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Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards

Final San Jose Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards
On April 23, 2019 San José City Council approved the new San José Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards with the exception of Bird Safety Design Guideline page that requires more study and analysis. The Bird Safety Design page will be presented at City Council Public Hearing on May 2019.

Link: Final San José Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards

Public Hearing Notice - Planning Commission & City Council Hearings
Following outreach and feedback that began in 2018 on an early draft"San José Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards," City Design Team staff presented a final draft at public hearings, scheduled as shown below. 

File Nos. GPT19-001 and PP19-018
Council Districts 3 and 6

Hearings on proposed "San José Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards" 
and city-initiated General Plan text amendment to modify “Chapter 3. Final Plan Design Guidelines” of the Diridon Station Area Plan are as follows:

         Planning Commission: 
March 27, 2019 - 6:30 p.m.
         San José City Hall, Council Chambers
         Agendas are posted a week prior at:

         City Council: 
April 23, 2019 – 6:00 p.m.
         San José City Hall, Council Chambers

         Agendas are posted 10 days prior at:

         Link: Proposed "San José Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards" (for web view), March 19, 2019
                  Proposed "San José Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards" (for print), March 19, 2019

Design Guidelines Process

The City Design Team and a consultant team have been working since early 2018 to update the Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards document ("Design Guidelines"). The update includes review of various Downtown strategy and policy documents and gathering public input. Note: These links open the older Nov. 15, 2018 draft version; 

The Design Guidelines cover the design review process, site context and design, public realm, building massing and architecture, ground floor design, transit access, parking, view corridors, pedestrian and bicycle connectivity, materials and colors, lighting, signage, façade treatment, bird safety design, and transitions to existing lower intensity and historic buildings.

When approved by Council, this document will replace the 2004 Downtown Design Guidelines and supplement the 2014 Diridon Station Area Plan Design Guidelines:

Public Outreach and Input

The project team began conducting outreach on the draft Design Guidelines in February 2018. The following organizations have been or continue to be involved in the development of the document:

American Institute of Architects (AIA)                                        Preservation Action Council of San José (PACSJ)
Caltrain                                                                                      San José Downtown Association   
City Council and department staff                                             San José State University (SJSU)
City of San José Station Area Advisory Group (SAAG)            Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) 
Developers and Construction Industry                                      SAP Center
Knight Foundation                                                                     SPUR
Public workshops:

Background and Knight Foundation Grant

In August 2017, the City received a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to update the Downtown Design Guidelines. The City Council designated this project as Policy Priority #20 at its priority setting session on October 27, 2017.

Contact Information

Leila Hakimizadeh, AICP, Supervising Planner/Project Manager
Planning Division, City of San José
Phone: 408-535-7818