Residential Design Guidelines

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Residential Development

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) 

Floor Area Ratio (FAR)

What's New

Have you done a Neighborhood Walk-Shop yet? Get a group together and explore your neighborhood with family and friends to note homes that have great design features, like entry porches or landscaping. Another way to provide input is by adding ideas of your favorite homes to the City's new Pinterest board here. Photos may also be emailed here with a note describing why you like it!

Want to stay informed about single family residential policies, sign up here.

Upcoming Events

September 7, 2019 - Farmers Market at the 500 Block of Arguello Street - Stop by our booth to learn more about the study and provide input!

What are Residential Design Guidelines?

Design guidelines are a set of parameters for overall design, massing, scale, and proportions of single-family homes. They are intended to promote appropriate, high quality site and building design, convey design expectations, and ensure consistent application of those expectations. Specific design elements that may be addressed include building bulk and massing, setbacks, upper story step-backs, façade articulation, roof design, window placement, garage placement, paving, and landscaping. These guidelines would apply to new two-story homes and second-story additions and remodels.

Why is the City developing Residential Design Guidelines?

In response to concerns regarding neighborhood compatibility, the City is preparing a set of design guidelines to ensure that residential single-family additions, remodels, and new homes fit the neighborhood context. The Design Guidelines will let homeowners and designers know what is expected when it comes to overall design, massing, scale, and proportions of single-family homes.

What is the time frame for developing the Guidelines?

The City began this process in June 2019 with a completion goal of June 2020.

 Timeline graphic

The process will result in:

  • An illustrated set of design guidelines that will provide specific guidance to decision-makers, staff, and applicants in the project design and decision-making process.
  • Updated development standards that are consistent with and supportive the Design Guidelines
  • Updated Architectural Permit findings that are consistent with and supportive of the Design Guidelines

How can I Participate?

Neighborhood Walk-Shops

The City created a "walk-shop" for each neighborhood. Residents are encouraged to download a walk-shop, walk around your neighborhood and record designs, streetscapes, architecture, etc. that you think looks good.



Bair Island Mt. Carmel Bair Island Mt. Carmel 
Canyon  Palm Park Canyon Palm Park 
Centennial Redwood Oaks Centennial Redwood Oaks 
Central Redwood Shores Central Redwood Shores 
Downtown  Redwood Village Downtown Redwood Village 
Eagle Hill  Roosevelt Eagle Hill Roosevelt 
Edgewood Park  Stambaugh-Heller Edgewood Park Stambaugh-Heller 
Farm Hill  Woodside Plaza Farm Hill  Woodside Plaza 
Friendly Acres   Friendly Acres  

Once complete, the walk-shop can be emailed to staff, dropped off with your Neighborhood Association Chair, or mailed to City Hall. The walk-shops already have the return address printed on them, so simply fold it in half, add a stamp, and place it in the mail!

Pinterest Board

Another way to provide input is by adding your ideas to the City of Redwood City Residential Design Guidelines Pinterest board here. Users must be signed into an account or create a new account. Once logged into Pinterest, post pins of favorite designs seen around Redwood City, or re-pin other ideas to the board. 

Past Meetings and Events

  • August 28, 2019 - Open House and Joint Study Session with the Planning Commission and Architectural Advisory Committee [notice, presentation]
  • August 13-14 - Information Gathering Sessions


Based on recent community input, Planning Commission concerns, and the City Council comments at July and November 2018 Study Sessions, staff is working on policies related to neighborhood compatibility and the design review process for second-story additions and two-story single-family homes. The three-phase strategy is outlined below:

Immediate (completed): Guiding Principles on the Neighborhood Findings. Status: Council adopted the Guiding Principles on December 3, 2018

Short-Term: Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Amendments creating additional height limitation for ADUs with privacy provisions for exterior balconies and windows. Status: Staff is presenting Planning Commission recommendations for City Council consideration on July 22.

Short-Term: Floor Area Ratio (FAR) Threshold Interim Ordinance requiring Planning Commission review and action if a home size exceeds an established size threshold. Status: Staff is presenting Planning Commission recommendations for Council consideration on August 26.

Long-Term: Residential Design Guidelines and Additional Zoning Regulations for second-story additions and new two-story single-family homes. Status: The City has hired a consultant to assist staff in the community outreach and preparation of residential design guidelines and has initiated the yearlong study. Community outreach will begin this summer (2019).

City Council Phased Approach to Preserve Affordability and Architecture Character of Redwood City Neighborhoods


Frequently Asked Questions


Residential Design Guideline Materials  

Helpful Documents