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Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards

Final San Jose Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards

On April 23, 2019 San José City Council approved the new San José Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards. This document was amended by City Council on May 21, 2019 to add the Bird Safety Design Guidelines on page 49 and a few new definitions to the glossary.

Design Guidelines Process

The City Design Team and a consultant began updating the Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards in early 2018 ("Design Guidelines"). The update includes review of various Downtown strategy and policy documents and gathering public input.

Note: These links open the older Nov. 15, 2018 draft version;

The Design Guidelines cover the design review process, site context and design, public realm, building massing and architecture, ground floor design, transit access, parking, view corridors, pedestrian and bicycle connectivity, materials and colors, lighting, signage, façade treatment, bird safety design, and transitions to existing lower intensity and historic buildings.

Council approved the new document and it replaces the 2004 Downtown Design Guidelines and supplements the 2014 Diridon Station Area Plan Design Guidelines.

Public Outreach and Input

The project team began conducting outreach on the draft Design Guidelines in February 2018. The following organizations have been or continue to be involved in the development of the document:

  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • Preservation Action Council of San José (PACSJ)
  • Caltrain San José Downtown Association
  • City Council and department staff San José State University (SJSU)
  • City of San José Station Area Advisory Group (SAAG)
  • Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA)
  • Developers and Construction Industry SAP Center
  • Knight Foundation
  • SPUR

Public workshops

Community Meeting I - April 19, 2018 - Informational and Listening Session

Community Meeting II - December 5, 2018 - Draft Guidelines Presentation

Background and Knight Foundation Grant

In August 2017, the City received a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to update the Downtown Design Guidelines. The City Council designated this project as Policy Priority #20 at its priority setting session on October 27, 2017.

Contact Information

Leila Hakimizadeh, AICP, Supervising Planner/Project Manager
Planning Division, City of San José
Phone: 408-535-7818