County of Marin - News Releases - Development Code Update

For Immediate Release
September 22, 2022

County Works on Update of Development Code

Approach to streamlined housing review process addressed in recent state laws

San Rafael, CA – Changes in federal and state laws often affect what a county government can do. That’s the case in Marin County, where the needs of residents change over time as well. For that reason, the County of Marin updates its Development Code every two to three years to reset the rules on zoning and subdivisions in unincorporated areas outside of the Pacific coastal zone.

Staff from the Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA) is drafting amendments to the code to be presented September 27 to a joint online-only session of the Marin County Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission. Amendments will reflect requirements on state Senate Bill (SB) 9 and SB 35, which address developments that include multifamily housing. In May, the Supervisors adopted three interim ordinances on the topic – intended to be temporary – that streamline the review of certain housing projects and adhere to the new state laws.

CDA is not proposing substantive changes to the requirements previously established by the Board for SB 9 and SB 35 applications being proposed. Provisions of the interim ordinances have been rearranged and carried forward into the draft Development Code.

Generally, the Supervisors and CDA have encouraged development of new affordable homes near existing neighborhoods, schools, business, and transportation options. The state bills, and the Board’s action that sets clear guidelines for the County’s implementation, can help ease the addition of a variety housing to serve Marin’s needs.

With respect to planning, CDA follows a model that communities are best designed when they follow a continuum of land development patterns with rural on one end and urban on the other. The successful and seamless design of a development depends on its position with respect to the community’s outer perimeter and its downtown core. The County’s draft form-based code (FBC) extends from a lower-density edge neighborhood to a higher-density main street core area but does not include the types of high-density housing built in the downtown areas of bigger cities. The proposed FBC zones are intended to promote what are called “missing middle” housing densities between remote rural areas and highly centralized downtown areas.

The FBC was initially developed as a toolkit of objective standards on which several Marin jurisdictions collaborated as part of the SB 2 grant process. Unincorporated Marin County, like some other jurisdictions, worked with a stakeholder committee and customized that toolkit to adopt as part of the development code.

The joint session will be a videoconference starting at 5 p.m. To participate or watch the session, see the Board’s meeting archive webpage.

For disability accommodations, please phone (415) 473-6358 (voice), CA Relay 711, or e-mail the Digital Access staff at least five business days in advance of the event. The County will do its best to fulfill requests received with less than five business days’ notice. Copies of documents are available in alternative formats, upon request.


Jeremy Tejirian
Planning Manager
Community Development Agency

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 308
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-3798
Email: Jeremy Tejirian
Long-Range Planning webpage