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Last Updated: Oct 19, 2017

Zoning Ordinance Update

On September 11, 2007, the Palo Alto City Council approved the final revisions to the City’s comprehensive update of the Zoning Ordinance, Title 18 of the Municipal Code. The revised ordinance became effective on October 11, 2007. The ordinance includes a new format for the code, with a more extensive use of tables and updated definitions. Also included are context-based design criteria (form-based coding) for multi-family, commercial, mixed use, and pedestrian-transit oriented development. A PDF version of the Zoning Ordinance is also provided for easier viewing, downloading, and printing. Links to background issues papers and a history of the Palo Alto Zoning Ordinance are provided below.

The Zoning Ordinance is a dynamic document, and will continue to be amended from time to time to reflect changed circumstances and updated zoning practices. For further information on the development of the ordinance and continuing amendments, please contact the Department of Planning and Community Environment at 650-329-2441.

Last Updated: Mar 18, 2015
Land Uses and Use Classifications - Discussion Paper
Discussion paper on the issues involved with updating land use classifications as part of the Zoning Ordinance Update

Land Uses and Use Classifications - Discussion Paper Number Two
A second discussion paper regarding land use issues and use classifications. Includes review and update of land use categories, land use terms, and discussion of uses that require special regulation.

Brief History of the City of Palo Alto Zoning Ordinance
A brief history of Palo Alto zoning regulations, beginning with the first land use regulations the City adopted.

Flexibility vs. Certainty: Discussion Paper
A discussion of the conflict between a desire for certainty in the review process and providing for flexibility in the Zoning Code to allow varied criteria and design based on site conditions, the applicant's design preferences, or community objectives.

Old Zone Districts
List of zoning districts prior to the zoning ordinance update

Types of Zoning Codes and Formats: Discussion Paper
A discussion paper surveying the history and legal basis for zoning codes, as well as several different approaches to writing codes, and how they would apply in Palo Alto