Close Panel
Click for weather info76°F

Residential Multi-Unit Objective Design Standards

In 2017, the Governor signed multiple housing bills, including Senate Bill (SB) 35 Streamline Approval Process and Assembly Bill (AB) 678/SB 167 Strengthen the Housing Accountability Act. In response to this new legislation, the City is proposing to amend applicable Municipal Code regulations and create objective aesthetic design standards for multi-unit housing projects for compliance with these 2017 statutes. 

SB 35 added Section 65913.4 to the Government Code providing for a streamlined, ministerial approval process for multi-unit residential development in localities that have not met their Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) targets for any given year, subject to certain conditions and consistent with objective planning (zoning and design review) standards in effect at the time the development application is submitted for approval. Because the City has made insufficient progress towards the Above Moderate income category, multi-unit infill residential projects meeting certain criteria may currently request a streamlined ministerial approval process.

The amendments to the Housing Accountability Act increase the documentation necessary and standard of proof required to defend the denial or reduction of residential density of a housing project when the proposed project complies with applicable, objective standards, including standards for aesthetic design. 

The City currently relies on its discretionary review process to maintain the community’s aesthetic standards for multi-unit residential development. Going forward, certain projects may be eligible for streamlined ministerial approval. Consequently, the City is preparing multi-unit residential objective design review standards in consultation with the Architectural Board of Review (ABR), Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC), the Planning Commission, and other stakeholders to comply with state law while continuing the City’s legacy of high quality, cohesive architectural design. 

Project Timeline


Initiate Project and Conduct Research

Winter 2018

Informational Presentations at ABR and HLC Meetings

February 2019

Draft Municipal Code and Design Guidelines Amendments
Spring/Winter 2020

ABR and HLC Review and Comment
Spring 2020

Planning Commission, Ordinance Committee and City Council Review and Adoption

Summer 2020


Draft Documents

Staff will accept public comment on the draft Objective Design Standards through June 7, 2020 to be considered for future amendments.

To review the draft Objective Design Standards, click here.

Submit comments via email to Rosie Dyste, Project Planner,

State Legislation

Please refer to Government Code Section 65913.4 for more information about the streamlined, ministerial approval process for multi-unit residential development

Please refer to Government Code Section 65589.5 for more information about the Housing Accountability Act

Please refer to HCD’s 2017 Housing Package Bills Summary for information about the 2017 Legislative Housing Package


Meetings will be held electronically. For the times of these meetings, or to download the staff report and exhibits, click on the Public Meetings webpage link  here.

Upcoming Meetings

None scheduled at this time.

Project Contact

Rosie Dyste, Project Planner
(805) 564-5470 ext 4599


Click here for information on Public Meetings

The draft Objective Design Standards for Processing of Streamlined Housing Projects is available here for public reviewPlease note that this document was updated since it was originally posted in March 2020. Please submit comments by June 7, 2020 to

Last Updated: May 26, 2020
Top of Page