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The design review process was instituted as part of Sausalito's development review process to promote quality design, site relationships, and other aesthetic considerations of development in the City. Special consideration is given to building design, site planning, parking, landscape design, views, and native vegetation preservation. The five to seven member Planning Commission (PC) is partially composed of architects to provide the Commission with professional expertise in its review of development proposals. The Planning Commission reviews most development proposals in the City. However, with respect to signs, the PC must:

  • Review the merits of proposed signs in accordance with Section 10.304 of Sausalito Municipal Code Title 10 (Zoning),
  • Review and approve the proposed sign prior to the issuance of building permits, if required, and
  • Impose conditions of approval and/or modifications to the project plans, if necessary, for the final approval.


Step 1 - Project Consideration

Early in the consideration of a potential project, the applicant should carefully review what the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance calls for in the location or area affected with respect to signage. It is essential that the proposed sign be consistent with the General Plan and the Zoning Ordinance or the application cannot be accepted. Community Development Department personnel should be consulted for opinions on compatibility and probable conditions.

Step 2 - Filing of Application

The applicant will submit the completed application, filing fee and other required data (see "Application Submittal Requirements" at end of this document) to the Community Development Department. Once the application has been filed:

  • A staff planner will be assigned to review the material to make sure all the required information is provided.
  • The applicant will be notified within 30 days after filing as to whether the application is complete or whether additional information is required.

The fee for design review is established by the City Council and is intended to offset the cost of the number of hours that professional staff spend on design review projects.

Step 3 - Environmental Review

Some design review requests for signs may be required to have an environmental assessment to determine if it will have an adverse impact on the environment. Information on timing and sequence of this process is contained in "A Guide to Procedures for Environmental Review."

Step 4 - Staff Review for Planning Commission

Once the application has been deemed complete, Planning staff will:

  • Evaluate the application by conducting a site investigation,
  • Review its conformance with the City's General Plan and zoning provisions,
  • Analyze the potential environmental impacts, and
  • Analyze any other issues unique to the proposed project.

A written staff report will be prepared for the PC which will analyze the proposed sign and will include recommendations on the project.

A copy of the staff report will be sent to the applicant on the Friday before the scheduled PC hearing date. Copies of the report will also be available to the public after they are sent to the PC.

Step 5 - Formal Planning Commission Review

The PC is required to hold at least one hearing on the proposed sign application. Once the application has been deemed complete:

  • Staff will prepare a public notice scheduling the design review application on the next available agenda.

The notice must be posted no fewer than 10 days prior to the hearing date, and be posted in the City Hall and appear in the Marin Scope newspaper.

At the public hearing:

  • Staff will present a report and recommendations to the PC.
  • The staff presentation will be followed by testimony from the applicant and any interested persons who wish to comment on the application. The PC may then:
    • Close the public hearing,
    • Make a decision conditionally approving the request,
    • Deny the request,
    • Postpone the decision to a later date, or
    • Keep the public hearing open and continue the hearing to a specified time, date, and place.

The PC decision will become final at the date of adoption of the resolution, unless an appeal is filed (as is described in Step 6). The Resolution will either be adopted at the final hearing or at the next scheduled meeting of the Commission.

Step 6 - Appeals to the City Council

Within 10 days after the decision of the PC, an applicant, city resident, or affected property owner may submit an appeal of the PC's action to the City Council (CC) by filing an appeal form and appeal fee with the City Clerk. After the filing of an appeal, the following steps will take place:

  • A public hearing will be scheduled for the CC.
  • A notice of the time, date and place of the hearing will be mailed (at least 10 days prior to the hearing) to the appellant, the applicant, property owners within a 300 foot radius of the project site and to any other person requesting the notice.

Following the public hearing on the appeal, the Council may:

  • Refer the matter back to the PC for further review, or
  • Reverse, affirm or modify the decision of the PC.

The decision of the City Council is final.


The actual time for processing of a design review application will vary depending upon the complexity and magnitude of the proposal and staff and Commission workloads, but it is generally estimated:

A. From completed application to PC review: 3-4 WEEKS
B. PC review to City Council acknowledgment of PC Action: 1-2 WEEKS
C. Total Estimated Process Time: 4-6 WEEKS

Last updated: 9/15/2007 11:54:00 AM