Commercial Design Standards Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What is the Community Design Standards Project?

The Community Design Standards Project is a community-based planning effort that will result in comprehensive objective design regulations for commercial and multi-family residential projects in the County's four Community Regions (Shingle Springs, Diamond Springs/El Dorado, El Dorado Hills and Cameron Park). The standards will address all aspects of construction and site design, and document architectural themes rooted in each community's building tradition. They will also provide conceptual site designs to demonstrate how the standards can be applied to the different kinds of sites present in the community and include objective performance standards (e.g. specific paint colors, minimum number and type of windows per building frontage, number and type of landscaping plantings to screen exterior walls, etc.) to assist staff and developers with implementing the approved standards.

The project will be led by El Dorado County Long Range Planning staff and award-winning design consultants Mintier Harnish and the Orr Design Group.   


Why is the County Undertaking the Project?

The County is undertaking the project to implement El Dorado County General Plan policy direction toprepare design standards/guidelines for the communities that are developed in collaboration with communitymembers and seek to identify, maintain, and enhance the community’s character and unique identity. Bydefining the community’s aesthetic preferences for commercial and multi-family residential development, thecommunity can achieve greater certainty that future development will positively contribute to communities’character and identity. The project builds upon the County’s previous efforts to create and implement acommunity-based planning process framework. Specifically, the project utilizes the approach described inthe County’s Community Planning Guide. The County is also embarking on the effort to help simplify andexpedite the project review process. This will reduce project costs and encourage development that willbenefit the community, including residential projects that satisfy the unmet demand for multi-family housing.


Will the New Design Standards be Mandatory?

Yes. This project focuses on the creation of objective design standards, binding regulations that future commercial and multi-family residential projects in each Community Region must meet. Once standards are adopted for each Community Region, new commercial and multifamily development will be required to comply with that community's design standards. Until such time as design standards are adopted, new commercial and multifamily residential development will be required to be consistent with current zoning regulations and applicable provisions of state law.


How will the New Commercial/Multi-Family Residential Design Standards be Used?

The County’s new Commercial and Multi-Family Residential Design Standards will be utilized by both developers and members of the public to understand the County’s expectations for commercial and multi-family residential development. The new standards will be implemented by County staff (e.g. Building and Planning Division) who will review submitted development plans and verify that such plans are consistent with the adopted standards.



What is the Project Schedule?

The Board of Supervisors initiated this project in 2019. The initial Shingle Springs’ component will be completed first, while the remainder of the project will be completed for the other identified communities.  Targeted completion dates and public engagement opportunities will be posted to this webpage as they are developed.  Key project components include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Interim Objective Design Standards - Based on feedback from the public and decision-makers, the County will provide temporary objective design standards for new commercial and multifamily development on the County's West Slope while the County is processing detailed objective design standards for each of the County's West Slope Community Regions.  

  • Existing Conditions - The County will analyze the General Plan, the Zoning Ordinance, the County and the communities’ existing design standards and guidelines, and other background resources, along with development in the communities’ commercial and multi-family residential areas, to gain an understanding of the existing policy and regulatory framework and each community’s current state of development.

  • Outreach Step 1 - The County will meet with the communities’ Community Advisory Group (CAT), stakeholders, members of the public, the Planning Commission, and the Board of Supervisors (Board) to identify the key issues and aesthetic and character preferences that the standards and guidelines should address.

  • Development of objective design standards for commercial and multi-family projects in each Community Region, as specified in detail in the project scope.

  • Outreach Step 2 - The County will present and the receive the public’s input on the Public Review Draft Design Guidelines Standards at open house-style workshops.

  • Adoption - The County will finalize the Design Standards/Guidelines, complete the necessary environmental review analysis, and present the documents to the Planning Commission and Board for adoption.


How can I Participate in Project’s Planning Process?

As a community-based planning process, the Design Standards/Guidelines’ outreach process includes a variety of opportunities and ways for the public to participate. See the list below for the project’s various types of outreach activities. Please take advantage of these many opportunities to learn, provide input, and help create standards and guidelines that perpetuate desirable commercial and multi-family development in your community.

  • Community Advisory Team

For each community, the County will organize a CAT, comprising residents, property and business owners, employees, development professionals, and other interested parties, to provide detailed input on drafting of the design standards/guidelines. 

  • Public Workshops

Public workshops will be held to receive community input on a customized set of draft design standards for each Community Region.  At each workshop, staff and design consultants will receive input on architectural theme, character, and community-specific building and site design preferences.  For details, please check the project webpage for updated information.

  • Planning Commission and Board Meetings

The County will conduct public hearings and workshops before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to consider the Design Standards. Community members are encouraged to attend these meetings.

  • Public Review Draft Design Standards

Public Review Draft Design Standards will be made available to the public for review and feedback before each set of design standards is completed and prepared for final adoption.



Why Should I Participate?

El Dorado County is committed to involving the community in the planning process. The Design Standards process provides residents, business and property owners, development professionals, and other interested parties the chance to help define each communities’ desired character, architectural themes, and development characteristics that the design standards will be based upon. The project will reflect the communities’ preferences, and staff and design consultants believe each citizen's voice is vital to identifying the key issues and aesthetic and character preferences that the standards should address.


How Will My Feedback be Used?

Public input from every engagement activity will be meticulously reviewed and documented to ensure County staff and decision-makers have a full understanding of public sentiment when developing the design standards. To best ensure that the project reflects the communities’ priorities and preferences, public feedback will be considered throughout the process.


How can I Stay Informed About Participation Opportunities and the Project’s Process?

Visit the project webpage to learn more about the project, view the dates of upcoming meetings and public workshops and review meeting materials and draft documents. There will be many opportunities for public participation throughout the process. All public meetings, workshops, and draft standards documents will be posted on the webpage as information becomes available. To receive project updates, interested parties may also sign up for the project's email list on the link provided at the top of the project webpage.