Planning Studies

    On August 17, 2021, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors preliminarily adopted an amendment to the County of Santa Clara Ordinance Code, relating to implementation of State Minimum Fire Safe Regulations, including a process for appeals of denials of exceptions to these regulations. For more information, please read the August 17, 2021 Board of Supervisors report.

    For questions and input regarding the amendment, contact Robert Cain via email or by calling(408) 299-5706. The Ordinance Code amendment is scheduled for final adoption by the Board of Supervisors on August 31, 2021

    For additional background on Fire Safe Regulations, please reference links below:

    County to Hold Community Outreach Meeting to Inform Residents About State Minimum Fire Safe Regulations


    The County has recently adopted an ordinance to more effectively implement State Minimum Fire Safe Regulations, which apply to lands designated as in the State Responsibility Area (SRA) and, since July 1, 2021, in the Local Responsibility Area (LRA) Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (VHFHSZ). The goal of this session is to provide information on:

    1. The applicability of the State Minimum Fire Safe Regulations;
    2. Recent and proposed changes in the State Minimum Fire Safe Regulations;
    3. The process for Development Applications and Land Use Entitlements in the covered areas;
    4. The Exceptions and Appeals process recently adopted by the County.

    The goal of the State Minimum Fire Safe Regulations is to reduce the risk to life and property due to wildfires in the SRA and the LRA VHFHSZ. The goal of the County’s recent legislation is to ensure an adequate process exists in the Unincorporated County for the portions of the State regulations which are managed by local governments. The County encourages comments and participation from the public, especially from those who live or own property in the SRA or LRA VHFHSZ.


    County of Santa Clara Planning Department

    • Leza Mikhail, Deputy Director of Planning Services
    • Robert Cain, Senior Planner

    Santa Clara County Residents



    Tuesday, September 28, 2021
    6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
    Video of Zoom Meeting

    Thursday, October 14, 2021
    6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
    Video of Zoom Meeting

    For additional information and to provide questions and/or comments, the public is encouraged to submit them at the County Planning Office to Robert Cain via email or by calling(408) 299-5706.

     State Minimum Fire Safe Regulation ​Appeals


    The County of Santa Clara is proposing Zoning Ordinance amendments to streamline the permitting process for agricultural employee housing. This proposal provides a range of options that should address the critical housing needs of our farmers and ranchers – large and small, new and established – by enabling them to more quickly and at much lower permit cost provide housing to their workers and families.

    All interested parties may attend a public hearing of the Planning Commission on Thursday, May 28, 2020, beginning at 1:30pm.

    Pursuant to the provisions of California Governor’s Executive Order N-29-20, issued on

    March 17, 2020, this public hearing will be held by teleconference only. No physical location will be available for this public hearing; however, members of the public will be able to participate in the public hearing at

    Agenda-related documents will be available online approximately seven days before the above hearing date at

    Prior to the above hearing date, written communications should be delivered to Michael Meehan, Senior Planner and Agricultural Plan Program Manager, Department of Planning and Development, County of Santa Clara, 70 West Hedding Street, East Wing, 7th Floor, San Jose, CA 95110-1770, [email protected], (408) 299-5775.

    If you would like to be included on our interested parties list, please fill out the form below:


    The County of Santa Clara is proposing a Countywide Inclusionary Housing Ordinance that would apply to the development of three or more housing units in the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County (excluding Stanford University properties and incorporated cities). The proposed Ordinance would address the need for affordable housing within Santa Clara County by requiring that 16% of units within a new residential development of three or more units be dedicated as affordable housing units.

    The proposed Inclusionary Housing requirements would not apply to residential developments that propose one or two new units, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADU), Community Care facilities, or Agricultural Employee Housing projects.

    Note: A fee option to cover a projects’ Inclusionary Housing requirement (3 or more units) is being proposed as part of this Ordinance. The estimated cost for this option is described in the August 27, 2020 Planning Commission staff report. An additional public hearing to consider the proposed fee option will also be considered at the Board of Supervisors October 3, 2020 hearing.



    Community Outreach and Public Hearings

    Community Outreach Meetings (May 26 and 28, 2020)

     Planning Commission (August 27, 2020)

    Board of Supervisors (October 3, 2020)

    Background Information:

    In September of 2018 the County had adopted an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance and Affordable Housing Impact Fee for development within Stanford University as Phase I of this countywide effort. The approach for Phase II of this effort (current project) was presented to the Board of Supervisors on April 21st. Please see links below for the Board transmittal and minutes.


    For information about this Ordinance and for future Inclusionary Housing efforts you can contact Valerie Negrete or Manira Sandhir and/or visit the Office of Supportive Housing.​​​​

    The Department of Planning and Development (“Department”) is proposing text amendments to the County of Santa Clara General Plan and the County of Santa Clara Ordinance Code, Appendix I (Zoning), and abolishment of the Recreational Vehicle (RV) Park Development Design Guidelines, regarding policies and regulations for establishment of RV Parks within unincorporated Santa Clara County. Primarily, these amendments would:

    • Simplify length-of-stay restrictions for RV parks, and add a waiver process which would allow for both residential and/or recreational purposes; and
    • Amend the provisions to only allow RV Parks in rural zoning districts designated for higher intensity commercial uses (Roadside Services land-use designation).

    These amendments were approved at the May 25, 2021 Board of Supervisors hearing.

    Please Note: The Thousand Trails use permit expansion request is File No. PLN21-032 and is not part of this RV Park Ordinance Amendment. For project related comments/concerns regarding the Thousand Trails application please contact the planner, Carl Hilbrants.​

    The draft General Plan and Zoning Ordinance amendments are linked below for public review.

    Prior Meetings

    RV Park

    Project Updates


    San Juan Residential District Historic Survey Background Information

    San Juan Interested Parties


    Cornfields on a gloomy day

    The Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan [Valley Agricultural Plan] is a regional effort led by the County of Santa Clara and the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (OSA) to conserve Santa Clara Valley’s farmland and ranchland as an innovative climate change mitigation and economic development strategy. Funded in part by cap and trade revenues through the state’s Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALCP), the Valley Agricultural Plan will help avoid future greenhouse gas emissions by reducing conversion of working lands and focusing development in existing urban areas. By linking State and regional efforts with those of the County, cities, special districts and the agricultural community, the Valley Agricultural Plan will help to reach California’s climate goals while providing for a more sustainable agricultural future for the County.



    Assemble Project TeamAdvisors' Groups, and Technical Panels
    (January – April 2016) - complete

    Pha​se 1:

    Mapping and Policy Analysis (May – November 2016) - complete

    Pha​se 2:

    Prepare Draft Agricultural Framework (by February 2017) - complete

    Pha​se 3:

    Prepare Final Agricultural Framework (by September 2017) - complete

    The Valley Agric​ultural Plan was adopted by the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors on January 9, 2018:

    Valley Agricultural Plan and related Appendix


    Cherry orchards blossoming

    Santa Clara County has a rich agricultural history and was once recognized as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight” famous for its orchards and canneries. Today it is better recognized as Silicon Valley and is the fastest growing County in California and the most populous in the Bay Area. In the past 30 years alone, Santa Clara County has lost 21,171 acres of its farmland and rangeland to development, and an additional 28,391 acres of farmland and rangeland in the County are at risk of conversion going forward. Despite this, Santa Clara Valley retains valuable agricultural lands and an important farming industry, with over 1,000 farms and total economic production value of $1.6 billion dollars.


    Mission of the Valley Agricultural Plan is to shift the planning paradigm and create a comprehensive regional framework in order to preserve the remaining working lands and support a vibrant agricultural economy while mitigating climate change. The Plan has been developed at a pivotal time in the County’s history. In addition to State-level leadership on climate change, there is a robust network of partners emerging across the County and region in business, government and community sectors who are re-envisioning outdated patterns of growth and are committed to protecting working lands and catalyzing the agricultural economy. Designed to be implemented by 2030 to align with the State’s SB 32 Climate Goals, the Valley Agricultural Plan seeks to implement the following three key goals to advance agricultural land conservation within the Santa Clara Valley:

    1. Keeping Santa Clara Valley Working Lands at Work;
    2. Honoring the Importance of Agriculture to Santa Clara Valley; and
    3. Crafting a Unified Regional Land Use Policy Framework for the Future.




    Valley Agricultural Plan identifies “Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Resource Area” as the farmland and ranchland base where efforts are to be focused. The Plan is organized around four key Focus Areas. Each of the Focus Areas is interrelated and critical to building a robust agricultural economy in Santa Clara County.

    Land Use Policy: Preventing the Conversion of Working Lands

    Regional Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and other Voluntary Financial Incentives: Providing Financial Support for Resilient Agricultural Practices, Ecosystem Services and Rural Community Investment

    Agricultural Economic Development Strategy: Making the Case for Investment in Santa Clara County’s Agricultural Economy

    Branding, Education and Awareness Strategy: Communicating the Value of Working Landscapes in Santa Clara Valley and Their Connection to Ecological and Economic Resilience.

    SCV Diagram


    To learn more and/or participate in this innovative regional effort to protect Santa Clara County’s irreplaceable agricultural lands please contact  Leza Mikhail, Santa Clara County Deputy Director of Planning Services at (408)299-5773.


    On December 17, 2013, the Board of Supervisors Adopted an Ordinance requiring either pre-wiring or the installation of charging systems for Plug in Electric Vehicles (PEV) in new buildings in the unincorporated areas.

    The purpose of this ordinance is to increase the availability of PEV charging system infrastructure throughout the County, encouraging the increased ownership of plug in electric vehicles.

    The Ordinance requires that new buildings install conduit and ensure electrical panel capacity to enable the future installation of Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment.

    For new non-residential and multi-family residential buildings that install more than 100 new parking spaces, the Ordinance requires the installation of a Level 2 Plug in Electric Vehicle Charging system to 1% of the parking spaces.

    The ordinance is intended to be a model ordinance that can be used by other jurisdictions in Santa Clara County in adopting their own PEV Charging Ordinance.

    On November 14, 2013, the proposed PEV Charging Ordinance was presented to the Cities Association of Santa Clara County. After receiving this presentation, the Cities Association Board adopted a resolution in support of the County’s approach and model ordinance, encouraging each of the fifteen cities to pursue ordinances requiring pre-wiring in new buildings.

    Below are other background materials regarding the proposed Ordinance and proposed outreach schedule and timeline for adoption of the Ordinance.

    August 15th HLUET Presentation

    The proposed framework for the PEV Ordinance was discussed at the August 15th Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee of the Board:

    Other Resources

    Information about the development of High-Speed Rail in Santa Clara County

    Rendered image of a high speed trains at a station

     ​Proposed Review Dates

    • Board of Supervisors - August 29, 2017

     HLUET Committee Review

     San Martin Community Meeting

    Santa Clara County Department of Planning and Development hosted a community meeting on February 2, 2017 to discuss the proposed High Speed Rail alignment between San Jose and Gilroy.

    The County is conducting Zoning Ordinance amendments across rural base zoning districts (Exclusive Agriculture, Agricultural Ranchlands, Hillsides, and Rural Residential).

    The update consists of three main components:

    • Simplifying and streamlining the permit process for agriculture supportive uses;
    • Aligning development in agricultural areas with County policies; and
    • Replacing “local-serving” provisions with objective development standards.

    These amendments are intended to:

    • Further the County’s policy goals for continued agricultural viability;
    • Keep the rural areas rural by limiting non-compatible uses; and
    • Remove “local-serving” provisions that are difficult to understand and implement.


    Environmental Review

    The County of Santa Clara will be preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Rural Zoning Ordinance Amendments Project.

    A meeting to receive comments on the NOP is scheduled April 14th at 6pm via Zoom

    Your comments regarding the project are welcome on or before April 27th.  Written comments on the NOP should be addressed to Michael Meehan at (408) 299-5775.


    Materials related to the proposed Rural Zoning Update:


    Outreach Meetings

    Rural Zoning Update Outreach Meetings
    July 12, 2021 Meeting Recording
    July 14, 2021 Meeting Recording

    Agricultural Stakeholder Meeting
    July 27, 2021 Meeting Recording
    Combined Presentation Slides for Rural Zoning Updates and Coyote Valley

    Chinese Language Stakeholder Meeting
    August 11, 2021

    Rural Zoning Updates Submit Questions

    Submit questions and comments to a County Staff member below: 

    Rural Zoning Updates Mailing List

    To be added to the informational mailing list concerning this project, please fill out the form below:​​​ ​​​​​​​


    The County is proposing amendments to the Zoning Ordinance and General Plan regarding a new overlay zone for the unincorporated area known as Coyote Valley, between the Cities of San José and Morgan Hill. The County’s proposed amendments are intended to coincide with changes proposed by the City of San José to amend its own Zoning and General Plan designations in Coyote Valley.

    The County’s new overlay zone in Coyote Valley would limit the development of certain uses and introduce new voluntary financial incentives aimed at protecting the unique combination of natural characteristics of Coyote Valley.

    Related upcoming​​ meetings:

    NOTE: The Planning Commission meeting on October 28, 2021, has been cancelled and this item will be heard at the next Planning Commission meeting, which is November 18, 2021.


    Staff has conducted virtual outreach meetings to present an overview of the County’s proposed direction and to solicit feedback from members of the public.


    Monday, July 26, 2021

    6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

    Meeting Recording


    Tuesday, July 27, 2021

    6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

    Meeting Recording

    Combined Presentation Slides for Rural Zoning Updates and Coyote Valley​


    Wednesday, August 11, 2021

    1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

    Community Center, County of Santa Clara Animal Services Building

    12425 Monterey Road, San Martin, CA 95046

    If you require disability accommodation and/or language assistance for the public meetings, please reach out to Michael Meehan at [email protected] 72 hours prior to the meeting so staff can make the appropriate arrangements.

    Coyote Valley Climate Overlay Submit Questions

    Submit questions and comments to a County Staff member below: 


    Coyote Valley Climate Overlay Mailing List

    To be added to the informational mailing list concerning this project, please fill out the form below:​​​ ​​​​​​​


    At this time, the County does not have any draft Amendments to propose. ​County staff is evaluating feedback received from our Public Outreach meetings held in February and has scheduled Outreach Meetings​ in South County. The purpose of the upcoming Morgan Hill meetings is to update the community on the status and timeline of the Zoning Ordinance Amendment project and to close the loop on two South County Outreach meetings that were canceled in February, 2019.

    The County will conduct additional Community Outreach on new Amendments once they are drafted. To be notified of upcoming Workshops and Community Meetings focused on this effort your contact information at the bottom of this page.

    Thank you for your interest and we look forward to hearing from you!

    ​If you are interested in the project and would like to be notified about these items for future meetings, please contact Joanna Wilk at (408) 299-5799, [email protected]​ ​or Valerie Negrete at (408) 299-5791, [email protected].​

    Zoning Amendments Mailing List

    To be added to the informational mailing list concerning this project, please fill out the form below:​​​​​


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