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Development Code Basics

A Development Code (also known as a Zoning Code, Zoning Ordinance, or Land Use Code) is a set of regulations and guidelines that govern the physical development of land. It outlines the rules and standards for land use, zoning, building design, construction, and other aspects of urban and rural development. Development codes also classify land into zones (also known as districts). These zones define land by use type (e.g., residential, commercial, industrial, agriculture). By classifying land by these broad categories, the City can assign specific development standards (e.g., lot size, building height, yard setbacks), to maintain compatible and consistent development within a given area. These standards emphasize the importance of the interaction between building facades, site plans, public spaces, and neighboring development.

As required by State law, the Arroyo Grande Development Code includes allowed land uses and development standards linked to and consistent with the General Plan goals, policies, and programs. It is through this link that the land uses, and development standards establish the basis for project approval and the entitlement process. The Development Code regulates, among many things, allowed land uses, density, lot size, building height, yard setback, parking, landscaping, and signs.

Over time, it is essential that municipalities revisit the standards and regulations in development codes. By revising and updating its Development Code, Arroyo Grande will ensure its regulations reflect community values and expectations.

How do Development Codes Work?

Land Use Planning

Development codes help communities plan for the appropriate use of land, ensuring that different areas are designated for residential, commercial, industrial, or other specific purposes. This helps create organized and functional communities.

Zoning and Density

Development codes establish zoning regulations, determining how properties can be used, the size and type of structures allowed, and the density of development. This ensures that neighborhoods have a consistent character and function, and it can help manage population growth.

Building and Design Standards

Development codes establish guidelines for building design, construction materials, setbacks, heights, parking requirements, and other factors that affect the appearance and functionality of structures. This helps maintain a cohesive aesthetic and ensures that buildings are safe and durable.

Environmental Protection

Development codes include provisions to protect natural resources (i.e., creek setbacks, glare reduction requirements to prevent light pollution) manage stormwater runoff and promote sustainable development practices. This helps preserve the environment and create more resilient communities.

Public Safety

Development codes include regulations related to fire safety, accessibility, and other factors that ensure the safety of residents and visitors.

Community Character

Development codes can help maintain the unique character and identity of a community by preserving historic structures, promoting appropriate architectural styles, and guiding development to fit within the overall vision of the area.

A development code works at different scales:
the building scale,
the neighborhood scale,
and the city scale.

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