The Current Planning Section guides the City’s orderly development by applying the zoning code thus achieving a livable city that balances the needs of residents and businesses.
Online Zoning Code
Before you access the online Zoning Code, please read the following information. The Zoning Code describes various types of zoning districts and land use classifications, land use regulations, development standards, and environmental performance standards. The Zoning Code’s purpose is to protect and promote the public’s health, safety, and general welfare, and to implement the policies of the comprehensive General Plan.
This electronic version of the Zoning Code is maintained by the City’s Planning and Development Department. The online code is updated periodically after the Council adopts an amendment to the Zoning Code. To check to see if there are recent changes, please contact the Current Planning Section at (626) 744-4009. The Zoning Administrator has the authority to interpret the Zoning Code. You should check to see if there have been any interpretations issued regarding the sections of the Zoning Code that you are reviewing.
The link to the Zoning Code will take you to the Page of Contents. From that page, there are links to each section of the Zoning Code. Within a section, there may be references to other sections which will be linked. The on-line Zoning Code has a unique feature that links you to the words that are defined in Article 8. You can check to see if a word is defined by moving the cursor over that particular word. If the word turns green and is underlined, a partial definition of the word shows up in a pop-up box. The word is linked to a definition and you can click it to read the entire definition.
Planner of the Day
Pasadena’s zoning designation are divided between residential (R) districts and commercial districts (C or I).
- A land use regulation designator (i.e. RS, RM, CG, etc.), indicating the principal land uses permitted or conditionally permitted in each district, is a component of all zoning designations.
- A residential units/acre designator (i.e. 16, 32, 48 units per acre), indicating permitted dwelling unit densities exclusive of any bonuses, is a required component of all residential zoning designations.
- A CD, ECSP, EPSP, FGSP, or WGSP indicates applicable Specific Plan designation and is a required component of all such zoning designations.
- Overlay district designators shall be included in a zoning designation if the provisions of one or more overlay districts are applicable to a site.
|Zoning District Symbol||Zoning District Name||General Plan Land Use Classification Implemented by Zoning District|
|RS-1 – RS-6||Single-Family Residential||Low-Density Residential|
|RM-12||Multi-Family Residential – Two Units Per Lot||Low-Medium Density Residential|
|RM-16||Multi-Family Residential – City of Gardens||Medium Density Residential|
|RM-32||Multi-Family Residential – City of Gardens||Medium-High Density Residential|
|RM-48||Multi-Family Residential – City of Gardens||High Density Residential|
|Commercial and Industrial Districts|
|CO||Commercial Office||General Commercial|
|CL||Limited Commercial||Neighborhood Commercial|
|CG||General Commercial||General Commercial|
|Special Purpose Districts|
|OS||Open Space||Open Space|
|PS||Public and Semi-Public||Institutional|
|HL-1||Height Limit||Multi-family Residential|
|ND||Neighborhood||Low Density Residential|
|OC||Office Conversion||Multi-family Residential|
|SS||Specialty Shop Overlay District||Residential|
|Specific Plan Areas|
|See Article 3 – Specific Plan Standards|
Permits, Applications, Forms
All applications must be filled out completely and submitted to the Permit Center with applicable fees. The Master Application is required for all legislative applications. If your project requires more than one legislative application, you only fill out the Master Application once, and fill out all supplemental applications as required. There are two versions of the Master Application, the long form which includes the Environmental Assessment Supplement questions for environmental impact review and the short form, which is a single page.
About The Environmental Review Process
In 1970, the California State Legislature adopted the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to establish a procedure for evaluating the environmental effects of proposed projects (both public and private). CEQA is used to eliminate or reduce any significant adverse impacts which could occur from an approved project.
Environmental review is required for most discretionary actions including street vacations, use permits/ minor use permits, variances/ minor variances, sign exceptions, tract and parcel maps and design review and for legislative actions including zone changes, general plan amendments, and code amendments. The environmental review occurs while the application is processed. A decision is made on the environmental determination before a decision is made on the legislative or discretionary application.
In addition to the requirements of CEQA, the City of Pasadena has adopted additional environmental standards that are contained in the Environmental Policy Guidelines. These guidelines provide specific standards for the City’s environmental review process.
When you receive your application forms for your legislative or discretionary review, you will be given an Environmental Assessment Form (EAF). You submit this completed form with the required exhibits when you submit your application for a legislative or discretionary action. Some projects are exempt from CEQA. This determination may be made at the time you submit your application.
Staff has 30 days to review your application and determine its completeness. If all information has not been provided, staff will send you a letter outlining those items that must be completed. Occasionally a more thorough review of your project could result in a change to the environmental determination. The environmental determination covers all the legislative discretionary actions of your project.
If your project is not exempt, staff will prepare an Initial Study (IS). The City has annually adjusted fees for covering environmental processing. Staff has another 30 days from the time the application is considered complete to prepare the Initial Study.
Under CEQA, the Initial Study (IS) analyzes the proposed project and is used to determine whether or not there are adverse impacts on the environment. This 30 day review process and preparation of the Initial Study involve a full assessment of the potential effects of a project on the environment.
- Agricultural Resources
- Air Quality
- Biological Resources
- Cultural Resources
- Geology and Soils
- Hazards and Hazardous Materials
- Hydrology and Water Quality
- Land Use and Planning
- Mineral Resources
- Population and Housing
- Transportation and Traffic
- Utilities and Services
- Mandatory Findings of Significance
Upon completion of the IS, it will be circulated to interested parties and related agencies for their comment. Staff will then make an initial environmental determination of your project’s impacts.
There are three possible determinations:
- a Negative Declaration (a statement that there are no environmental impacts);
- a Negative Declaration with Mitigation Measures (a statement that there are potential impacts that can be reduced to a minimum through the adoption of requirements or conditions); or
- that your project requires an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) because potential significant impacts can not be reduced to an insignificant level.
In order for staff to fully evaluate the potential environmental impacts of a project, certain studies may be required in order to complete the Initial Study (IS). Such studies may include a traffic/parking study, an air quality study, geology and soils study, biological resources survey, etc. Prior to commencing work on the initial study, planning staff will evaluate the project and work with the applicant to determine what studies (if any) are needed.
A “Negative Declaration” is a statement that your project will have no significant impact on the environment. However, sometimes a proposed project could have a negative effect on the environment. Many effects or impacts can be mitigated, if conditions are required that reduce the impact to a level of insignificance. These conditions or requirements are adopted as mitigation measures and conditions of approval, if the project is approved.
A project with mitigation measures is referred to as having a “Negative Declaration with mitigation measures.” By State law, Negative Declarations are available for public review and comment for 20 days prior to a public hearing when a legislative or discretionary action is taken.
Environmental Impact Report
If during the Initial Study process, staff determines that some of the impacts cannot be mitigated to a level of insignificance, they will recommend to the Environmental Administrator that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) be prepared.
The cost of preparing an EIR and the cost of staff’s time is the responsibility of the applicant. EIRs are prepared by the consultants chosen by and on contract with the City. The draft EIR is circulated to interested parties and related agencies for review and comment for not less than 30 days.
A public hearing is held on the adequacy of the EIR, usually at the time the legislative or discretionary application is acted upon. Before the City approves a project with an EIR, it will certify that the EIR is adequate. The review body will also review alternatives to the project which reduce the environmental effects.
When your project goes before a review body, it adopts the environmental determination and adopts mitigation measures either from an EIR or from a negative declaration with mitigation measures. These mitigation measures are adopted with a “Mitigation Monitoring Reporting Program (MMRP)” and become conditions of approval.
The MMRP outlines how the City will monitor the mitigation measures over the life of the use or building. The City develops the program, you are required to sign the program and to meet with the Mitigation Monitoring staff prior to obtaining any building permits to ensure the implementation of the program.
After The Hearing
If your project application is approved and was not exempt from CEQA, staff prepares a Notice of Determination which is a CEQA requirement. This determination, along with the Negative Declaration or Statement of Overriding Considerations, Certificate of Exemption from State Fish and Game Fees or State Fish and Game fees and processing fees for the County is filed by the City staff with the County, where it is made available for review.
Approval of your project’s Notice of Determination is not final until the appropriate California Fish and Game Fees have been paid. Filing of the Notice of Determination or Notice of Exemption with the County starts a 30-35 day limit for legal action against a project’s approval based on the environmental determination.
If your project application is not approved, you may appeal the project decision and/or the environmental determination to the appropriate appeal body. The appeal period for a project varies depending on the type of decision. You should check with the department that reviewed your application to determine the appeal period and to request an appeal application. A decision by the Environmental Administrator may be appealed by any interested party to the Board of Zoning Appeals or called up for review by the Planning Commission.
Read Title 16 of the Pasadena Municipal Code regarding subdivisions.
Go to Title 16 of PMC
What Is A Subdivision?
A subdivision is any division of land into two or more parcels. All divisions of land, including the creation of air parcels for condominium purposes, are regulated by the State Subdivision Map Act. The Subdivision Map Act establishes the time period for a subdivision map to be recorded or expired. A tentative parcel map and a tentative tract map are both reviewed and approved by the Hearing Officer. A subdivision may be achieved by one of the following methods :
a. Tentative Parcel Maps A division of land into four or fewer parcels requires a tentative parcel map.
b. Tentative Tract Maps A division of land into five or more parcels requires a tentative and a final tract map. A tentative map is made for the purpose of showing the design and improvement of a proposed subdivision (The map need not be based on a detailed survey). However, a tentative map must comply with all requirements contained in Title 16, of the Pasadena Municipal Code.
c. Vesting Maps A vesting map grants vested rights to proceed with a project in accordance with the ordinances, polices and standards in effect at the time the application for approval of the vesting tentative map is completed. A tentative tract map or parcel map may be filed as a vesting map. The map act requires the subdivider to print “Vesting Tentative Map” conspicuously on the face of the map.
What Is A Lot Line Adjustment (Certificate Of Exception)?
A Certificate of Exception (lot Line adjustment) is the method by which a property line may be moved. between two or more adjacent parcels. The property line adjustment shall not create more lots than those that already exists.
What Is The Subdivision Process?
All subdivision requests are heard by the Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer has the authority to make decisions on Parcel and Tract maps, Vesting Maps, and Certificates of Exception (lot line adjustments). The Hearing Officer meets three times a month to hear cases.
The decisions of the Hearing Officer are appealable to the Board of Zoning Appeals. Appeals of a tract or parcel map must be filed within 10 days of the date of the Hearing Officer decision. Subdivision appeals are filed at the Permit Center. There is a fee for filing an appeal.
What Is The Environmental Review Requirement For Subdivisions?
In all subdivision requests, the Subdivision Division Committee must adopt or acknowledge an Environmental Determination. Some subdivision requests are exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). However, for those subdivision requests which are not exempt, an Initial Environmental Study must be completed. An environmental determination is made based on the Initial Environmental study which analyzes a wide range of potential environmental impacts. The Hearing Officer must adopt an environmental determination based on the findings of the Initial Environmental Study. The Hearing Officer must approve a Negative Declaration (a statement that there is not significant environmental impact) or, a Negative Declaration with Mitigation Measures (a statement that there are some potential impacts), but conditions of approval will significantly reduce these impacts; or, certify an Environmental Impact Report when there are significant impact created which cannot be mitigated.
- Consult the staff at the Hale Building Permit Center, Current Planning window and obtain a subdivision application.
- Obtain a tentative map number from the Los Angeles County Public Works Department. This number should be stamped on each set of maps.
- Submit the subdivision application at the Hale Building Permit Center, Current Planning window . A public hearing to consider the subdivision application will be held by the Hearing Officer approximately two to three months after the application is deemed complete. The length of time varies depending on the environmental determination.
- After approval by the Hearing Officer prepare a final map which incorporates conditions of approval imposed by the Hearing Officer.
- Submit the final map to Los Angeles County Public Works Department for review. The final map must be prepared under the direction of a registered civil engineer or a licensed land surveyor and be based on an accurate survey.
- Submit the final map to the Pasadena Public Works Department for final review and approval. All final maps in which five or more parcels are created are submitted to City Council for final review and approval.
- Upon approval of the final map by the City Council (for parcel maps the Pasadena Department ofPublic Works and Transportation makes the final approval) submit the final map to the Los Angeles County Public Works Department for recordation.
What Is Planned Development?
The Planned Development (PD) District, is a unique zoning tool to implement the objectives and policies of the General Plan. Information regarding the General Plan is available in the Planning and Development Department, Community Planning Section at 175 North Garfield Avenue or by calling (626) 744-4009.
The PD District provides a unique approach for developing large parcels of land with a minimum site area of 2 acres. The PD district is intended to ensure orderly planning and quality urban design that will be in harmony with the existing or potential development of the surrounding neighborhood. The Planned Development District is a specially tailored zoning district which designates the zoning regulations for the accompanying project, sets specific development standards, and ensures that zoning and the General Plan are consistent. Commercial, residential, or industrial property may be considered for a Planned Development District.
What Do I Do First?
Consult the staff in the Community Planning Section if you are interested in applying for a Planned Development District. A planner will help you find out the zoning and General Plan designations of the project site. You will be provided information on the City’s land use regulations and objectives and policies of the General Plan. The Planner will also help you understand the City’s review and approval procedure, and assist you with the application process. The planner will discuss the importance of meeting with the neighborhood that will be affected by your proposal.
A meeting to discuss your project with the surrounding neighborhood is required before you submit a formal application. You are encouraged to seek comments from the residents and work with them to resolve any conflicts on the design of your project, traffic, noise, use of the site or any impacts specifically related to your project. The City’s Neighborhood Connections office and the Community Planning Section can provide you with further assistance to help you conduct and effective meeting.
Unless otherwise waived, all applicants are required to go through Pre-Development Plan Review (PPR). The primary purpose of this step is to familiarize you with City regulations and concerns of City departments.
When Do You Apply For A Planned Development District?
You can apply for a Planned Development District for a variety of reasons. You may want to propose a project in an area of the City where the zoning district does not offer the flexibility to pursue a unique development on the site which meets the objectives and policies of the Land Use Element of the General Plan. For example, the Planned Development District could allow you greater freedom in establishing building setbacks or selecting an alternative means to provide parking or access to the project site subject to certain conditions. This planning approach can provide creative flexibility to your project design, however it is not intended to circumvent the requirements set forth in the Zoning Ordinance and administrative procedures.
Who May File?
Any one of the following may file an application for a Planned Development District:
- The property owner.
- The authorized agent in writing.
- The Planning Commission.
- The City Council.
What Do I Need To Do To File An Application?
Application forms can be obtained from the Community Planning Section at 175 North Garfield Avenue. The complete application submittal consists of the following:
- General Information Application and Supplemental Application
- Notification Materials.
- Environmental Assessment Form.
- A map showing the location, street address, and assessor’s parcel number (APN) of the property that is the subject of the Planned Development District, and surrounding properties within 300 feet of the project site.
- Minutes of the Concept Plan Review meeting, or proof of waiver.
- A map showing all surrounding uses and structures within a 500 foot radius of the district boundaries.
- A map or aerial photograph of the proposed Planned Development District showing topographic data and the location of existing development.
- The proposed pattern of land use with acreage and residential density computations ( if applicable ).
Are There Any Fees And What To They Cover?
There is a flat fee to cover the cost of processing your application as well as additional fees for environmental review. Depending on whether or not your project needs a more extensive environmental review, there may be additional fees. The fees are reviewed yearly and may be adjusted by the City Council. Consult a planner in the Community Planning Section for further details on specific application deposits and fees.
What Is The Process After An Application Is Filed?
After we have received your application for a Planned Development District, the Community Planning Section will determine if the application is complete. Staff will complete the review of the application within 30 days after you have filed the application. If your application is deemed incomplete, staff will send a letter to you detailing a list of items necessary to complete the application. Once your application is deemed complete, you will be notified, and the Community Planning staff will initiate the environmental review.
In addition to your discussing the project with the neighborhood, the Community Planning Section will hold a neighborhood meeting after you file a formal application, to ensure that issues important to the neighborhood have been identified and addressed. If any unresolved or new issues arise that need to be mediated between you and the neighborhood, the Community Planning Section will hold additional meetings.
Depending on the nature of your development project, additional review may be necessary. It may be required to go through Design Commission and Historic Preservation Commission review. Contact Design & Historic Preservation at 175 North Garfield Avenue at (626) 744-4009.
Following the neighborhood meetings, a staff report is prepared on your proposed Planned Development District, including a review of the required environmental documentation; an analysis of the planning issues including a discussion of the consistency of the project with the objectives and policies of the General Plan; the neighborhood meetings and a recommendation based on the staff analysis and public input.
Planning Commission Hearing
Once the report is completed, the Community Planning staff will notice a public hearing before the Planning Commission. At the Planning Commission hearing, the staff will make a brief presentation and then you will be given an opportunity to comment on the project. An opportunity will then be given to citizens to speak in favor or opposition or simply comment on the project. Following this segment of the public hearing, you will be offered a final opportunity to speak to the Planning Commission.
At the conclusion of the hearing the Planning Commission can either recommend approval of the proposed project, continue the project until further information is presented, modify the project or deny the project. If the project is approved, staff will schedule it for a noticed public hearing before the City Council.
City Council Hearing
The City Council meeting will also be noticed. At the hearing, public testimony will again be received in the same manner it was received before the Planning Commission. At the conclusion of the public hearing, the City Council will make the final decision on your project. The City Council can either approve the project with or without modifications, continue the project until further information is presented, refer the project back to the Planning Commission for further review, or deny the project.
When Does The Approved Planned Development Become Effective?
Planned Development Districts are adopted by Ordinance. The City Attorney will prepare the Ordinance. The City Clerk will then place the Ordinance on the City Council agenda for first and second reading. Typically the Ordinance is published in a newspaper of general circulation and becomes effective 30 days following publication.