Design Review Board

The Design Review Board (DRB) consists of design professionals appointed by the City Council to provide advice on new development projects and most exterior changes to existing buildings. Applications are evaluated based on our General Plan and Zoning Ordinance design policies and criteria, with the goal of having new projects harmonize with the natural environment and surrounding area.

The Board is advisory, with final permit decisions made by the Planning Division staff, the Zoning Administrator, Planning Commission or City Council, depending on the complexity of the project.  The scope of the DRB authority is to review and make recommendations on design matters such as architecture, mass, bulk, site planning, site improvements, color, materials, and landscaping.


The Design Review Board is composed of 5 San Rafael residents and qualified design professionals who are appointed by the City Council to four-year terms. The DRB also includes an alternate member. The alternate member only becomes a voting member at meetings where one or more regular Board members are absent.  In addition to the five (5) council-appointed board members and 1 alternate member, one Planning Commissioner attends DRB meetings and serves as a liaison. The Planning Commission liaison is present at all DRB meetings to offer advice and direction to the Board on matters of Planning Commission concern and also to report back to the Planning Commission on the discussion at the DRB meeting if that item appears before the Commission.


The Design Review Board welcomes input on projects from members of the public. Meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council chambers. The meetings follow the outlined protocol.

Upcoming meetings along with agendas, staff reports, videos and meeting minutes are posted online.

For most projects that appear before the Design Review Board, a notice of public meeting is mailed to property owners, businesses and residents within 300 feet of a site. To be notified of all Design Review Board meetings sign up online!

Contact the Design Review Board:

The DRB is a volunteer body and does not have regular office hours at the City offices. City policy is that all communication with the DRB member be through City staff. Therefore, you may forward comments/information to the Design Review Board members via email or in writing to:

San Rafael Design Review Board
c/o City of San Rafael Community Development Department
PO Box 151560
San Rafael, CA 94915

You can also come to a meeting and speak during open time, in which you are allowed to speak for 3 minutes.


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