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Single-Family Objective Design Standards San Carlos CA

City Council Meetings 2023 – Objective Design Standards ODS

October 23, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Objective Design Standards ODS

Meeting agendas, staff reports, and Zoom links, are posted usually after 5 PM at https://www.cityofsancarlos.org/agenda.

We encourage you to attend this upcoming City Council meeting and share your opinion. Your active participation contributes to important discussions that shape the City’s progress.

Please feel free to send comments or questions to the Project Manager, Senior Planner Rucha Dande, at rdande@cityofsancarlos.org.
Learn more about the project at https://www.cityofsancarlos.org/designstandards.

A blog about the issue from Mark Martinho, host of San Carlos Life.

Coming Soon – Objective Design Standards for San Carlos CA. A Better System!

The City of San Carlos invites the community to join in preparing Objective Design Standards (ODS) for future residential development.

The City is creating Objective Design Standards for:

  1. Single-family residences include primary residences, accessory dwelling units, and urban infill units (SB-9 Units). Status: These standards have been drafted and are ready for City Council consideration. Staff will be presenting the final draft of Single-Family ODS to the City Council on Monday, October 23*, 2023, for the first reading of the ordinance and potential adoption. Upcoming meeting details are below.
  2. Mixed-Use & Multi-Family Buildings. Status: The City is in the early phases of drafting these standards. Staff will be presenting draft recommendations for mixed-use and multi-family development types during a Study Session with the Planning and Transportation Commission on November 6, 2023. Upcoming meeting details are below.

How can I get involved?

We have a number of ways for you to share your input. We encourage you to get involved and share your thoughts! Here’s how:

Share your Input by Attending these Upcoming Meetings

1. October 23*, 2023, City Council Meeting:
 Staff will be presenting the final draft of Single-Family ODS to the City Council on Monday, October 23, 2023, to introduce an ordinance for potential adoption. The staff report and attachments will be available starting October 19, 2023, after 5:00 p.m. and can be viewed here: Click here to view Staff Report and Attachments.

The Single-Family Objective Design Standards (ODS) have been thoroughly evaluated by City Staff in July-August 2023, taking into consideration the recommendations provided by the Planning and Transportation Commission on zero lot lines, Urban Infill Units (SB-9 Units), and flag lots during their June 19, 2023 Planning and Transportation Commission meeting.
*Note: This item is rescheduled to October 23, 2023, from October 9, 2023, City Council Meeting

2. November 6, 2023, Planning and Transportation Commission Study Session: Staff will be presenting draft recommendations for mixed-use and multi-family development types during a Study Session with the Planning and Transportation Commission on Monday, November 6, 2023. Please stay tuned for updates regarding the staff report and attachments.

Share your Input on Mixed-use/Multi-Family ODS: We want your input to create attractive, engaging designs for new mixed-use and multi-family development in San Carlos. We especially want your input on questions about massing and articulation, site design, street-facing building design, and landscaping.


Project Background

What are Objective Design Standards?

State law defines objective standards as those that “involve no personal or subjective judgment by a public official and are uniformly verifiable by reference to an external and uniform benchmark or criterion available and knowable by both the development applicant and public official before submittal.”

In contrast, subjective standards require interpretation by City staff or discretionary boards. For example, a requirement for a 40-square-foot front entryway is an objective standard, while a “welcoming front entry” requirement is subject to interpretation. An objective standard like “building exteriors shall utilize at least two different colors” could replace a current subjective requirement such as “every building shall have complementary colors which demonstrate a harmonious relationship.”

Why should we create Objective Design Standards?

State Legislation
The State of California has adopted legislation requiring cities to approve certain housing proposals through ministerial, or “over-the-counter,” processes based on objective standards. The result of these laws is to encourage cities to create quicker, more accessible pathways for housing to be built.

Clear Expectations
For residents, property owners, and developers, objective standards provide clear expectations of the types of design, density standards, and massing to be expected in San Carlos neighborhoods. The Objective Design Standards will build off of existing guidelines and community input, and will also provide clear language and graphic illustrations for developments to follow.

Quicker Processing Times
The standards would communicate expectations to applicants, and if an eligible project applicant complies with the standards (as well as all other related requirements), approval could be through a staff-level administrative process with no public review or hearing. This eliminates barriers to residential permitting by reducing application timelines and clarifies what will be required from the beginning of the design phase.

Past Meetings and Community Input

This section provides an overview of the City’s past engagement and outreach on Objective Design Standards for Single-Family Development and Mixed-Use / Multi-Family Development. Thank you to everyone who has participated in this process and provided us with your input.

June 19, 2023, Planning & Transportation Commission Recommendation to City Council

On Monday, June 19, 2023, at 7:00 PM the City Hall – Planning and Transportation Commission Meeting reviewed the final draft ODS for Single-Family development. During this meeting, the Commission recommended the City Council adopt Objective Design Standards for single-family development and directed staff to study zero lot line standards for small lot subdivisions and Urban Infill Units. Additionally, the PTC also recommended the City Council direct staff to study flag lots for Urban Infill Units.

Click here for the Presentation/Meeting Video and Staff Report

May 3, 2023, Planning & Transportation Commission Study Session #2 on Single-Family ODS

Click here for the Staff Report, and Meeting Video

April 26, 2023, Community Workshop on Mixed Use / Multi-Family ODS

Topics for discussion included: Exploring opportunities to create effective transitions between multifamily/mixed-use buildings and single-family zoning districts, the importance of green space and landscaping to improve street presence, and the massing and articulation of these development types.

Click here for the Presentation & Recording

March 20, 2023, Planning and Transportation Commission Study Session #1 for Single-Family ODS

Topic: Draft standards for single-family ODS. Click below for:

Preliminary Draft Single-Family Development Standards
Study Session Summary
Staff Report & Meeting Recording

Community Survey (open January – March 2023)

The community was invited to participate in a survey to share input on the Objective Design Standards. The City received responses from over 420 participants. Click here to view the Community Survey results.

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October 19, 2022, Community Workshop on Mixed Use / Multi-Family ODS

Topic: Design standards for mixed-use and multifamily housing developments. Discussions by participants addressed landscaping and tree-lined streets, pocket parks and common open spaces, balconies, and rooftop decks, building materials and articulation, step-backs for upper stories, and much more.

Click here for Presentation SlidesWorkshop Recording, and Workshop Summary

June 6, 2022, Joint Residential Design Review Committee & Planning and Transportation Commission Study Session on Single-Family ODS

Topic: Presentation of project updates and Virtual Community Workshop data, gathering input, and receiving public comments on the Objective Design Standards being developed for future residential projects in San Carlos.

Click here for the Joint Study Session Meeting Recording and Agenda Packet

May 4, 2022, Community Workshop on Single-Family ODS

Topic: Single-family design in San Carlos neighborhoods. A variety of residents volunteered their time that evening to help staff and the project consultant (MIG) understand what design elements are most important to the community.

Click here for Presentation SlidesWorkshop Recording, and Workshop Summary

City Contact Information

For ODS-specific questions or comments contact:
Rucha Dande, AICP
Project Manager

For general planning inquiries contact:

City Council Meeting, City Hall San Carlos CA

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October 23, 2023
7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
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City Hall
600 Elm Street
San Carlos, CA 94070 United States
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City of San Carlos
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