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PJR-059 Administrative Design Review - Commercial & Industrial Projects

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The Sonoma County Zoning Ordinance allows Administrative Design Review for new commercial or industrial uses previously approved by use permit or design review and minor facade changes or minor building additions for commercial or industrial uses. New structures up to 10,000 square feet in urban areas may be eligible for Administrative Design Review at staff discretion.

Administrative Design Review applications are evaluated in accordance with the provisions and development standards found in Article 82 of the Sonoma County Zoning Ordinance (Design Review). Design review applications must also be consistent with applicable policies of the General Plan, specific or area plans, and the Zoning Ordinance. 


The applicant submits a complete application to the Planning Division. A project planner will be assigned to the project, and your application will be reviewed for completeness within 30 days. The planner will notify the applicant in writing if the application is found to be incomplete and what information is required to complete the application. “Incomplete” means that either all information required was not submitted or that some of that information was found inadequate. After the application is determined to be complete, the assigned planner applications may refer the project to other divisions of Permit Sonoma, other County departments, and appropriate outside agencies for review, comments, and conditions. 

The project planner will evaluate the proposal for consistency with zoning standards and policies within the General Plan or any applicable specific or area plans, by reviewing the proposed building location(s), driveway location, architecture, building material and colors, site and building lighting, and landscaping.

Administrative Design Review is generally conducted at the staff level. Neither a public hearing nor public notification is required for Administrative Design Review actions. Upon completion of the project review, the project planner may approve the project with conditions of approval. This action, which will be in writing and will specify any conditions of approval, is appealable to the Sonoma County Design Review Committee. Appeals must be submitted within ten calendar days of the date of the approval letter.

For complex or difficult projects, the project planner may refer an application to the Design Review Committee for review and comment. 

Environmental Review

Design review applications may require environmental review unless otherwise determined exempt in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 

Required Application Materials

A complete application shall include the following items. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. Note: All documents must be submitted electronically. Permit Sonoma staff may, upon request, provide some assistance with electronic submittal if required. 

  1. Application Forms:
    1. PJR-001 Planning Application (PDF), signed by the applicant and property owner(s).
    2. PJR-011 Indemnification Agreement (PDF), signed by owner or agent with owner’s written authorization. A separate indemnification agreement must be signed by each property owner.
    3. PJR-095 At-Cost Agreement (PDF). PROJECT TYPE projects are processed on an at-cost basis. An At-cost Agreement is required at the time of submittal to provide a minimum fee and deposit sufficient to cover the cost of staff work on the project. Deposits must be maintained to cover staff costs or work may be halted on the project.   
  2. Proposal statement, a comprehensive and detailed description of the current use of the property and the complete scope of all proposed changes and improvements to the site. Include information regarding the type of use, size and height of new structures, all site improvements, and overall lot coverage. Any planned future use of the site must also be described and incorporated on a conceptual basis as part of the current design proposal. In addition, address the following: 
    1. Operations: Hours of operation, number of employees, estimated number of daily visitors.
    2. Storage: Indoor and outdoor storage areas.
    3. Traffic: Estimated trip generation including employee trips, truck trips, and general public trips.
    4. Utilities: Sewage disposal, water supply, and solid waste.
    5. Stormwater Management: Runoff, treatment, drainage, and flood control.
    6. Construction Methods and Timing: type and extent of construction required, the construction methods, extent of grading, quantities of cuts and fills, location of any deposits or spoils, the duration and hours of construction, and the location of staging areas.  Note if any blasting or pile driving is proposed.
  3. Site plan meeting the requirements of PJR-129, Site Plan Requirements for Planning Applications. Include a tabulation of the required and proposed lot coverage and parking. 
  4. Preliminary building plans, including elevations, floor plans, and sections. Elevations must identify exterior colors and materials, and all mechanical equipment, exterior lights, trash enclosures and other exterior structures. Building height must be identified on the section (measured from the average of the highest and lowest points of the lot covered by the structure to the highest roof point). Structural plans are not required until application is made for building permits. Compliance with accessibility elements within the California Building Code may be required. 
  5. Preliminary site grading plans, distinguishing between areas of cut and areas of fill. Note: not all projects will require grading plans. Consult the Permit Sonoma Grading and Storm Water section for requirements. 
  6. Preliminary landscaping plans, if landscaping is proposed or required. Plans should show location, species, common name, and size of plants to be planted. Landscaping must comply with the Water-Efficient Landscaping Ordinance (WELO) in Section 7D3 of Sonoma County Code.
  7. Tree protection plan. If any trees will be impacted by development or are proposed for removal, provide a site plan depicting all trees to be removed identifying diameter (in inches) and species type. Mitigation may be required by the Sonoma County Tree Protection Ordinance (Section 26-88-010(m)).
  8. Preliminary lighting plans. Provide the manufacturer’s specification sheet for each light fixture proposed for the exterior of the building(s) and the site. Include the location of fixtures on a site plan, floor plan, or elevations
  9. Materials and colors. Provide a diagram with material and colors details for the roof, siding, trim, and windows. Include proposed paint and finish as appropriate. Provide color photographs of the materials
  10. Filing fee. See the current Permit Sonoma Project Review Fee Schedule. Fees will be determined once the full scope of a project is evaluated by Permit Sonoma staff at the time of application submittal. If paying by check, please do not fill in amounts on checks prior to application acceptance. 

Advisory Items: Your project may be subject to comply with the following requirements, which could directly affect the design of your project. Please proceed accordingly.

  1. Parking. New and/or expanded uses must meet Parking Regulations under Article 86, and parking lot layout dimensions shown in the Off-Street Parking Design Standards under Article 82. Compliance with accessibility elements within the California Building Code is required.
  2. Standard Urban Storm Water Management Plan (SUSMP) Requirements. If the project is subject to SUSMP requirements, a Preliminary Storm Water Mitigation Plan is required. Applicants are responsible for consulting Permit Sonoma’s Engineering Division to discuss Storm Water applicability and requirements prior to submitting their Design Review application.
  3. Accessibility Requirements. New construction and remodeling of, or additions to, existing facilities must meet State of California disabled accessibility requirements. Please consult with the Building section of Permit Sonoma for specific details.