About the Planning Commission

Community Development Agency
Planning Commission


The Planning Commission is composed of seven residents of Marin County who have been appointed by the Board of Supervisors. The Planning Commission serves as an advisory body to the Board of Supervisors on planning policies and regulations and also renders decisions on appeals of planning permits.

The Planning Commission makes its decisions and recommendations at public hearings that are generally scheduled on the second and fourth Mondays of the month. If you would like to learn more about Planning Commission hearings, or specific items on the Commission's agenda, please navigate to the Planning Commission Hearings page.


How can I find out about upcoming Planning Commission meetings?

Regular meetings of the Planning Commission are held on the second and fourth Mondays of the month. The Planning Commission meeting agenda is posted at the Marin County Civic Center-Administration Building adjacent to Room 308, at the Hall of Justice Lobby and on the Community Development Agency's Planning Commission Hearings web site. In addition, development projects and other zoning permits included on the meeting agenda are noticed to surrounding property owners who live within a minimum of 300 feet of the project site.

Planning Commission Calendar

What types of projects are considered by the Planning Commission?

The Planning Commission considers a broad range of land use plans and projects in the unincorporated County at noticed public hearings. Some types of development projects are required by the County Zoning Code (Title 22) to be reviewed and acted on by the Planning Commission. For example, the Planning Commission must make formal recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for adoption and update of the County’s general plan (The Marin Countywide Plan), community plans, and the Zoning Code (Title 22). Similarly, the Planning Commission makes recommendations to the Board of Supervisors regarding approval of certain types of development projects, such as Rezonings and Master Plans. Other types of projects can be acted on directly by the Planning Commission such as subdivisions, precise development plans, and appeals of decisions on zoning and land use applications made by either the Deputy Zoning Administrator or the Community Development Director. The Community Development Agency may also refer a development project to the Planning Commission if it has generated a substantial amount of controversy in the community or if it involves an important policy issue.

How are Planning Commission meetings conducted?

Land use and zoning matters are considered by the Planning Commission according to their place on a predetermined meeting agenda. The meeting agenda includes an estimate of the time of day that each hearing item will be heard by the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission will not take up an item for consideration prior to the scheduled time shown on the meeting agenda. However, some hearing items may commence later than the scheduled time if one or more of the preceding hearing items extends beyond the allotted time estimate. Once a project has been noticed to the public and announced on a published meeting agenda, any request for a continuance of the public hearing will be considered by the Planning Commission at the scheduled hearing.

The basic protocol for a Planning Commission hearing is described in the Planning Commission Protocols and normally takes place in the following sequence:

Initial Transactions. The Planning Commission approves minutes and resolutions from previous hearings, discloses pertinent communications, receives the Director’s Report (informational briefings on upcoming agenda items and other matters of interest to the Planning Commission), and conducts open time for public expression on items that are not on that day’s agenda.

Introduction. The Chairperson of the Planning Commission (Chairperson) will begin the meeting by announcing the name of the project or matter to be heard and request that all members of the public wishing to speak fill out a "Request to Speak" form (pink slip) and turn it into the Planning Commission Secretary.

Staff Presentation. The Chairperson will request that a staff member present a summary of the staff report (staff reports are available online on the Planning Commission website, hard copies are available at the hearing and at the Community Development Agency Planning Division office prior to the meeting). Staff concludes their report by making a recommendation based upon findings required by law. The Planning Commission then has the opportunity to ask questions of staff related to the hearing item and/or the staff recommendation.

Public Hearing. The Chairperson will open the public hearing by giving the project applicant the opportunity to make a presentation of up to ten minutes. If the hearing item involves an appeal of a zoning and development permit, the appellant is similarly given ten minutes to make an initial presentation followed by the applicant. The applicant's or appellant's time may be shared by a property owner and his or her consultants (e.g., architect, engineer, attorney, etc.). After the applicant (and appellant, for an appeal hearing) has made his/her presentation, the Chairperson will invite testimony from anyone else in the audience. Public testimony is normally limited to three minutes for each speaker in order to complete the hearing in a timely manner. Each speaker is given one opportunity to address the Planning Commission. This means that multiple testimony and rebuttals will not be allowed unless specifically permitted by the Planning Commission. Any questions of the Planning Commission, staff or those giving testimony should be addressed through the Chairperson, who may call upon the appropriate person to respond.

Planning Commission Decision. Once the public testimony portion of the hearing is closed, the Planning Commissioners will discuss the hearing item, possibly ask additional questions of staff, and express their opinions. The Planning Commission will then make a decision on the hearing item that may follow the staff recommendation, modify the staff recommendation, or differ substantially from the staff recommendation. In some cases, a hearing item may be continued to a future meeting to allow for the submittal of additional information, further analysis, or to provide an applicant with the opportunity to revise a proposal to respond to issues of concern to the Planning Commission. If an item is continued and you cannot appear at the continued hearing, you may write a letter to the Planning Commission indicating your concerns or other points and whether you support or oppose the proposal. A copy of the final decision by the Planning Commission and minutes of the hearing are available on the Planning Commission Hearings web page.

How should I prepare for a Planning Commission meeting?

Your presentation or comments should be concise and well organized to stay within the allotted time for testimony. It is not necessary to provide testimony verbally that you have already provided in writing. Pay close attention to the issues presented in the staff report and discussed by the Planning Commission. This will help you organize your concerns and make your points effectively. Please refrain from giving unrelated testimony or repeating of points raised by other speakers, and direct your comments to the decision you wish the Planning Commission to reach.

Decisions of the Planning Commission must be made on the basis of information available to the commissioners and the public. Therefore, permit applicants and interested parties and their representatives are advised not to discuss with commissioners any matters relating to a project outside of the public hearing. Such contacts may jeopardize the fairness of the hearing. Similarly, written materials should not be mailed or delivered directly to commissioners because they won't be accepted or considered as part of the administrative record for the project. Written materials for the Planning Commission should be submitted to the Community Development Agency at least 10 days prior to the meeting date so they can be distributed with the staff report. You do have the option of submitting written materials at the hearing instead of or in addition to providing verbal testimony. However, every effort should be made to submit written comments as far in advance of the Planning Commission meeting date as possible to allow enough time for careful review of the material. You should submit at least ten copies of written materials for the Planning Commissioners and staff.

How does the Planning Commission prepare for a meeting?

Planning Commissioners prepare for meetings by carefully reviewing the staff report and other information in the County's administrative record. They also visit the property, which is the subject of a hearing, in advance of the meeting to familiarize themselves with the site and its surroundings. For some projects, an organized field trip for the Planning Commission may be conducted prior to the hearing. Field trips are not public meetings or hearings and the Planning Commissioners do not accept testimony during their visits to a project site to ensure an open and fair public hearing process. Contact with Planning Commissioners at the project site is limited to staff and/or the applicant providing factual descriptions regarding the property or project.

Are the decisions made by the Planning Commission final?

Decisions made by the Planning Commission are not necessarily final insofar as they can be appealed to the Marin County Board of Supervisors within a limited time frame. In order for someone to appeal a decision of the Planning Commission, he/she must file an appeal form stating his/her objections to the decision and a filing fee to the Marin County Community Development Agency. The appeal form and fee must be filed no later than the tenth business day (fifth business day for properties in the coastal zone) following the Planning Commission’s final decision. The Board of Supervisors will normally consider the appeal at a noticed public hearing no later than its eighth weekly meeting following the filing of the appeal. The Community Development Agency Planning Division staff represents the Planning Commission at the Board of Supervisors hearing of the appeal.

What more can I learn about Planning Commission membership?

Composition: Seven members appointed by the Board of Supervisors, consisting of one member from each of the five supervisorial districts, and two at-large members.

Term Length: 4-year term for each Supervisorial District representative; 2-year term for each at-large representative.

Reimbursements For Expenses/Per Diem: $100 per diem per meeting is authorized.

How To Apply: Applications may be obtained from the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, Room 329, Administration Building, Marin Civic Center (415-473-7331), or access the General Application online.

Members of Planning Commission

How can I contact the Planning Commission?

Planning Commission Secretary
Community Development Agency
3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 308
San Rafael, CA 94903

Email: planningcommission@marincounty.org.

Tel: (415) 473-6278