Current Planning and Zoning

The Current Planning Section guides the City’s orderly development by applying the zoning code thus achieving a livable city that balances the needs of residents and businesses.

Online Zoning Code

Before you access the online Zoning Code, please read the following information. The Zoning Code describes various types of zoning districts and land use classifications, land use regulations, development standards, and environmental performance standards. The Zoning Code’s purpose is to protect and promote the public’s health, safety, and general welfare, and to implement the policies of the comprehensive General Plan.

This electronic version of the Zoning Code is maintained by the City’s Planning and Development Department. The online code is updated periodically after the Council adopts an amendment to the Zoning Code. To check to see if there are recent changes, please contact the Current Planning Section at (626) 744-4009. The Zoning Administrator has the authority to interpret the Zoning Code. You should check to see if there have been any interpretations issued regarding the sections of the Zoning Code that you are reviewing.

The link to the Zoning Code will take you to the Page of Contents. From that page, there are links to each section of the Zoning Code. Within a section, there may be references to other sections which will be linked. The on-line Zoning Code has a unique feature that links you to the words that are defined in Article 8. You can check to see if a word is defined by moving the cursor over that particular word. If the word turns green and is underlined, a partial definition of the word shows up in a pop-up box. The word is linked to a definition and you can click it to read the entire definition.

Zoning Designations

Pasadena’s zoning designation are divided between residential (R) districts and commercial districts (C or I).

  • A land use regulation designator (i.e. RS, RM, CG, etc.), indicating the principal land uses permitted or conditionally permitted in each district, is a component of all zoning designations.
  • A residential units/acre designator (i.e. 16, 32, 48 units per acre), indicating permitted dwelling unit densities exclusive of any bonuses, is a required component of all residential zoning designations.
  • A CD, EC, ECSP, EPSP, FGSP, LA, NLSP, or SFO indicates applicable Specific Plan designation and is a required component of all such zoning designations.
  • Overlay district designators shall be included in a zoning designation if the provisions of one or more overlay districts are applicable to a site.
Zoning District Symbol Zoning District Name General Plan Land Use Classification Implemented by Zoning District
Residential Districts
RS-1 – RS-6 Single-Family Residential Low-Density Residential
RM-12 Multi-Family Residential – Two Units Per Lot Low-Medium Density Residential
RM-16 Multi-Family Residential – City of Gardens Medium Density Residential
RM-32 Multi-Family Residential – City of Gardens Medium-High Density Residential
RM-48 Multi-Family Residential – City of Gardens High Density Residential
Commercial and Industrial Districts
CO Commercial Office General Commercial
CL Limited Commercial Neighborhood Commercial
CG General Commercial General Commercial
IG General Industrial Industrial
Special Purpose Districts
OS Open Space Open Space
PD Planned Development All
PS Public and Semi-Public Institutional
Overlay Districts
AD Alcohol Density Commercial
HD Hillside Development Residential
HL Height Limit All
HL-1 Height Limit Multi-family Residential
HH Hospitality Home Residential
IS Interim Study All
LD Landmark All
ND Neighborhood Low Density Residential
OC Office Conversion Multi-family Residential
PK Parking Residential
SS Specialty Shop Overlay District Residential
Specific Plan Areas
See Article 3 – Specific Plan Standards

Permits, Applications, Forms

All applications must be filled out completely and submitted to the Permit Center with applicable fees. The Master Application is required for all legislative applications. If your project requires more than one legislative application, you only fill out the Master Application once, and fill out all supplemental applications as required. There are two versions of the Master Application, the long form which includes the Environmental Assessment Supplement questions for environmental impact review and the short form, which is a single page.

View Applications & Forms

Environmental Review

About The Environmental Review Process

In 1970, the California State Legislature adopted the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to establish a procedure for evaluating the environmental effects of proposed projects (both public and private). CEQA is used to eliminate or reduce any significant adverse impacts which could occur from an approved project.

Environmental review is required for most discretionary actions including street vacations, use permits/ minor use permits, variances/ minor variances, sign exceptions, tract and parcel maps and design review and for legislative actions including zone changes, general plan amendments, and code amendments. The environmental review occurs while the application is processed. A decision is made on the environmental determination before a decision is made on the legislative or discretionary application.

In addition to the requirements of CEQA, the City of Pasadena has adopted additional environmental standards that are contained in the Environmental Policy Guidelines. These guidelines provide specific standards for the City’s environmental review process.


When you receive your application forms for your legislative or discretionary review, you will be given an Environmental Assessment Form (EAF). You submit this completed form with the required exhibits when you submit your application for a legislative or discretionary action. Some projects are exempt from CEQA. This determination may be made at the time you submit your application.

Staff has 30 days to review your application and determine its completeness. If all information has not been provided, staff will send you a letter outlining those items that must be completed. Occasionally a more thorough review of your project could result in a change to the environmental determination. The environmental determination covers all the legislative discretionary actions of your project.

If your project is not exempt, staff will prepare an Initial Study (IS). The City has annually adjusted fees for covering environmental processing. Staff has another 30 days from the time the application is considered complete to prepare the Initial Study.

Initial Study (IS)

Under CEQA, the Initial Study (IS) analyzes the proposed project and is used to determine whether or not there are adverse impacts on the environment.  This 30 day review process and preparation of the Initial Study involve a full assessment of the potential effects of a project on the environment.

These include:

  1. Aesthetics
  2. Agricultural Resources
  3. Air Quality
  4. Biological Resources
  5. Cultural Resources
  6. Energy
  7. Geology and Soils
  8. Hazards and Hazardous Materials
  9. Hydrology and Water Quality
  10. Land Use and Planning
  11. Mineral Resources
  12. Noise
  13. Population and Housing
  14. Recreation
  15. Transportation and Traffic
  16. Utilities and Services
  17. Mandatory Findings of Significance

Upon completion of the IS, it will be circulated to interested parties and related agencies for their comment. Staff will then make an initial environmental determination of your project’s impacts.

There are three possible determinations:

  1. a Negative Declaration (a statement that there are no environmental impacts);
  2. a Negative Declaration with Mitigation Measures (a statement that there are potential impacts that can be reduced to a minimum through the adoption of requirements or conditions); or
  3. that your project requires an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) because potential significant impacts can not be reduced to an insignificant level.

In order for staff to fully evaluate the potential environmental impacts of a project, certain studies may be required in order to complete the Initial Study (IS). Such studies may include a traffic/parking study, an air quality study, geology and soils study, biological resources survey, etc. Prior to commencing work on the initial study, planning staff will evaluate the project and work with the applicant to determine what studies (if any) are needed.

Negative Declaration

A “Negative Declaration” is a statement that your project will have no significant impact on the environment. However, sometimes a proposed project could have a negative effect on the environment. Many effects or impacts can be mitigated, if conditions are required that reduce the impact to a level of insignificance. These conditions or requirements are adopted as mitigation measures and conditions of approval, if the project is approved.

A project with mitigation measures is referred to as having a “Negative Declaration with mitigation measures.” By State law, Negative Declarations are available for public review and comment for 20 days prior to a public hearing when a legislative or discretionary action is taken.

Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

If during the Initial Study process, staff determines that some of the impacts cannot be mitigated to a level of insignificance, they will recommend to the Environmental Administrator that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) be prepared.

The cost of preparing an EIR and the cost of staff’s time is the responsibility of the applicant. EIRs are prepared by the consultants chosen by and on contract with the City. The draft EIR is circulated to interested parties and related agencies for review and comment for not less than 30 days.

A public hearing is held on the adequacy of the EIR, usually at the time the legislative or discretionary application is acted upon. Before the City approves a project with an EIR, it will certify that the EIR is adequate. The review body will also review alternatives to the project which reduce the environmental effects.

Mitigation Monitoring (MMRP)

When your project goes before a review body, it adopts the environmental determination and adopts mitigation measures either from an EIR or from a negative declaration with mitigation measures. These mitigation measures are adopted with a “Mitigation Monitoring Reporting Program (MMRP)” and become conditions of approval.

The MMRP outlines how the City will monitor the mitigation measures over the life of the use or building. The City develops the program, you are required to sign the program and to meet with the Mitigation Monitoring staff prior to obtaining any building permits to ensure the implementation of the program.

After The Hearing

If your project application is approved and was not exempt from CEQA, staff prepares a Notice of Determination which is a CEQA requirement. This determination, along with the Negative Declaration or Statement of Overriding Considerations, Certificate of Exemption from State Fish and Game Fees or State Fish and Game fees and processing fees for the County is filed by the City staff with the County, where it is made available for review.

Approval of your project’s Notice of Determination is not final until the appropriate California Fish and Game Fees have been paid. Filing of the Notice of Determination or Notice of Exemption with the County starts a 30-35 day limit for legal action against a project’s approval based on the environmental determination.

If your project application is not approved, you may appeal the project decision and/or the environmental determination to the appropriate appeal body. The appeal period for a project varies depending on the type of decision. You should check with the department that reviewed your application to determine the appeal period and to request an appeal application. A decision by the Environmental Administrator may be appealed by any interested party to the Board of Zoning Appeals or called up for review by the Planning Commission.