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Signature Project
What is a "Signature Project" and what is the Planning Process for developing a Signature Project?

The Envision San Jose 2040 General Plan directs the City to prepare a comprehensive Urban Village Plan prior to the issuance of entitlements for residential development within any of the Urban Village areas, which are identified on the General Plan's Land Use / Transportation Diagram. Commercial projects and “Signature Projects”, as defined in General Plan Policy IP-5.10, may proceed in advance of the preparation of a Village Plan. 

Policy IP-5.10 states:

  • A Signature Project allows residential development to proceed within Urban Village areas in advance of the preparation of an Urban Village Plan.
  • A residential, mixed-use Signature Project may also proceed ahead of preparation of an Urban Village Plan.
  • A Signature Project clearly advances and can serve as a catalyst for the full implementation of the Envision General Plan Urban Village strategy.
  • A Signature project may be developed within an Urban Village designated as part of the current Plan Horizon, or in a future Horizon Urban Village area by making use of the residential pool capacity.
  • A residential, mixed-use Signature Project may proceed within Urban Village areas in advance of the preparation of an Urban Village Plan if it fully meets the following requirements:
    1. Within the Urban Village areas, Signature projects are appropriate on sites with an Urban Village, residential, or commercial Land Use / Transportation Diagram designation. 
    2. Incorporates job growth capacity above the average density of jobs/acre planned for the developable portions of the entire Village Planning area and, for portions of a Signature project that include housing, those portions incorporate housing density at or above the average density of dwelling units per acre planned for the entire Village Planning area.
    3. Is located at a visible, prominent location within the Village so that it can be an example for, but not impose obstacles to, subsequent other development within the Village area.

 Additionally, a proposed Signature project will be reviewed for substantial conformance with the following objectives:

    1. Includes public parklands and/or privately maintained, publicly-accessible plazas or open space areas. 
    2. Achieves the pedestrian friendly design guideline objectives identified within this General Plan. 
    3. Is planned and designed through a process that provided a substantive opportunity for input by interested community members. 
    4. Demonstrates high-quality architectural, landscape and site design features.
    5. Is consistent with the recommendations of the City’s Urban Design Review process or equivalent recommending process if the project is subject to review by such a process.

The permitting process for a Signature Project will depend on the proposed use or mix of uses and the site’s zoning designation. A project may require a rezoning processed concurrently with a development permit or it may just require a development permit.

Preliminary Review Applications for “Signature Project” Sites

Preliminary Review is required. Effective September 1, 2016, the Planning Division requires Signature Project applicants to file a Preliminary Review Application before applying for any permit related to their project. The review process greatly benefits applicants as it enables staff to provide expert advice and direction at an early stage so as to ensure that project concept develops with conformance to urban village policies, requirements, and zoning. Staff will explain the required nonresidential square footage (jobs), housing density requirements, and any site planning considerations, as well as help applicants to understand the permitting process specific to their proposal. As explained on the Preliminary Review web page, there are four Preliminary Review options. Signature Project applicants who have drawn up preliminary site and architectural plans are encouraged to submit for an Enhanced Preliminary Review. If such drawings are not yet available, the simpler Focused Review will still be highly beneficial.