Design Review Process

Carmel-by-the-Sea Department of Community Planning and Building

Design Review

All exterior building alterations require some level of design review. The City has two design review tracks that are discussed below.

Track One: This review track is available for additions and alterations that do not substantially increase the size of buildings and/or include other minor site modifications. Track one projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Building additions and/or alterations that do not increase the existing floor area or building height by 10% or more; 
  • The replacement or installation of windows, skylights and doors;
  • Modifications to exterior materials or minor commercial facade remodels;
  • Modifications to the site coverage and landscaping;
  • The construction of decks, sheds, retaining walls, front-yard fences or any other structures on the property.

Track One applications can typically be approved at the staff level and do not require a formal public hearing. For information on Track One application requirements click the following link: Track One Application Requirements

Track Two: This review track is required for all projects that propose to increase floor area and/or height by 10% or more over existing conditions, demolition and reconstruction and major commercial facade remodels.

Track Two projects require at least one hearing before the Planning Commission. Applicants are required to send out a public notice and install ribbon and height poles on the site as part of the review process.

Preliminary Site Assessment: All projects in the Residential (R-1) District that are proposing to add 200 square feet or more to the site require a Preliminary Site Assessment application. As part of the application, the applicant is asked to submit two copies of a site survey prepared by a licensed engineer or surveyor. City staff then visits the property to evaluate potential issues related to future development and prepares written reccomendations for the applicant related to privacy and view, neighborhood character, mass and bulk, etc. These recommendations are meant to assist in the design of the project.