Urban Design Element (Public Hearing Draft, 5/1/13)
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Architecture and Landscaping
"I vision a place where people can live together more pleasantly than any other place in America.... the whole picture is very clear before me.... I can see hundreds of white-walled homes bonneted with red tile, with trees, shrubs, hedges of hibiscus, palms and geraniums lining the drives, and a profusion of flowers framing the patios and gardens..." --Ole Hanson, 1925(from the San Clemente Historical Society website).

Ole Hanson’s vision guides the Urban Design Element’s policies. By emphasizing the careful integration of buildings and landscape, San Clemente seeks to build on and promote the tradition established by San Clemente's "Spanish Village by the Sea” heritage architecture and landscaping. In those areas where different architectural styles are predominant, or where an eclectic mix of styles is desired, we also require a commitment to high quality architectural standards and appropriate, sustainable landscaping.

Another critical component of urban design -- landscaping -- is used to enhance buildings and sites, improve safety, frame desirable views, screen and separate undesirable views and uses, and maintain an attractive streetscape. Landscape design should fit the surrounding context and complement the City’s natural and historical landscape setting and plantings.

Using an integrated system of design tools (e.g., General Plan, Specific Plans, Zoning Code, Design Guidelines, and various implementing master plans), the City of San Clemente reviews, regulates, guides, and encourages high-quality architecture, building improvements and appropriate landscaping.


Create and maintain a unique atmosphere and historic identity as “the Spanish Village by the Sea” where development exhibits high quality site planning, architecture and landscaping and reflect a lush Mediterranean landscaped character, emphasizing Spanish Architecture and drought tolerant and California native plantings.


UD-1.12. Outdoor Spaces. For multi-family residential, mixed use and commercial development, we require integration of outdoor spaces into the architectural and site designs by encouraging the use of courtyards, patios, paseos, plazas, gardens, covered walkways, rooftop terraces, verandas and other outdoor spaces enclosed by architectural or landscape elements, and encourage the same for other types of development.
UD-1.13. Three-Story Development. Three-story developments shall include public open space at the ground level to create interest, usable areas for outdoor dining, seating or displays and to help reduce the apparent scale and mass of second and third building stories.
UD-1.14. Accessible Open Space. New buildings and major remodels [Consultant to define “major remodel”] on Avenida Del Mar and El Camino Real in the “T-Zone” should contribute to public and private, publicly accessible open space.
UD-1.15. Site Access and Entries. Downtown site and building designs shall be integrated with the public sidewalk, street and where applicable, alleys to create inviting and attractive commercial and residential areas and public spaces.
UD-1.16. Architectural Overlay District. We require that new buildings and major building remodels in the Del Mar/T-Zone, North Beach, and Pier Bowl areas, and El Camino Real between North Beach and the T-Zone, utilize Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, per the Architectural Overlay District and Design Guidelines.
UD-1.17. Preserving Distinctive Architecture. In the Architectural Overlay areas, we require new buildings, additions and remodels to follow City Design Guidelines for Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style, except that remodels of architecturally significant buildings eligible or potentially eligible for historic listing with distinctive styles other than Spanish Colonial Revival, such as Post-Modern and Mid-Century Modern architectural styles, should reinforce the buildings’ original architectural design.
UD-1.18. Other Spanish Architecture. We require that new buildings between the T-Zone and Avenida Valencia utilize Spanish Colonial Revival architecture or other Spanish architecture, per the Architectural Overlay District and Design Guidelines.
UD-1.19. Los Molinos and the Surf Zone*. We encourage the use of diverse architectural styles that reflect the eclectic character and local context of these areas. Emphasis shall be placed on quality design and building materials per the Zoning Code and Design Guidelines.
UD-1.20. Public Buildings. We require Spanish Colonial Revival architecture for the development and major remodels of public buildings, and for the development and major remodels of visually prominent, non-residential, quasi-public structures such as churches, assembly halls, theaters and cultural facilities, except in those districts allowing for a different architectural style.
UD-1.21. Scale and Massing. We require that the scale and massing of development be compatible with its surroundings and any larger vision for an area.
UD-1.22. Three-Story Mixed Use Buildings. We permit development of three-story, mixed-use buildings in the Avenida Del Mar/T-Zone where their designs are consistent with adopted standards, reflect high-quality design and materials and reinforce San Clemente’s Spanish Village by the Sea architectural character.
UD-1.23. Offset Building Facades. To prevent “canyonization” and preserve village character, second- and third-story building facades shall be horizontally and vertically setback, with differential setbacks between adjacent buildings for variety and architectural interest.
UD-1.24. Incentives to Maintain Village Character. We encourage and provide incentives for the remodeling and reuse of buildings in a manner that preserves and reinforces Downtown’s pedestrian-oriented Village character.
UD-1.25. Building Modulation. To modulate large building facades, provide architectural interest and maintain pedestrian scale, Downtown building forms, facades and footprints should be designed to visually reflect original Downtown lot patterns and spacing.
UD-1.26. Commercial Areas Outside of the Architectural Overlay. Outside of the Architectural Overlay, new buildings and major remodels shall follow either Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style or shall follow the Design Guidelines for “Other Spanish” architectural styles. This includes new and existing commercial centers in these areas: 1) Pico Plaza/Pico Corridor, 2) Los Mares, and 3) Shorecliffs.
UD-1.27. Building Remodels. Major building remodels (as defined herein) should be designed to incrementally move buildings’ exterior architectural character closer to Spanish Colonial Revival, or where applicable, “Other Spanish” architectural designs.
UD-1.28. Drought Tolerant/Native Species Landscaping. Ornamental plantings in new, non-residential development should consist primarily of drought tolerant and California native species. Only in small areas and special public locations, such as high-use areas of parks, should lawns or other high water use vegetation be used.
UD-1.29. Landscaping Plans. We require that development projects subject to discretionary review submit and implement a landscaping and irrigation plan.
UD-1.30. Landscape Maintenance. We require property owners to properly maintain vegetation on developed sites, remove and abate weeds, and replace unhealthy or dead landscape plants.
Landscaping in Commercial/Industrial Development. We require that commercial and industrial development incorporate automatic, drought-conscious, “smart” irrigation systems and maintain landscaping in a healthy and attractive condition.

* “Surf Zone” refers to the areas along South El Camino Real, south of Avenida Valencia to the San Diego County line.



*indicates Specific Plans to be updated or removed.

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City Hall | 100 Avenida Presidio, San Clemente, CA 92672 | Phone (949) 361-8200  |  FAX (949) 361-8285
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