Urban Design Element (Public Hearing Draft, 5/1/13)
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Urban Design

The City’s distinctive built environment and its wealth of natural resources help distinguish San Clemente from the rest of Orange County and define its visual character. The focus of this element is on the physical and design characteristics of human-made urban features that unify San Clemente: public places, gateways, architecture, landscaping, public views, and our urban forest. San Clemente is believed to be one of California’s first “planned communities”, created through the foresight and support from the City’s founder, Ole Hanson. Citizens continue to value San Clemente’s beauty and character which were established, in part, through its early urban design plan. Today, urban design can help preserve and enhance those qualities of the “Spanish Village by the Sea” that residents and visitors enjoy. Preservation and enhancement of historical resources, protection of our valued coastal environment and other natural resources, celebration of arts and culture and the multi-modal transportation network that connects our neighborhoods and key destinations also contribute to San Clemente’s unique visual character. These topics are addressed elsewhere in the General Plan, and additional design goals and policies that are tailored to individual areas of the City are included in the Focus Areas section of the General Plan Land Use Element.

The General Plan is one of several tools that guide the physical development of our City and enhance community character. The Zoning Code, Design Guidelines and various specific plans provide additional, detailed land use and design regulations, guidelines and implementation programs that guide public and private improvements throughout San Clemente.


Create and enhance a high-quality, built environment that protects and enhances our treasured natural and historical resources, maintains our small town beach character, provides accessibility to residents, employees and visitors, and distinguishes San Clemente as the Spanish Village by the Sea.

  1. Public Places
  2. Gateways
  3. Compatibility
  4. Maintenance
  5. Architectural & Landscape Character
  6. Urban Forest/Trees


*indicates Specific Plans to be updated or removed.

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Urban Design Sections

Focus Areas

City of San Clemente
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