Long-Range Planning Initiatives
Updates to General Plan, Zoning, Design Guidelines, Ordinances, etc.


2023-2031 Housing Element Update

www.HOMECarmelbytheSea.com   ”Housing Opportunities Made Easier”

The City is working on updating the Housing Element of the General Plan. State law requires the Housing Element to be updated every eight years to respond to Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) goals. Carmel-by-the-Sea has a RHNA goal of 349 housing units developed over an eight-year period (2023-2031). The City is not responsible for building housing units, but is required to create a plan that enables and incentivizes private development projects. 

A Housing Feasibility Study authored by ECONorthwest, received by the Council on February 7, 2023, will inform the 2023-2031 6th Cycle Housing Element Update. Monterey-based EMC Planning Group, Inc., has been selected as the consultant to update the Housing and Safety Elements of the General Plan. The updated Housing Element is due to the State Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) on December 15, 2023. Failure to meet this obligation risks future State and Federal grant funding and regulatory control over future development including issuance of building permits. 

Mayor Pro Tem Bobby Richards and Councilmember Karen Ferlito comprise the Housing Ad Hoc Committee and will host community meetings regularly throughout 2023. Richards and Ferlito will work with Staff, engage with the community, and bring recommendations to the full City Council. In summer 2023, the Housing Element draft update will be made available for public comment for 30 days, will be reviewed by the Planning Commission and City Council, and will be sent in draft form HCD for a 90-day review period. 

Design Traditions 1.5 Project – Updated Design Guidelines

In January 2018, the City Council authorized staff to initiate a comprehensive update to the City’s Residential and Commercial Zoning Code and Design Guidelines.  The Planning Commission Chair appointed a subcommittee and workshops were held in 2018 and 2019. Work on the project was paused during the pandemic but Nore’ Winter of Winter & Company was contracted in 2022 and the “Design Guidelines 1.5″ effort recommenced.  Through feedback from community meetings, input from an appointed Steering Committee, and public hearings, Draft Guidelines have been produced for public review.   

Relevant documents and recordings can be found below.  


Materials from 2018 and 2019 meetings:

Click here to watch the April 24, 2018 Planning Commission Meeting

City Council Staff Report and Attachments (11/4/19)

Click here to watch 11/4/19 City Council Meeting Presentation

Planning Commission Staff Report and Attachments (08/21/19)

Workshop (06/27/19)

Workshop (12/18/18)  


Materials from Design Traditions 1.5 Project 

5/3/22 City Council Meeting Presentation and Staff Report

Workshop (7/21/22 and 7/22/22,  Advance Questions and Project Summary)

Workshop (10/03/2022, Recording and Project Summary)



Reader's Guide for Draft Design Guidelines

Downtown Design Guidelines - FIRST DRAFT

Residential Design Guidelines - FIRST DRAFT

Historic Context Statement Update

The City’s Historic Context Statement (HCS) is an important tool in evaluating which properties potentially qualify for the City’s Historic Inventory.  In 2022, the City received a $30,000 grant from the California Office of Historic Preservation to extend the HCS to cover a twenty-year period (1968 to 1986).  The updated Historic Context Statement and all relevant materials and drafts can be found below. While the 2022 effort was largely limited to the 1968 to 1986 period, the City is pursuing funding for a “Phase II” update to refresh the entire document. 

Historic Context Statement Final Draft (Tracked Changes) - approved by City Council 12/06/2022
Historic Context Statement Final Draft (Clean) - approved by City Council 12/06/2022


Beach Fire Pilot Program

Components of the City’s Local Coastal Program (LCP), including Title 17 of the Zoning Code and the Coastal Access and Recreation Element, authorize an unlimited number of (wood-fueled) fires on Carmel Beach between 10th Avenue and Martin Way. The Beach Fire Management Pilot Program was adopted by the City Council in June 2016, in response to growing concerns regarding fires on Carmel Beach and associated air quality, aesthetic and public safety impacts.  The Pilot Program expired on September 15, 2021.  The City is in the process of preparing a Local Coastal Program Amendment to make permanent changes to the beach fire rules, which will be informed by the Pilot Program.

Beach Fire Pilot Program

City Council Staff Report – Pilot Program Review (05/07/19)

City Council Staff Report and Attachment – Program Extension (07/03/18)

Climate Action and Adaptation Plans

In June 2019, the City Council adopted the Fiscal Year 2019/20 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which included the Climate Change and Resilience Plan (Plan). The description of the project was to “ascertain impacts of climate change” and “identify and prioritize specific measures to minimize adverse impacts from climate change.”  In August 2019, the City Council opted to have a committee composed of two Council members, two staff members, and up to four members of the public to develop the City’s Plan. Council appointed two Council Members, Mr. Jeff Baron and Ms. Carrie Theis, to lead the committee. Two staff members, Mr. Evan Kort, Associate Planner, and Ms. Agnes Martelet, Environmental Compliance Manager, were appointed to the working group by the City Administrator.  The committee’s mission statement was identified as follows: We will assess the threats and challenges of climate change as they relate to our community by seeking input from experts and local constituents. We will use these inputs to develop actionable plans to mitigate those threats and educate the community.

Workshops were held on a regular basis to discuss the project. All meetings can be viewed here. Final drafts of the Climate Action and Climate Adaptation Plans were adopted by the City Council in July 2022. 

Climate Action Plan 
Climate Adaptation Plan 


Wireless Ordinance

Federal and State laws are increasingly limiting local land-use discretion over wireless communications facilities. Under the Telecommunications Act, local governments retain their authority to regulate wireless facilities as long as the regulations: 1) Do not prohibit or “effectively prohibit” wireless communications facilities; 2) Do not unreasonably discriminate between communications service providers; or, 3) Do not regulate based on potential environmental impacts associated with radio frequency (RF) emissions.  The City is updating its Wireless Telecommunications Ordinance to create the strongest set of regulations that protect the unique character of the Village while remaining in compliance with applicable Federal and State Laws.  

Draft Wireless Ordinance Package for March 15th Planning Commission Workshop:

1 - Reader's Guide (START HERE)
2 -Draft Ordinance Amending Zoning Code Chapter 17.46 (March 2023 Workshop)
3 -Draft Wireless Application Form (March 2023 Workshop)
4 - Draft Wireless Application Checklist for Type I through IV Facilities (March 2023 Workshop)
5 - Draft Wireless Application Checklist for Type V Facilities (March 2023 Workshop)
6 - Draft Detailed Wireless Facility Design Guidelines (March 2023 Workshop)
7 - Draft Required Standard Conditions of Approval for Wireless Facilities (MARCH 2023 Workshop)

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Ordinance

Assembly Bills 68, 587, 671, and 881 and Senate Bill 13 pertain to Accessory Dwelling Units (“ADUs”) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (“JADUs”) and were approved by the California Legislature on September 13, 2019 and signed by the Governor on October 9, 2019. These bills, codified primarily in California Government Code sections 65952.2 and 65952.22, are intended to spur the creation of lower cost housing by easing regulatory barriers to the creation of ADUs and JADUs.  


An ADU is an attached or a detached residential dwelling unit that provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons and is located on a lot with a proposed or existing primary residence. It shall include permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same parcel as the single-family or multifamily dwelling is or will be situated. ADUs have been more commonly referred to in the past as a “Granny Unit” or “Subordinate Unit”.


While all cities in California are required to permit ADUs in any zoning district where single-family and multi-family dwelling are allowed, cities may adopt a local ordinance to address development and design standards.  These standards include, but are not limited to, parking, height, setback, landscape, architectural review, maximum size of a unit. The ordinance, however, must not unduly constrain the creation of ADUs and the approval of the ADU must be considered ministerially (without discretion or public hearing).


The city is currently working to draft a local ordinance to to allow and regulate ADUs and JADUs in compliance with state law.  In the interim, ADUs and JADUs are still permitted and must comply with the regulations outlined in the state law. For additional information please refer to the State Housing and Community Development Handbook on ADUs.


If you are considering an ADU, please first contact the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) to make sure your property has water available for the unit -a kitchen (sink) and bathroom (sink, toilet, and shower and/or tub) are required. 


For additional information, please contact the Community Planning and Building Department at planning@ci.carmel.ca.us or 831-620-2010