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A New Approach to Zoning: The “Form Based Code” 

The key regulatory component of the Draft Plan is the “form-based code” (Chapter 9). The code serves as the zoning regulations for Downtown and will replace many existing regulations and provisions. Unlike conventional zoning that describe regulations and requirements in text, a form-based code explains and describes regulations using graphics. It combines zoning regulations with desired design approaches that are typically found in advisory design guidelines.  The intent is to provide visual direction on what the City wants and expects in building form, size and design. This significantly reduces the potential for inconsistent interpretation of regulations, and reduces the uncertainty in the outcome of design through the development review process.      

 As the “form-based code” approach to zoning is new to San Rafael a series of informational videos were developed to explain how this type of code works and is implemented.  These informational videos can be accessed here.  An additional video will be posted in January 2021 to explain and walk through Downtown San Rafael’s proposed Code.  The City’s consultant will be testing the new Code on a number of projects and will present this information at the January 26, 2021 Planning Commission meeting. 

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