FAQ Topic: Objective Design Standards

How do I provide feedback?

The draft Objective Design Standards will be published in mid-September 2023, and information about how to provide feedback will be provided with the published document.  

What is the proposed schedule?

City staff are preparing for two Planning Commission study sessions in October 2023. A public hearing before the Planning Commission is planned for November 2023. After conducting a public hearing, the Planning Commission will make a recommendation to the City Council to either adopt the Objective Design Standards or direct staff to make modifications before … Continued

How were the proposed Objective Design Standards developed?

City staff reviewed existing objective and subjective standards in the General Plan, Smart Code, Implementing Zoning Ordinance, Petaluma River Enhancement Plan, and Landscaping and Parking Guidelines for Site Plan and Architecture Review. We also reviewed objective design standards for different cities in the Bay Area, including Los Gatos, Alameda, Milpitas, Palo Alto, and Santa Rosa, … Continued

What if a project does not comply with Objective Design Standards?

If a qualifying project is reviewed under objective standards, it must comply with ALL objective standards, including the Objective Design Standards, unless the project is eligible to request a waiver of certain standards*. If a project applicant does not wish to comply with the Objective Design Standards, they may apply for Site Plan and Architectural … Continued

Why not create standards for all housing projects?

The City is in the process of updating the General Plan which provides the overarching policy direction for future development in the City of Petaluma. The General Plan update is a lengthy process that involves technical experts, extensive community engagement, and environmental review.  When complete, the General Plan is implemented through updates to the Implementing … Continued

How do these new standards affect existing objective standards?

The Objective Design Standards (ODS) only apply to qualifying residential projects that can only be reviewed for compliance with objective standards. Our proposed Objective Design Standards add to our existing standards – they do not remove or modify existing objective standards. Development standards such as density requirements (number of dwelling units per acre), building height … Continued

What is guiding our development of the proposed Objective Design Standards?

California is experiencing a housing crisis. It’s common knowledge that housing supplies in California’s communities are limited, and the cost of housing is unachievable for many who live in California. To address the need for housing, the State is pursuing various strategies to produce affordable, quality housing in all communities. The proposed Objective Design Standards … Continued

Why is the City pursuing the establishment of Objective Design Standards?

The State of California has passed laws that limit the City’s review of certain qualifying residential projects to either a ministerial review process, meaning that if the project complies with all objective standards, it must be approved, or a limited discretionary process which limits the ability to disapprove a project. For example, SB 35 requires … Continued

How are they used – and where do I find them?

Objective design standards are intended to make the design requirements that apply to certain qualifying residential projects more predictable and easier to interpret for all stakeholders, including decision-makers, staff, applicants, and members of the public. The purpose of objective design standards is for applicants to know beforehand what requirements apply to a proposed development and … Continued

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