Pinole's Design Review

Design Review



Nearly all projects (residential and commercial) that involve new construction, exterior alterations, and repainting, require design review approval through the City. Design review can take place concurrently with other discretionary permit applications. Design review is conducted by either Planning staff or Planning Commission.


Planning staff may administratively approve the following Design Review requests:

  • Minor modifications to commercial exteriors including but not limited to awnings, trellis details, and window changes
  • Repainting of commercial structures involving new color schemes for a single building complex of less than 4,000 sq. ft. in area
  • Commercial re-roofing
  • Mechanical roof screens
  • Business sign replacement where the use does not change and the proposed signage is installed in the same location as the existing signage
  • New parking lot configuration plans involving fewer than (10) parking spaces
  • Landscape plans showing minor changes including but not limited to plant/tree replacement on commercial properties, replacement of new vegetation to match previously approved plans, inclusion of decorative garn features (i.e. trellis, benches, etc). and new landscaping for a single family residential home
  • Single-family residential additions and accessory structures
  • Ramps or other improvements to accommodate individuals with disabilities

The Planning Commission reviews the following Design Review requests:

  • New Single-Family Homes
  • New Commercial Structures
  • New Mixed-Use Projects
  • New landscape plans for commercial properties including new landscaping for a multi-family complex, new landscaping for an existing commercial building, and new landscaping for a new commercial construction
  • Major modifications/additions to commercial structures/exteriors including additions to existing building, alterations of architectural features, and other changes that substantially alter the appearance of the building
  • Repainting of commercial structures greater than 4,000 sq. ft. in area or involving a development site with two or more buildings
  • Parking lot plans involving ten (10) or more parking spaces

Information on the design review process for buildings in the Historic Overlay District may also be found in a separate information sheet entitled "Old Town Design Guidelines."


The following projects do not require design review approval, only a Building Permit issued through the Building Division:

  • Almost any changes to a single family home, including painting, reroofing, adding a deck or patio cover.
  • Repainting commercial buildings where there is no change to the exterior colors (No Building Permit required).
  • Changing a sign, where the new sign is the same size and style as the sign being replaced.
  • New sign that is consistent with an approved sign program. Check with City Planner to find out if business is located in a center with an approved sign program.


A pre-application review between the project sponsor and planning staff to discuss project scope is highly encouraged. By meeting with staff early in the review process, questions and concerns related to the project request can be addressed. The level of design review (Staff or Planning Commission review) and any additional permits that may be required (such as a variance or use permit) will also be determined. Please contact Planning Staff at (510) 724-8912 for additional information.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to meet with members of the Public Works and Fire Departments during the pre-application process to identify pertinent issues.


The submittal requirements for Design Review are listed below. Once submitted, the plans will be reviewed for completeness. You will be contacted if additional information is required. The plans should be folded to a 82" by 14" size (with the title block on the outside fold).

The applicant shall submit to the Planning Division of the Community Development Department ten (10) sets of 24x36 plans and one (1) reduction of 11 x 17 plans. The site plan shall include all of the following:

  1. North arrow and title block with:
    1. Scale of plans;
    2. Name and address of applicant; and
    3. Date of preparation.

  2. All boundary lines on the subject property fully dimensioned and tied in with the center line of adjacent or nearby streets.
  3. The name, location, and width of any adjacent public or private streets. Widths should include any required street widening. Pavement, curbs and sidewalks should be indicated.
  4. The width and location of all existing or proposed public or private easements.
  5. All proposed improvements properly dimensioned. For structures located near major or minor ridge lines, as shown in the General Plan, the applicant must provide documentation of the setback from the ridge line. Structures, where possible, must be setback 400 feet horizontally from major ridge lines and 100 feet from minor ridge lines and a vertical setback of 100 feet from both.
  6. All parking spaces and aisles drawn and dimensioned with the flow of traffic noted by arrows and calculations of required number of parking spaces.
  7. Preliminary grading plan, including new and existing contours.
  8. The location and width of all vehicular and pedestrian access openings into and out of the property.
  9. All proposed walls and fences, including height and material.
  10. Exterior lighting fixtures and locations (including style, height, color, and intensity).
  11. The zoning and existing land use of the subject property and properties contiguous to its boundaries.
  12. Location of trash enclosures and solid fences.
  13. Location of nearest walls and structures on adjacent properties, the use therein, and adjoining driveways.
  14. Conceptual sign program.
  15. Location, dimension and elevation of all drainage facilities and utility connections.
  16. Location of fire hydrants and watermain sizes.
  17. Provisions for undergrounding of all utilities.
  18. Indicate all existing street lights, utility poles, trees and signs within the public right-of-way adjacent to the site.
  19. All exterior elevations; scale as appropriate for presentation, but in no case less than 1/8" = 1'. Note location of any signs.
    1. One elevation should be in color
    2. Color samples and materials mounted on a board or rigid surface should be submitted.
    3. Screening of all mechanical equipment, gas meters, electric meters, electric transformers, etc.

  20. Floor plans, that include the following:
  21. Conceptual landscaping plans. (Note: Prior to issuance of building permits, a final plan will be required.)
    1. Compliance with City's "Landscape Requirements for New Construction" Ordinance;
    2. Provisions for automatic sprinkler system;
    3. Location, type and approximate size of existing trees where trunk exceeds 6 inches in diameter at a point 24 inches above grade;
    4. Location of existing shrubs of 10 feet or more in height or width or hedges of 5 feet in height and 15 feet in length;
    5. All trees, shrubs and hedges to be removed shall be noted; and
    6. Location and dimension of all planted areas.

  22. A completed Environmental Checklist (unless the project is determined to be exempt) (original only).
  23. Filing fee (see fee schedule for correct amount). Checks should be made payable to "City of Pinole."


The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that certain design review applications undergo environmental review. You will be informed if such review is required for your application. A separate "Environmental Review" handout contains additional submittal requirements.


Once an application is determined to be complete, it is formally accepted. Copies of the application are sent to reviewing agencies and departments. The application is then scheduled for a public hearing before the Planning Commission. A separate schedule of hearing dates and submittal deadlines may be obtained from the Planning Division. It should be emphasized that submittal on a given date does not guarantee scheduling for a particular meeting. Hearing dates can only be confirmed following acceptance of the application.


The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing to consider the plans and may approve, conditionally approve, continue the project to a date certain if there are unresolved issues, or disapprove the application request. The Planning Commission will review criteria contained in the Zoning Ordinance, staff recommendation, and the testimony received at the meeting.

The Planning Commission's decision is final unless appealed within 10 calendar days of the date of action. Information on appeals can be found in a separate information sheet. An approved project may not commence construction until the close of the appeal period and until all applicable permit approvals have been secured.


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