San Jose Design Standards and Guidelines | San Jose, CA

Creating Citywide Development Standards and Guidelines


Covering 180 square miles, San José is the largest city in the Bay Area, extending from the San Francisco Bay to the Santa Clara Valley foothills. San José is composed of diverse communities spread across a well-established mix of residential, commercial, and industrial uses; public parks; cultural institutions; and employment centers.

Over the past 20 years, San José’s population has grown by over 15 percent and transitioned to more urban development to accommodate this growth. These conditions are both an asset and a challenge in supporting cohesive development that reflects the individual needs and character of its neighborhoods. VMWP worked with the City of San José to create a set of Design Standards and Guidelines that work in conjunction with other City documents and regulations to ensure that buildings throughout San José have high-quality design and are appropriate for their site, function, and neighborhood.

The San José Citywide Design Standards and Guidelines apply overarching site and development criteria to areas that are not currently subject to any existing guidelines.


  • Site Context, Access, and Organization
  • Building Massing, Access and Entry, and Elements
  • Pedestrian Level Treatments, Open Space Design, and Public Art
  • Specific Development Types; Residential, Commercial, Industrial

Project Information

  • Client: City of San José
  • Project Scale: Residential and Commercial Design Standards and Guidelines


  • American Planning Association (APA) California Chapter Award of Excellence for Urban Design
  • American Planning Association (APA) Northern California Chapter Award of Excellence for Urban Design

Van Meter Williams Pollack LLP