Design Review

In order to ensure that new construction and remodeling in Piedmont is attractive, safe, and harmonious with its surroundings the City engages in a design review process. The intent of the process is preserve the city's architectural heritage, aesthetic values, residential character and natural beauty.

In order for a design review permit to be approved, the design of a project must conform to all three of the following standards provided in City Code section 17.66.060:

  1. The proposed design is consistent with the City’s General Plan and Piedmont Design Guidelines.
  2. The Design has little or no effect on neighboring properties’ existing views, privacy, and access to direct and indirect light.
  3. The Proposed design does not adversely affect pedestrian or vehicular safety.

In order to assist property owners and design professionals in planning their project, and to assist City staff, Planning Commissioners and neighboring property owners in reviewing the project, the City has adopted Design Guidelines.

There are three levels of design review permit: 

There are also design review permit applications specific to commercial signs, fences and retaining walls, and windows and doors. Application forms for each type of design review are provided at the bottom of this page as downloadable PDFs. Additional information regarding policies and assistance for to help prepare for the design review applications is included in the Design Guidelines.

For more information on the level of design review is required for your project and the design review process, please refer to City Code division 17.66, Chapter 2 of the Design Guidelines, and/or the Design Review Permit application forms.

For assistance in determining what type of design review is needed for a specific project, contact the Planning Division staff at (510) 420-3050. 

Application forms for each type of design review are provided at the bottom of this page as downloadable PDFs. Additional information regarding policies and assistance for to help prepare for the design review applications is also included below.  

While this page provides a general summary of design review regulations in the City of Piedmont to help answer questions ahead of the design review process, a complete description of all requirements can be found in Chapter 17 of the City Code (the zoning ordinance) and the City's Design Guidelines.  

Further background may also be found in the design review Frequently Asked Questions


Expedited Design Review Permit (DRP-E)

Expedited design review permits are for minor projects that seek to replace an existing feature with a new feature that is different in some way including, but not limited to: changes in material, function or design, or new features that are minor and have no impact on neighbors or the public. The specific list of eligible projects is provided in the Expedited Design Review Permit application form. The process typically takes less than two (2) weeks from the date a complete application is submitted. Window & Door Design Review Permit is a sub-type of Expedited Design Review specific to windows and doors.

  1. Submit the DRP-E application (PDF) and fee, along with two (2) copies of plans and the materials specified in the submission checklist. For certain projects on the list, you will need adjacent neighbor sign-off of your plans prior to your submission.
  2. Once the application has been determined complete, staff will evaluate your project for its compliance with the City's zoning requirements and the Design Guidelines (PDF). Staff will make its decision in writing, including any conditions of approval. If your application is incomplete, you are asked to submit the missing materials. Your plans may be approved, approved with modifications or conditions, or denied without notice and hearing.
  3. Following your design review permit approval, you then need to apply for a building permit. (A building permit may be submitted at the same time as the DRP-E application or following the decision.) Your project will now go through Plan Check and the Building Official, which can take 1-2 weeks. Once the Building Official has approved the permit it must be issued before the commencement of construction.
  4. Your building permit must be issued within one year of the original approval date of the Design Review Permit or the Design Review Permit expires. You may apply for a one time, six (6) month extension of the approved Design Review Permit by submitting the Administrative Extension Form (PDF) and its associated fee.

 


Design Review Permit - Reviewed by Director (DRP-D)

DRP-D is for projects less than $131,055 in value, which do not require a variance or a Fence/Retaining Wall Design Review Permit. The process usually takes about 40 calendar days from the date the application is submitted to the end of the appeal period. You are strongly encouraged to contact Planning Division staff to discuss your project prior to the submission of and application to determine what materials may be required (such as story poles.)

  1. Submit the DRP-D application (PDF) and fee, along with two (2) copies of plans and the materials specified in the application submittal checklist.
  2. After determining that the application is complete, the Planning Staff evaluates your project for its compliance with the City's zoning requirements and the Design Guidelines (PDF). If your application is incomplete, you are asked to submit the missing materials. Staff notifies your adjacent neighbors of your application and allows them 14 days to review your plans at City Hall and submit written comments on the project.
  3. After the 14-day review, a decision is made. Your plans may be approved, approved with modifications or conditions, denied, or referred to the Planning Commission. Once any approval is made, it is good for 12 months.
  4. A 10-day appeal period follows the decision. A staff decision may be appealed by anyone to the Planning Commission for a fee.
  5. Following your design review permit approval, you then need to apply for a building permit. (A building permit may be submitted at the same time as the DRP-D application or following the decision.) Your project will now go through plan check and the Building Official, which can take several weeks depending on the complexity of the project. Once the Building Official has approved the permit it may be issued (as long as the appeal period has ended).
  6. Your building permit must be issued within one year of the original approval date or your DRP-D will expire. You may apply for a one time, six (6) month extension of your approval by submitting the Administrative Extension Form (PDF) and its associated fee.

 


Design Review Permit - Reviewed by Planning Commission (DRP) (including Fence Design Review Permit and Sign Design Review Permit)

DRP is for projects more than $131,055 in value, projects requiring a variance, and occasionally, other design review permit applications that are referred to the Planning Commission for review. In addition, most built features, including fencing and ornamental structures, located in front yards are subject to review by the Planning Commission. The Commission meets the second Monday of each month at 5:00 PM in the City Council Chambers. DRP applications must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the next meeting of the Planning Commission. A schedule of meeting and submittal deadlines is provided in the Design Review Permit Application form.


Application Forms and Additional Materials related to Design Review

Application forms for each type of design review:

The following policies regarding specific elements of the design review process are provided in the City of Piedmont Design Guidelines:

The Design Guidelines also provide information to assist the design of projects and the preparation of plans submitted with a design review application: