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Citywide Design Guidelines Update

The City of San José is updating and consolidating its residential, commercial, and industrial design guidelines as one document, entitled “San José Citywide Design Standards and Guidelines” (Citywide DSG).

The Citywide DSG will work in conjunction with other City documents and regulations to ensure that buildings throughout San José have high-quality design and are appropriate for their site, function, and neighborhood.

Compliance with the Citywide DSG will be mandatory in the design review process for all applicable developments.


Here is the Draft Design Standards and Guidelines.  

Areas and buildings subject to the new citywide DESIGN STANDARD AND GUIDELINES

The new Citywide DSG will apply to the area within San José’s Urban Growth boundary, excluding:

  • Single-family residences;
  • Rehabilitation, modification, or adaptive reuse of historic buildings; and
  • Downtown San José and the Diridon Station Area (these are subject to the Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards).

Projects in Urban Villages, Specific Plans, and North San José or other Area Development Policies are subject to the standards and guidelines within those applicable guidance documents. If those documents are silent on any specific design components, the design standards and guidelines contained in the Citywide Design Standards and Guidelines shall apply for those design components only.


Due to the large number of existing City guidelines to be updated, staff developed a phased approach for the guidelines update.

  • Phase I - San José Downtown Design Standards and Guidelines were updated and approved in 2019
  • Phase II – The City is now embarking on the updated and consolidated Citywide Design Guidelines and Standards. The consolidation includes the Commercial Design Guidelines (1990), Industrial Design Guidelines (1992), and Residential Design Guidelines (1997).

Process & Community Outreach

The development of the Draft Citywide DSG includes a series of virtual community engagement events during Summer 2020. As agendas are developed, they will be inserted below.

July 15: Historic Landmark Commission Design Review Subcommittee Study Session

Time: 1:00-2:00 p.m.


July 21: Community Meeting II-Session 1: Informational Session

Time: 6:00-7:30 p.m.


Meeting Recording

July 22: Planning Commission Study Session I

Time: 5:00-6:30 p.m.


Meeting Recording

July 24: Developers and Designers Focus Group Meeting

Time: 9:00-10:30 a.m.


July 28: Community Meeting II- Session 2: Listening Session

Time: 6:00-7:30 p.m.


July 31: Last day to provide public comments 

Aug 5: Historic Landmark Commission Study Session

Time: 6:30-7:30 p.m.

August 12: Planning Commission Study Session II

Time: 5:00-6:30 p.m.

Community Meeting I - Fall 2019

The first Community Workshop which provided an introduction to the project was held on October 2019.