City of Red Bluff Seal
Planning Department - Regulations
Design Review Guidelines - Vol. 1 Non Historic


  1. Introduction
  2. Design Review Process
  3. Planning Commission & Technical Advisory Committee
  4. Project Review
  5. General Criteria
  6. Building Design
  7. Site Planning
  8. Landscaping
  9. Signs
  10. How the Process Works
  11. Appeals
  12. Meetings
  13. Staff Reports
  14. Application and Approval Expiration
  15. Removing Structures
  16. Construction Activity
  17. Plans
  18. Schematic Plans
  19. Final Plans
  20. Fees
  21. Adoption History
  22. Trash Bin & Recycling Area Enclosure Standards

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The City of Red Bluff has a unique small-town charm. Many of its wide tree-shaded streets are lined by large majestic Victorian homes. The Central Business District has many attractive two-story brick buildings of nineteenth century architecture. The Sacramento River meandering through town together with the surrounding mountains provide a spectacular natural setting with a serene rural atmosphere.

In 1980, the City Council, together with citizens within the community, became concerned about preserving the charm of the City. Out of this concern, the Planning process emerged.

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Design Review Process

The design review process is separate from other procedures that might be necessary for a project such as use permit, rezoning, variance, or building permit. It is a process to review project design elements including architecture, aesthetics, landscaping, site planning, and harmony with the surrounding neighborhood.

No attempt will be made to dictate styles of architecture; however, the project must fit its location and function. In the design review process, attention will be given to the aesthetics of a project as it might be judged by the passer-by, the neighbor, or the visitor to the project.

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Planning Commission & Technical Advisory Committee

By Ordinance No. 846 the City Council has charged the Planning Commission, the Technical Advisory Committee, and staff with the task of assuring that proposed development projects maintain a pleasant and harmonious environment, promote and enhance real property values, and preserve and enhance the visual character of the City of Red Bluff.

The Planning Commission:


  1. Develops and updates design guidelines and regulations to be used by persons planning a construction project.
  2. Reviews specific projects at the request of the City Council, City Commissions, the Technical Advisory Committee, the developer or property owner.
  3. Provides interpretations of the Design Review Guidelines.
  4. Hears Appeals to decisions made by the Technical Advisory Committee.


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Project Review


  1. All projects within the city which require a permit from the Community Development Department must conform to these Guidelines except those listed in subsection 3 below.
  2. Review by the Technical Advisory Committee is required for all projects which require a Building, Sign, Demolition or Grading Permit from the City, except those listed in subsection 3 of this section. Review is required to determine whether they conform to the Design Review Guidelines.
  3. Unless specifically required by the Technical Advisory Committee design review is not required for the following projects:
    1. Reroofing.
    2. New detached single family dwellings.
    3. Mobile home installations.
    4. Signs exempted in section 3 of the City Of Red Bluff Sign Regulations except painted signs described in Subsection N.
    5. Interior alterations and construction.


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General Criteria

The Planning Commission and the Technical Advisory Committee will ask these questions about a project:


  1. Does the project contribute to the quality of life in Red Bluff? What will the project be like to look at, to live in, to live next to, to work in, to shop in? Will it be pleasing to the community?
  2. Does the project suit Red Bluff and its proposed location?
  3. Does the project respect history? The Planning Commission intends to help protect and enhance buildings that have historic value by virtue of architectural character, historic association or age.
  4. Will the project be a good neighbor? It should not impair the use, enjoyment, value or orderly and attractive development of neighboring public and private property. A project should be designed to minimize interference with the privacy, quiet and view of its neighbors. The design also should minimize traffic problems and damage to the natural environment.
  5. Does the project follow the basic principles of good design? Harmony, continuity, variety, proportion, simplicity and balance should prevail in all aspects of a project. Whether it's a multibuilding project or a single sign, its different elements should be compatible. Variety should be used to create interest, not used just for the sake of difference. Monotony in form, detail and siting should be avoided. Elements should be in balance, and in proportion to one another and their environment. Design should be simple, not congested.
  6. Is the design sensitive to the pedestrian?
  7. Does the project make good use of the site? Overbuilding of a site is to be discouraged. Provisions of open areas with suitable landscaping complimentary to the proposed design such as front set-backs, walls, courts, patios, planters, window boxes, etc., are elements that will contribute substantial economic benefits to the owner and enhance the beauty of the neighborhood. Are natural topography and trees retained?


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Building Design


  1. Harmony: Different structures and parts of structures should go well together. The design should be compatible with the desirable developing character of the neighboring area. Design compatibility includes harmonious building style, form size, color and material.
  2. Materials, finishes, textures, colors: Exterior treatment should be restrained not harsh or garish, and should be selected for durability, wear characteristics and ease of maintenance.
  3. Mechanical equipment and utilities: Mechanical and utility service equipment, including meter boxes should be designed as part of a structure and should be screened. Screening should be an integral part of the structure. Solar heating equipment need not be screened but must be as unobtrusive as possible.


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Site Planning


  1. General Conditions:
    1. When predominant aesthetic natural features exist, the designer should utilize the site in a manner which will enhance the project. These features might include, but not limited to, vegetation, land forms, or a view. Cuts and fills which dominate the site should be avoided.
    2. The designer should consider the view of the project from adjacent properties as well as the potential blocking of existing scenic vistas.
    3. Exterior use spaces should be located and designed to minimize intrusion of noise, consider climatic conditions and maximize privacy.
    4. The project should be compatible with the desirable character of the surrounding area. Site uses should be planned so as not to conflict or produce an undesired effect on the adjacent properties.
    5. For phased projects, an effort should be made to avoid the creation of unsightly conditions.
  2. Circulation:
    1. The design should provide for a pleasing transition from the street to the project with the effective use of landscaping to enhance and soften structures, walkways, drives and parking areas.
  3. Parking Areas:

    The designer is encouraged to use innovative ideas to minimize the visual impact of parking areas. It is preferable that they be located on the side or to the rear of a project. Landscaping, walls, fences, or berms are encouraged by the Planning Commission to enhance the appearance of the parking area. When designing landscaping, safe driver sight distance shall be considered.

  4. Screening:
    1. Exterior trash container and recycling areas, storage areas, service yards, loading docks and ramps, and utility boxes should be screened from view in a manner that is compatible with the building site design.
    2. Screening should be provided for all mechanical and electrical equipment, including roof units, as an integral part of building design.
    3. Sources of noise, which are created by the proposed development, should be located or screened in a manner that will have a minimal impact on adjoining properties.
    4. Noise from adjacent properties should be minimized in the design of the proposed development by the appropriate placement of the site functions and the appropriate selection of building materials.
  5. Lighting:

    Exterior lighting, when used, should be subdued. It should enhance building design and landscaping, as well as provide for safety and security. It should not create glare for occupants or on neighboring properties. Lighting fixtures should be durable and compatible with building design and landscaping. Tall fixtures that illuminate large areas should be avoided.

  6. Grading:
    1. Proposed grading should blend with the contours of the area. Cut or fill slopes should be contour rounded.
    2. On-site drainage should be designed to be as obscure as possible and still fulfill its necessary function.


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  1. Landscaping, if appropriate, must be included on all project sites, excluding single family dwellings. It should enhance the effect of buildings and pavement. The landscaping should be a combination of trees, shrubs, and ground cover that will blend with the projects and with neighboring developments.
  2. When possible, existing healthy vegetation and natural ground formations should be incorporated into the landscaping plans. Existing healthy and mature trees, especially those along the site perimeter, should not be removed unless removal is necessary for structure, traffic or other essential facilities. Healthy vegetation should not be remove from unusable areas such as creek or steep slopes unless replace with vegetation that will be irrigated and grow to equivalent size within a reasonable length of time.
  3. The designer should be sure that the landscaping allows for adequate sight distance for motorists and pedestrians.
  4. Landscaping should be used in parking areas to screen vehicles from view and minimize the expansive appearance of the pavement. Trees should be planted in parking lots to provide shade for at least 25% of parking space area during mid-June of the third year after the trees are planted and shade at least 50% of the parking space area during mid-June of the fifth and subsequent years after the trees are planted. The time period specified in this section may be extended by the Planning Director.
  5. Plants should be selected with attention to their setting, climatic conditions, their size when mature relative to the space provided, and their year-round interest.
  6. Where landscaping is intended to perform a function, such as screening or shading, plants should be selected so that their purpose can be achieved within two to three years.
  7. Planting areas, within and adjacent to parking lots, shall be contained and protected.
  8. Appropriate permanent irrigation systems must be provided for ease of maintenance and for long life. Landscaping must be maintained at all times. Dead and badly diseased or damaged vegetation must be promptly replaced with plantings similar to those on the Planning Commission approved plans.
  9. Planters with shade trees at approximately 30 feet on center should be developed between all new street curbs and sidewalks, and extensions of street curbs and sidewalks.


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  1. The material, size, color, lettering, location and arrangement of signs must an integral part of the site and building design.
  2. Signing should be consistent in location and design throughout a project.
  3. Signing should be simple and restrained. Wall signs and low profile freestanding signs are encouraged.
  4. Lighting for signs should be subdued and shielded from view.
  5. Signs must conform to City Sign Regulations.
  6. Off premise signs:
    1. Off premise signs are encouraged to promote the erection of a single sign structure rather than several sign structures. The Planning Commission encourages businesses to centralize signing on a single structure rather than installing several sign structures, one for each business on each parcel. Such signs may be approved on a relatively long term basis if it is demonstrated that such signs will reduce the number and area of on-site signs within the City.
    2. Off premise signs are allowed to provide new businesses, relocated businesses, or businesses which have changed their name with the means of advising the public of these changes.


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How the Process Works

Design Review is administered by the Community Development Department. Persons planning development are encouraged to contact the department to discuss the project with staff.

If Design Review is required for a project, the recommended process is as follows:


  1. Initial Conference with Staff (or Commission):

    Before developing detailed plans, ideas and concepts should be discussed with the Planning Commission's staff representative. (Call (916) (530)527-2605 for an appointment).

  2. Application:

    The process begins when the applicant completes an application form, pays the fee and submits two sets of plans. Plans may be "schematic" or "final". The details required for each type of plans are listed under "Plans". (See Section "Q")

  3. Schematic Review:

    Schematic review is recommended for all projects. Schematic review allows the Planning Commission or the Technical Advisory Committee to evaluate basic concepts and to discuss plans with an applicant before major amounts of money and time are committed to design. At this meeting, after discussing the project, the Commission or the Technical Advisory Committee will take one of four actions:

    1. Approve the plans as submitted.
    2. Approve the plans subject to certain conditions.
    3. Deny the project.
    4. Continue its deliberation to a future meeting.
  4. Final Review:

    At this meeting, the Planning Commission or the Technical advisory Committee will check to see that the plans generally conform to the schematic plans and that final architectural details and landscaping plans are acceptable. The developer is invited to be represented at this meeting to discuss and explain the plans.

    At this meeting, the Planning Commission or the Technical Advisory Committee will take one of the following actions:

    1. Approve the plans as submitted.
    2. Approve the plans subject to conditions agreed to by the developer and Commission or the Technical Advisory Committee.
    3. Continue the matter to allow the applicant to make modifications, as required by the Planning Commission.


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When the Technical Advisory Committee and the applicant cannot reach a compromise, and the Technical Advisory Committee denies a project its findings and the judgments will be recorded in writing. A copy will be promptly transmitted to the applicant. The applicant may appeal any Technical Advisory Committee decision to the Planning Commission. Appeals must be filed with the Planning Commission within 10 days after the date of the letter notifying the applicant of the Technical Advisory Committee's decision.

When the Commission and the applicant can not reach a compromise and the Commission denies a project, its findings and judgments will be recorded in detail in the minutes of the meeting. A copy of the minutes will be mailed to the applicant.

The applicant may appeal a Planning Commission decision, on either schematic or final plans, to the City Council. Appeals must be filed with the City Clerk within 10 working days after the date of the letter notifying the applicant of the Planning Commission's decision.

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Meetings are held in City Hall whenever necessary as indicated in Sections "C" and "K".

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Staff Reports

The Planning Commission's staff, which includes the Technical Advisory Committee, will prepare a report and recommendations on each subject submitted for design review. Copies of these reports are sent to the Planning Commission members and applicants before the meetings. Copies are also available from the Community Development Department. Time for submittal to be placed on the agenda is no less than three (3) working days prior to an established meeting time.

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Application and Approval Expiration

Unless the Planning Commission designates a different time period, applications automatically expire in 120 days. Unless the Planning Commission designates a different time period, approval for projects which have not been completed and approved by the City shall expire in 365 days. City staff can extend applications and approvals provided a valid and reasonable need exists. The Planning Commission can extend applications and approvals.

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Removing Structures

If structure removal is part of a project, it must be done and all debris removed from the site within the time specified in the approval.

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Construction Activity

Construction time must be consistent with the size and complexity of the development.

During construction, a builder should keep a site neat and safe by:

  1. Leaving the site in its natural condition until construction can be carried to completion as one continuous process.
  2. Storing materials properly.
  3. Containing, screening and promptly removing construction debris.


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Plans must contain sufficient detail to show compliance with these guidelines. An applicant must submit 2 sets of plans accompanied by an application for Design Review and the application fee. If the plans are reviewed by the Planning Commission 6 additional sets of plans are required.

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Schematic Plans

Schematic plans must include the following items:

  1. A VICINITY MAP showing the relationship of the project to its neighborhood.
  2. SITE PLAN indicating points of access, circulation, parking areas, topography, landscaped areas and location of buildings and signs, including the location and use of the nearest structures on adjacent property.
  3. ELEVATIONS of signs and of all four sides indicating the form, materials and general treatment of exterior surfaces.
    1. A calculation of the number of parking spaces required.
    2. The area of the building site.
    3. The total number of new dwelling units and existing units that will remain.
    4. The area of the site to be covered by buildings and parking.
    5. Note proposed use or occupancy of each portion of all buildings.
    6. The zoning and actual current use of the site and adjacent properties.

Each sheet in the schematic proposal should be clearly identified with the name and address of the development and the name, address and telephone number of the applicant. Plan views must include a north arrow and all plans must indicate a scale.


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Final Plans

Final development plans will be reviewed when complete and submitted along with an application and application fees. The applicant will submit 2 of those sheets (6 additional if review is by the Planning Commission) in the plans that contain the following information.

    1. Dimensioned property lines and setbacks
    2. Location, name and width (including required widening of adjacent streets.)
    3. The name, location and width of watercourses.
    4. Existing and proposed public and private easements.
    5. All proposed improvements and existing improvements which will be retained.
    6. Parking spaces and aisles, dimensioned and with the flow of traffic noted by arrows.
    7. Access and circulation for pedestrians and vehicles
    8. Walls, fences and exterior lighting structures.
    9. Landscaped and outdoor use areas.
    10. If new sign area is proposed, the location of all existing and proposed signs.
    11. Trash and recycling area enclosures.
    1. A calculation of the number of parking spaces required.
    2. The area of the building site.
    3. The total number of new dwelling units and existing units that will remain.
    4. The area of the site to be covered by buildings and parking.
    5. Note proposed use of occupancy of each portion of all buildings.
    6. The zoning and actual current use of the site and adjacent properties.
    1. Present and proposed elevations and retaining walls.
    2. Show means of draining lot surface water and where it will be discharged.
    1. All sides of buildings.
    2. Location and size of signs.
    3. Materials and colors of all exterior surfaces and features.
    4. Exterior mechanical equipment and proposals for screening, including electrical and gas connections and meter boxes.
    1. Treatment of all unpaved areas not occupied by structures.
    2. Size, height and location of existing and proposed plants.
    3. Street trees.
    4. Method of irrigation.
    1. Plans for each sign.
    2. Dimensions and areas of all existing and proposed signs.
    3. Dimensions and areas of building walls on which signs are located.
    4. Heights of all signs.
    5. Means of lighting. Message that will appear on each sign
    6. Description of materials and colors for letters and background.

    The applicant may be required to include supplementary material such as photographs, actual building materials, color perspectives and renderings or a written explanation of design rational or proposals that are hard to describe with pictures.


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The application fee shall be adopted by Resolution. Application fees shall be submitted at the time the application form and plans are submitted. Time and material costs in excess of the application fee shall be paid by the applicant when the permit fees are paid. If no permit is issued the fees shall be paid before the application expires.


Project Value Fees   Project Value Fees
0 - 500 $17.00   10,000 - 25,000 $125.00
501 - 2,000 34.00   25,001 - 100,000 146.00
2,001 - 5,000 50.00   100,001 - 250,000 168.00
5,001 - 10,000 85.00   250,000 - or more 340.00

(Res. 22-1989, 1/4/93)

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Adoption History


  1. Establish Design Review Process:


    Ord. 658
        Established DRC
    Adopt Guideline
        Adopted 12/2/80
    Adopted 6/16/81
  2. Revisions:
    Ord 676 Revise Ch 7 City Code Adopted 11/3/81
    Ord. 768 Revise Ch 7 City Code Adopted 9/2/86
    Res. 9-1982 Revise Guidelines Adopted 11/81
    Res. 47-1982 Revise Guidelines Adopted 7/20/82
    Res. 95 - 1982 Revise Guidelines Adopted 12/21/82
    Res. 22 - 1985 Revise Guidelines Adopted 5/21/85
    Res. 42-1985 Revise Guidelines Adopted 10/1/85
    Res. 8-1986 Revise Guidelines Adopted 9/2/96
    Res. 34-1986 Revise Guidelines Adopted 8/19/86
    Res. 20-1992 Revise Guidelines Adopted 8/4/92
    Res. 27-1994 Revise Guidelines Adopted 9/20/94
    Res. 17-2001 Revise Guidelines Adopted 5/1/01
    Res. 43-2003 Revise Guidelines Adopted 9/16/03


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Trash Bin & Recycling Area Enclosure Standards




    The bins are stationary (no wheels) and require that the truck drive straight up to the enclosure. The RECYCLING AREA is to be located adjacent to the trash bin enclosure to ensure the same accessibility and same opening orientation.


    Refuse vehicle requires 18' of vertical clearance over the entire approach to and from the enclosure.


    Dimensions - the TRASH BIN enclosure must have a minimum inside dimension of 10' x 10' not including the fence posts, latches etc. The RECYCLING AREA is to have one half the area of the bin enclosure.

    Concrete Pad - The concrete pads must be reinforced or must be a minimum of 6" thick.

    Height The enclosures must be at least 6' high.

    Gates - The gates must be latch able or lockable in the open position.

    Bumpers - within the TRASH BIN ENCLOSURE ONLY, bumpers must be installed to prevent damage to walls and property behind the bins. The bumpers be must 3" iron posts or equivalent.


  4. BACK UP MAXIMUM BACK-UP DISTANCE OF 50' ALLOWED. BACKING IN STRAIGHT LINE ONLY. Designs should incorporate the enclosures on turns etc. and no at the end of a drive way.
  5. Turn radius- The turn radius must be adequate for a 3 axle refuse truck: The overall length, including the fors is 36'. Minimum practical turn radius is 50'. The collector, Red Bluff Disposal, should be contacted to verify adequate turning room.
  6. Access way - A 12' wide by 32' long access way with sufficient base to support a truck weight of 62,000 lbs must be provided.



Bins may be rolled into and out of the enclosure. Moving can only be for a short distance The RECYCLING AREA is to be located adjacent to the TRASH BIN ENCLOSURE to ensure the same accessibility and with the same opening orientation.

  1. Location

  2. Height Clearance - Same as 1B
  3. Enclosures -

    Dimensions: The TRASH BIN ENCLOSURE must be at least 10' wide and 6'. The RECYCLING AREA is to have one half the area of the BIN ENCLOSURE

    Concrete Pad: same as 1C.

    Height: the enclosure must be at least 5' high.

    Bumpers, withing the TRASH BIN ENCLOSURE only, poles (see 1C) may be used, or curbs may be set at least 12" away from the enclosure sides.

  4. Backup distance - same as 1D
  5. Turn radius - same as 1E
  6. Access-way - same as 1F


A typical family will generate 5.5 pounds per person of trash per day of which 2 pounds is recyclable. The trash generated will require over 2 cans per week. Single apartment and senior citizen complexes will generate a proporate amount.

Typical 5 to 6 (32 gallon refuse cans) can be emptied in a 1 yard bin. The size of bin required can be computed by dividing the total number of cans by 5.5 to approximate the number of yards required. Once the total number of yards is figured the proper size and frequency can be determined.

EXAMPLE A 4plex apartment housing tenants with families would require 1.6 yard of service based on the following calculation.

4 x 2.0 cans = 8 cans

8 / 5.5 = 1.6 yards

Service could be a 1.5 bin but a 2.0 yard bin serviced once per week would be better. A 1 yard bin serviced twice per week would be an alternative.

NOTE: The larger the bin, and the less frequency of collection produces the most cost effective price.


The enclosure design must incorporate both the TRASH BIN AREA and the RECYCLING AREA. The recycling area would be one half the area of the TRASH BIN. Enclosed with the same orientation and opening on the same side with gates. There is no mandatory design as long as all the requirements set out above are included. Below are some typical designs:


Compactors are available, but, because of liability, the local refuse contractor must provide the and receiver containers. Special rental arrangements can be made by calling the disposal company at (530)527-3443.

City Departments
Public Works
Human Resources
Parks and Recreation
Community / Senior Center
Contact Information
555 Washington St.
Red Bluff, CA 96080
Phone: (530) 527-2605
Fax: (530) 529-6878
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