Planning Division: Design Review Permit Process

In order to ensure that new construction and remodeling in Piedmont is attractive, safe, and harmonious with its surroundings the city engages in a design review process. The intent of the process is preserve the city's architectural heritage, aesthetic values, residential character and natural beauty. There are three levels of design review: Expedited Design Review Permit, Design Review Permit - Reviewed by Director, & Design Review Permit - Reviewed by Planning Commission. Please contact Planning Division staff at (510) 420-3050 for help in determining what type of design review is needed for a specific project.

Application Forms for each type of design review are downloadable below:

Policies regarding specific elements of the design review process are downloadable below:

Additional Information to assist in the preparation of design review applications and plans:

The information below provides a general summary of Design Review regulations in the City of Piedmont. Reading this page can save you time, answer some of your questions about Design Review, and help you navigate the Design Review Process.

Keep in mind that this is a summary only. For a complete description of Design Review requirements, you will need to obtain Chapter 17 of the City Code (the zoning ordinance) and a copy of the City’s Residential Design Review Guidelines. Both are available at the Department of Public Works counter in City Hall.

Click here to view a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the Design Review process.


Expedited Design Review Permit (DRP-E)

Expedited design review permits are for minor projects that seek to replace an existing feature with a new feature that is different in some way including, but not limited to, changes in material, function or design, or new features that are minor and have no impact on neighbors or the public. The specific list of eligible projects is in the City's Design Review Guidelines. The process typically takes less than two (2) weeks from the date a complete application is submitted.

  1. Submit the DRP-E application and fee, along with two (2) copies of plans and the materials specified in the submittal checklist. For certain projects on the list, you will need adjacent neighbor sign-off of your plans prior to your submittal.
  2. Once the application has been determined complete, staff will evaluate your project for its compliance with the City's zoning requirements and Design Review Guidelines. Staff will make its decision in writing, including any conditions of approval. If your application is incomplete, you are asked to submit the missing materials. Your plans may be approved, approved with modifications or conditions, or denied without notice and hearing.
  3. Following your design review permit approval, you then need to apply for your building permit. (A building permit may be submitted at the same time as the DRP-E application or following the decision.) Your project will now go through Plan Check and the Building Official, which can take 1-2 weeks. Once the Building Official has approved the permit it may be issued.
  4. Your building permit must be issued within one year of the original approval date or your approval expires. You may apply for a one time, six (6) month extension of your approval be submitting the Administrative Extension Form and paying a fee equal to one half of the original application fee prior to the expiration of your initial approval.

Design Review Permit - Reviewed by Director (DRP-D)

DRP-D is for projects less than $125,000 in value, which do not require a variance or a Fence Design Review Permit. The process usually takes about 40 calendar days from the date the application is submitted to the end of the appeal period. You are strongly encouraged to contact Planning Division staff to discuss your project prior to submittal to determine what materials may be required (such as story poles.)

  1. Submit the DRP-D application and fee, along with two (2) copies of plans and the materials specified in the application submittal checklist.
  2. After determining that the application is complete, the Planning Staff evaluates your project for its compliance with the City’s zoning requirements and Design Review Guidelines. If your application is incomplete, you are asked to submit the missing materials. Staff notifies your adjacent neighbors of your application and allows them 14 days to review your plans at City Hall.
  3. After the 14-day review, a decision is made. Your plans may be approved, approved with modifications or conditions, denied, or referred to the Planning Commission. Once any approval is made, it is good for 12 months.
  4. A 10-day appeal period follows the decision. A staff decision may be appealed by anyone to the Planning Commission for a fee.
  5. Following your design review permit approval, you then need to apply for your building permit. (A building permit may be submitted at the same time as the DRP-D application or following the decision.) Your project will now go through Plan Check and the Building Official, which can take several weeks depending on the complexity of the project. Once the Building Official has approved the permit it may be issued (as long as the appeal period has ended).
  6. Your building permit must be issued within one year of the original approval date or your DRP-D will expire. You may apply for a one time, six (6) month extension of your approval by submitting the Administrative Extension Form and paying a fee equal to one half of the original application fee prior to the expiration of your initial approval.

Design Review Permit - Reviewed by Planning Commission (DRP) (including Fence Design Review Permit and Sign Design Review)

DRP is for projects more than $125,000 in value, projects requiring a variance, and occasionally, other design review permit applications that are referred to the Planning Commission for review. The Planning Commission meets the second Monday of each month at 5:00 PM in the City Council Chambers. Applications must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the next meeting of the Planning Commission members. A schedule of meeting and submittal deadlines is in the Planning Commission Application form.

  1. You submit two copies of your plans, the application, a calculation worksheet, the fee, photos, an “Affidavit of Service” which affirms that you have notified your immediate neighbors of your plans and the other information specified on the application submittal checklist. Check with the Planning Division for additional information which may be required, such as parking and driveway plans, story pole certification, etc.
  2. Within 30 days, the City makes a determination that your application is complete and places it on the Planning Commission agenda. If your application is incomplete, you are asked to submit the missing materials and your item will be scheduled for a later planning commission meeting.
  3. Two weeks before the hearing, the City notifies persons within a fixed radius of your property (100’ - 500’, depending on the project) and invites them to review your plans.
  4. You will be required to provide (8) eight more copies of your complete plan at that time. Copies of your plans, a staff report describing your project, and any public comments are forwarded to the Planning Commission.
  5. A public hearing before the Planning Commission is held. The commission will evaluate your project for its compliance with the City's zoning requirements and Design Review Guidelines. Your application is either approved, approved with modifications or conditions, or denied. Applications are typically continued to a future hearing date.
  6. A 10-day appeal period follows the Commission’s decision. A Commission decision may be appealed to the City Council for a fee.
  7. Once the approval is received, you may apply for a building permit and submit two (2) copies of construction drawings and other items pertinent to your project (Title 24 Energy Calculations, Soils Report, Engineering Calculations, etc.). Your project will then go through Plan Check and the Building Official, which can take several weeks or longer depending on the scope of your project. Once the Building Official has approved the permit it may be issued (as long as the appeal period has ended).
  8. Your building permit must be issued within one year of the approval date or your Planning Commission Design Review permit approval will expire. You may apply for a one time, six (6) month extension of your approval be submitting the Administrative Extension Form and paying a fee equal to one half of the original application fee prior to the expiration of your initial approval.

Other Applications

Applications for subdivisions, lot line adjustments, conditional use permits, accessory dwelling unit permits, and wireless communication facilities are also processed by the planning Division. Please contact division staff at (510) 420-3050 for more information.