Development Services Planning Division
The Planning Division reviews all new construction, ranging from small home additions to large commercial projects to ensure that the work to be performed conforms with the City's zoning laws. To streamline the permit process, both the Planning and Building Divisions provide contractors and homeowners with an easy step-by-step guide for completing the process. On large-scale projects, pre-construction coordination meetings are held with project proponents and all City staff who will play a role in the construction process to help ensure a smooth running project. The Planning Division is also responsible for maintaining the City's land development and land use standards.
The Alhambra City Planning Commission guides the City's planning process and is comprised of ten individuals appointed by the City Council from the community. Their work includes identification of planning-related problems and opportunities; review of plans for projects requiring zoning changes, variances, or subdivision approval, as well as publicly-supported projects such as those initiated by the Alhambra Redevelopment Agency. The Commission meets the first and third Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers.
Common Planning Issues:
Size of new construction - A new or expanded home is typically considered compatible if the size of the home does not exceed the mean and median size home by more than 75%. In addition to total floor area, the Planning Commission also reviews lot areas and floor area ratios for the affected properties to give a more complete picture of the neighborhood. Projects that comply with the policy are not guaranteed to be approved, and projects that exceed the 75% threshold above the mean and median house size are not automatically rejected. The policy is one of several tools used by the Planning Commission in reviewing projects, including architectural design, bulk, scale, materials of construction, building height, setbacks, parking and landscaping to determine compatibility with the existing neighborhood.
R-3 Zoned Properties - To promote additional development, Alhambra affords flexible development standards on R-3 zoned properties. The goal is to promote higher quality multiple family residential development, encourage innovative design and efficient use of land that might otherwise be stifled by rigid development standards, encourage consolidation of parcels, and judge permit developments on individual merits. The flexible development standards provision allows for variation from up to three of the provisions required by the R-3 zone, three provisions required by the property development standards, and three provisions required by the design standards. In addition, flexible parking standards may also be requested but are subject to approval by the Planning Commission. Flexible development standards are restricted to lots 40,000 square feet and larger.
Other Common Planning Issues include downzoning areas to preserve the single-family character and integrity of neighborhoods; reducing the number of units that can be built on any given parcel to create more open space; and reducing parking problems by researching ways to modify the City's zoning ordinance.