size of property

  3. Determine property dimensions

  4. Identify any property constraints

Step 3: Determine Development Regulations

There are several development and design regulations that apply to every property. By using the information gathered in Step 1, you can begin to sort through the various development regulations to understand the build-out potential of your property.

  1. Determine type of housing allowed - i.e. single-unit dwelling, duplex (2 units), multi-unit dwellings (3+ units) by visiting the Land Information Lookup App and following the links.

  2. Determine density minimum and maximums. If your housing project is mixed-use, utilize Floor Area Ratio (FAR) instead.

  3. Determine Floor Area Ratio (FAR) minimum and maximum (if required).

  4. Determine setback standards

  5. Determine maximum height

  6. Determine maximum lot coverage

  7. Determine parking requirements

  8. Determine design guidelines

  9. Other applicable requirements


Step 4: Planning Application Submittal

Once you have completed steps 1 through 3 you are almost ready to submit a planning application. It is highly recommended that you speak with a planner before submitting your project to verify your zoning analysis and ensure you have everything you need before submitting an application.

  1. Schedule a pre-application meeting by contacting (highly recommended for larger projects).

  2. Determine appropriate Planning Application and complete accordingly.

    Find a list of Planning Application forms.

  3. Submit completed Planning Application and pay review fees.

    Learn how to submit your application online.

  4. Once you have summitted a complete Planning Application, you will be assigned a project planner. Review with assigned project planner and determine approval process.

  5. Receive decision on planning application.