Design Guidelines

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urban design


 The City Design Guidelines were adopted in 1991. The Design Guidelines are used to evaluate proposed development projects that require design review and a discretionary approval (public hearing process). When a project does not require a discretionary permit, then the Design Guidelines are used to show which design principles are recommended for projects to incorporate.   All property owners, developers and design professionals are encouraged to carefully review these Design Guidelines before commencing planning and design studies, and to consult with the City's Community Development staff should questions or the need for interpretation occur. Specific Plans typically include additional design guidelines for Specific Plan areas like the Pier Bowl.


 Below are projects that often require a discretionary approval and design review:

  • Projects located on a historically significant site
  • Projects located adjacent to, across the street from, or within 300 feet of a historically significant site
  • Commercial, mixed-use, and industrial projects 
  • Residential projects that include the development of five or more units
  • Projects within the Architectural Overlay district, which includes the Pier Bowl area, along El Camino Real (west of I-5), the Downtown Core, and within North Beach.

To view the Design Guidelines, click the links below.

 Henry Lenny Architectural Design Guidelines

The Henry Lenny Architectural Design Guidelines are intended to assist the public by clarifying the design criteria and procedures for the Architectural Overlay District. A map of the Architectural Overlay District can be accessed by this LINK. The Henry Lenny Architectural Design Guidelines and City Design Guidelines are used to determine if projects enhance and preserve San Clemente’s historical and architectural tradition. These guidelines are also intended to provide architects and designers with the basic principles inherent in Hispanic Architecture. Creativity is highly encouraged and possible within this design vocabulary. These guidelines can be accessed by this LINK.

Specific Plan Design Guidelines

There are several areas of the City that are regulated by Specific Plans, including Forster Ranch, Marblehead Coastal, Marblehead Inland, Pier Bowl, Rancho San Clemente, Talega, and West Pico Corridor. These Specific Plans typically include additional design guidelines for these areas. Developers should also reference and follow these design guidelines when projects are proposed in a particular Specific Plan area. Specific Plans can be accessed by this LINK.

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