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Business Planning Made Easy - Signage, Parking & Minor Exception Process
The City is committed to making it easier for businesses to grow and thrive in Pleasant Hill. With this in mind, the City Council has recently approved changes to the City’s zoning ordinance that streamlines and simplifies various business related procedures and applications affecting signage, parking and other zoning issues. The following is a summary of some of the changes recently enacted by the City Council.

SignsSigns
Zoning Administrator Approval
Certain new signs may be approved by the Zoning Administrator, whereas previously all sign requests (except those under a sites master sign program) were reviewed by the Architectural Review Commission. This results in the streamlining of the review and approval process by approximately 3 weeks. (Section18.105.020)

Adjustments to Sign Provisions
A new process that will allow both minor and major revisions through a modified process. Previously, any deviations to sign provisions were processed through a variance. The variance included findings that were often difficult to make and added to the time of the review and approval process. (Section 18.60.090 & 100).

Minor adjustments (up to 20% deviation) are reviewed by the Architectural Review Commission. This removes the additional variance process and allows the City greater flexibility when reviewing deviation requests.

Major adjustments (over 20% deviation) are reviewed by the Planning Commission through a conditional use permit and not a variance process. This allows the City to have greater flexibility when reviewing deviation requests.

Temporary signsTemporary Sign Provisions
Various modifications are proposed to this section largely to streamline, improve readability and clarification to the previous provisions:
  • Window signs exempt from permit review, up to 30% coverage (not including glass doors) and not facing or located in a residential zoning district. (Section 18.60.050.H).
  • Two temporary wall signs are allowed to be displayed at the same time (provided not facing in the same direction); previously only one temporary sign was allowed at any given time. (Section 18.60.055.A).
  • Temporary freestanding “A” frame or “H” frames signage now allowed with a permit (up to 20 days, up to six times per year). Certain design criteria must be met. (Section 18.60.55.B).

Other types of temporary signs that are moving, flashing, animated, searchlight, flag, pennant, streamer, air blown or similar is now allowed with a permit for up to seven days at a time, up to six times a year. Previously, these types of signs were allowed for only five days at a time, for only four times per year. (Section18.60.055.C).

ParkingParking
Parking reductions (up to 15%) may be permitted (by the Zoning Administrator) for sites within a quarter of a mile of regional transit hubs (BART or transit center). This could remove the conditional use permit process for certain parking reductions, thus, streamlining the approval process. This also allows for increased flexibility for project design since the amount of area necessary for parking could end up being reduced. (Section 18.55.180)

Adjustments to Parking Design Provisions. A new procedure that replaces the previous variance process for deviations to parking design provisions.

The Zoning Administrator may approve an adjustment of up to 20% in parking design standards. This removes the variance process for these types of minor modifications, resulting in streamlining of the review process. This also allows for greater flexibility when designing parking lots. (Section 18.55.190.A)

The Planning Commission may approve adjustments of 20% or more to parking design standards through a conditional use permit process. This allows the City greater flexibility (as the previous variance process includes more stringent findings) when reviewing requests to modify parking design provisions. (Section 18.55.190.B)

SetbackNew Minor Exception Process (Chapter 18.11)
A new streamlined process that allows minor exceptions to ordinance requirements over the previous variance requirement. Through a minor exception permit, deviations can now be approved by the Zoning Administrator, whereas previously, these types of requests were processed through a Planning Commission variance process. The following includes some of the deviations allowed through this new process:
  • Maximum increase of 10% for the maximum floor area ratio.
  • Maximum decrease of 20% to minimum planting area or dimensional requirements.
  • Decrease in loading spaces with appropriate justification.
  • Allowing alternative methods of screening mechanical equipment.
  • Allowing up to 20% reduction in yard setbacks (provided a minimum setback remains).

Large Family Day Care
Now permitted without a conditional use permit contingent on compliance with requirements as stated in zoning ordinance, previously the conditional use permit process would add weeks to the permit review process. (Section 18.20.080)