Modesto City Council Approves New Commercial & Industrial
The City Council has adopted Design Guidelines for
Commercial and Industrial Projects as of September 12, 2006.
The new guidelines are intended to achieve the following:
- Help to keep Modesto an architecturally distinctive
city and not allow it to become “anytown, USA.”
- Design for the pedestrian scale in appropriate
- Assist in guiding the style and appearance of future
development by giving potential developers a clear idea
of what style of development is acceptable and desirable
to the City.
- Provide a comprehensive set of guidelines early in
the development process regarding City development
expectations for builders, investors and residents so
the “rules” are known up front. This will allow
expedited City review of development proposals.
- Ensure that new development is consistent and
compatible with the design and
character of existing neighborhoods.
- Provide flexibility to encourage distinctive design
themes in various areas of the community.
At the Council’s direction, staff is currently working to
prepare amendments to the zoning code to implement the
Guidelines. Currently, the Guidelines will be used to assist
in review of all discretionary planning projects which come
before the City, such as Conditional Use Permits, Plot Pan
Reviews, and Planned Development zones.
The Guidelines are available for your review and download
at the City’s website:
You may also obtain a copy of the guidelines from the
Community and Economic Development Department.
If you are preparing to build an office, retail shop, or
industrial development in Modesto, you are encouraged to
review the guidelines first.
If you have any questions, please call thePlanning staff
at 209-577-5267 and ask for
Cindy van Empel.
On October 24, 2006, Council passed a change to Ordinance
No. 3427-C.S. answering that very question. Those changes
went into effect on November 23, 2006.
The Government Code section 66499.30(b) contains the
language in the Subdivision Map Act that allowed us to let
builders construct multiple “Model Homes” prior to
recordation of the final map. However, this section had no
definition of a “Model Home”.
With the change to the Ordinance, a model home is now
defined as: “a resident structure within a residential
subdivision (including a condominium project) used for the
purposes of displaying, advertising, promotion, or sales of
homes and not used as a dwelling” (10-2.234.3).
The question of how many are allowed, is clarified as
“one (1) temporary real estate office may be located in any
new subdivision, provided that such office shall be used
only for the sale of property located in the subdivision in
which such office is located and shall be removed at the end
of two (2) years from the date of the recording of the map
of the subdivision upon which said office is located, except
that where fewer than half of the lots in such subdivision
have been sold at the end of such two-year period, a
conditional use permit may be granted by the Board of Zoning
Adjustment for the extension of the time of establishment
and removal of such office.
Model homes may be utilized as temporary real estate
offices as above and may also serve adjacent subdivisions by
the same developer and marketed under the same name.
The number of model homes on an undivided parcel shall be
limited to the lesser of twenty (20) percent of the total
dwelling units identified on the Tentative Subdivision Map
or seven (7) units per subdivision.” (10-2.2306)
Several Specific Plan areas within the City’s sphere of
influence are currently being planned to accommodate future
development. The planning areas encompass approximately
2,000 acres, and provide for approximately 10,500 potential
housing units (see table).
Once the planning process is complete and the areas are
brought into the City (annexed), they will contribute toward
the inventory of vacant land to accommodate anticipated
economic development over the next several years. Several
steps are necessary before the areas are included in the
inventory. Plan components required to bring future planning
areas on-line for development include completion of a
specific plan, Environmental Impact Report, an
Infrastructure Facilities Master Plan (IFMP), a finance
plan, and formation of Capital Facilities District (CFD).
The planning area furthest along in the process is the
Tivoli Specific Plan, a 454 acre site located on the west
side of Roselle Avenue, north of Sylvan Avenue, east of
Oakdale Road and south of future Claratina Avenue. The Draft
Environmental Impact Report and corresponding Specific Plan
have been circulated for public review and comment. The
45-day review period for the Tivoli EIR began on October 12,
2006 and will close on November 27, 2007. Public Hearings on
the project are anticipated to occur in spring of 2007.
The Tivoli Specific Plan will provide a mix of
residential, commercial and office land uses. The planning
area includes a 14-acre school site, and about 30 acres of
parks and open space.
The Department’s Development Center web site celebrated
its one year anniversary in November!
The Development Center web site is designed for the
development community as well as residents looking for
information for a one-time project and features a growing
number of development related topics. Each topic page
provides a subject description of each part of the
development process. In addition each page provides a
step-by-step guide, related forms and handouts and specific
The Development Center also provides several resources
including activity reports for building permit and planning
related activities, fee schedules and links to other
department web sites.
Since its release in November 2005, The Development Center
has provided development information to over 30,000
visitors. On average the web site has approximately 100
visitors per day, with 75% visiting for the first time and
the remaining 25% are return customers. Many visitors have
returned 3 or more times! The average length of stay on the
web site is approximately 9 minutes.
The City has begun the process of a General Plan
“maintenance” update, to include an update of the Master EIR.
The General Plan is the basic policy guidance document for
all growth and development in the City. The Master EIR
streamlines the process of approval for development
projects, as well as City infrastructure projects supporting
development. Master EIR’s require regular updating to keep
The City has contracted with the planning firm of Jones and
Stokes to assist with the General Plan and EIR process and
documents. Two community workshops with the Planning
Commission, and hearings before the Planning Commission and
City Council will provide an opportunity for the public to
Public workshops will be held to discuss the preliminary
draft General Plan/Master EIR update and review of proposed
revisions to the draft. Public workshops are targeted for
the Spring and Summer of 2007.
As a technical or maintenance update, no major revisions are
contemplated. The overall boundaries of the Plan will not be
altered, for instance. The purpose of the update is to
develop new policies, update existing policies, and revise
plan diagrams to reflect current policy direction and the
latest planning information available.
The update will take approximately 18 months to complete,
with adoption targeted for January 2008.
Have Questions about the General Plan?
Contact Patrick Kelly, AICP, Principal Planner, at
209-577-5268, or by email:
The Planning Division staff has recently completed the
first phase of cleaning up the Zoning Code. The purpose of
this effort was to begin implementation of the City’s
Housing Element of the General Plan and to bring the Code
into compliance with certain sections of State law that have
been amended over time.
The recent amendment addresses six areas:
- Second units
The proposed amendments implement and are consistent
with AB 1866, California Government Code §65852.2, and
liberalize the sections dealing with second units.
Second units often serve the housing needs of low-income
The proposed amendment removes the requirement for Board
of Zoning Adjustment review of second units, making the
approval administrative, as required by State law. In
addition, the proposal provides for increased size above
the base allocation if the unit is made affordable, and
provides a relaxation of the parking standards for
- Density Bonus
Depending on the income level, a number of the housing
units constructed under this program could serve to meet
the needs of very low- and low-income households.
The proposed amendments implement and are consistent
with California Government Code §§ 65915 through 65917,
and will result in promotion of the important public
interest of affordable housing. In general, the
code sections now refer to State law.
In addition, this section now specifies the type of
incentives available in conjunction with density bonus
- Parking requirements
Parking requirements for small units and mixed-use
projects incorporating housing.
The amendment provides that projects incorporating
studio and one-bedroom units will have a (reduced)
1-space requirement for those units. It further provides
for mixed-use projects allowing for up to ½ of the
requirement for the residential portion to be satisfied
by the office/commercial portion.
- Residential Care Facilities
The proposed amendment ties the City’s Code to State law
provisions and provides better definition of these
- Model Homes
The Municipal Code currently has no definition of model
The amendment provides a definition and specifies the
number of model homes allowed prior to recordation of a
final map. The number of model homes allowed prior to
recordation of a final map is limited to the lesser of
seven or 20% of the total number of units on the map.
- Satellite antennas
The current Code includes extensive provisions for this
outdated technology (large, 6’-7’ diameter dishes).
The amendment is a clean-up to remove these provisions
Further amendments are in the works.
The Housing Element specifies that the City is to study
and consider amending the Code to eliminate “pyramidal
zoning” (the provision whereby all R-1 uses are allowed in
the R-2 zone, and all R-2 zone uses are allowed in the R-3
zone), and to consider provisions for inclusionary housing.
Regulations for cell towers and other communication
technology are needed. There are numerous minor provisions
that have become outdated and should be amended.
Stay tuned for more updates!
For commercial projects that require review across
department lines, the City now receives plans for all
departments to review at one location: the third floor of
Tenth Street Place. The plans are then delivered to all
reviewing departments and the plan review process is tracked
in our Tidemark system.
By having each department enter this information into a
central data base we are able to report on this activity and
make this report available to our customers in the Reports
section of the City’s Development Center web site.
Another enhancement we are working to implement into our
Tidemark system is Interactive Voice Response (IVR). This
system will allow customers to schedule their inspections
directly via a touch tone phone.
Other features include inspector input capability of
inspection results, as well as the ability to retrieve
inspection results over a touch tone phone. We hope to have
this in place by the middle of 2007.
Our economic development website continues to be an
excellent resource for site selectors of various businesses.
March 2006 was our busiest month with 8,799 visits. In
search engine results, our site is included in over 2,500
business related searches per month.
The Council approved a new marketing plan to target business
retention and expansion of existing businesses, as well as
business attraction. The first step in this marketing plan
is to create a new branding and logo based on our mission
and objectives. The new branding and logo was brought to the
Council for presentation on December 12, 2006.
Downtown Wayfinding Signage
The new wayfinding signage has emerged in the Downtown area.
These helpful signs are intended to direct tourists and
residents to the features in Downtown. The Modesto
Redevelopment Agency designed and paid for the signs.
Locations were recommended by the Citizens Redevelopment
July 25, 2006
Administrative Office Assistant II
Building Safety Division
August 1, 2006
Administrative Analyst I
September 19, 2006
October 17, 2006
The City of Modesto cares about providing the utmost
service to our citizens and customers….you!
We want to hear about your experience while working with
our employees. On the front page of each of our web sites
there is a link to a new Community and Economic Development
You can take the survey by
We hope that you will take the time to complete this
survey and provide us with your feedback, thoughts and
Your feedback will allow us the opportunity to grow and
improve our services to better meet your needs.