The Planning Department provides planning and environmental review for the City. This includes assistance to the City Council, and staffs the following City Boards: Planning Commission, Design Review Board, Tree Board, Climate Action Committee, and Public Arts Committee. The department also provides information about the City’s physical development to the City’s residents and the real estate, development and construction industries.

The Department is also responsible for parks planning and grants. Current projects include: Ives Park Master Plan Implementation; including Calder Creek naturalization, community sculpture garden, and pathway replacement; the Americorp Trail extension project.

Planning is divided into two primary functions: Current planning includes receiving and processing all applications for land use permits, subdivision and other development permits, preparing staff reports for the appropriate City boards and commissions and performing inspections to assure compliance with zoning and other planning regulations. This role includes preparation of necessary environmental documents as required by State and City law and policies.

Advance planning includes preparation of long-range planning documents, special studies, policy development, and preparation of municipal ordinances relating to a range of topics.

Development Services

Background on City Planning

Development projects are often of concern to the community. New developments can change the character of a neighborhood by removing existing buildings and replacing them with new uses, different architectural styles, larger buildings, and a greater intensity of activity. Impact on traffic congestion, air quality, water consumption, shadows, housing affordability and neighborhood businesses can also be of concern. Construction period impacts, including noise, dust generation, vibration, and construction period parking can also be problematic for neighbors.

Development can also result in positive changes for the community by replacing deteriorated, outmoded, or unsafe buildings, by provided needed housing, by creating new services and jobs, and by augmenting the vitality and diversity of the local economy. With the substantial restrictions on municipal taxing powers imposed by the California voters, new development can also contribute revenues to provide basic city services, including Police, Fire, water, wastewater, and roads.

The history of land use regulation in Sebastopol has been marked by a continued progression and refinement of policies and regulations. The City’s decision makers have responded to changing concerns by enacting a variety of laws which have affected both the process by which development is considered, and the substance of that development.

Long-Range Planning

Advance planning includes preparation of long-range planning documents, special studies, policy development, and preparation of municipal ordinances relating to a range of topics. Current projects include:

Vehicle Miles Traveled

The State of California adopted SB743, effective 2020, which shifts transportation impact metrics for the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) from vehicle level of service (LOS), a measure of roadway capacity that assigns a letter grade to roadway performance (A to F, similar to scholastic grades), to vehicle-miles traveled (VMT), a metric that accounts for the number of vehicle trips generated and the length or distance of those trips. (See also the following video “What is VMT”: ).

The shift to VMT changes the focus of CEQA Transportation analysis from “how does a project impact drivers” to “what is the environmental impact of driving resulting from the project.”

Downtown Streets Planning and Redesign (Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Grant)

General Plan

General Plan

State planning law requires that each city and county in California have a General Plan consisting of seven “elements” which include the Land Use, Circulation, Housing, Conservation, Noise, Open Space and Safety elements.

The general plan is intended to serve as a “constitution” for all future development within the city. The general plan sets broad policies; city ordinances and administrative procedures are the vehicles for the implementation of the general plan. In terms of city planning requirements, the primary implementation mechanism of general plan policies is the Zoning Ordinance, which translates the generalized nature of the Land Use, Housing, Circulation, and other elements’ policies into highly specific development standards.

CEQA Documents

Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Sebastopol General Plan Update – May 2016

Appendecies to the Draft EIR – May 2016

Final Environmental Impact Report: The final EIR provides a response to comments received on the Draft EIR and identifies revisions made to the Draft EIR.

If interested in learning more about the process, or to see archive information, you may visit the special website that was created at


Affordable Housing

Housing Element Update

All cities in the State of California are required to maintain a General Plan and Housing Element, which is one of the required chapters of the General Plan. The “Sixth Cycle” Housing Element Update is underway, and will plan for housing within the City of Sebastopol from 2023-2031. The City of Sebastopol started working on this effort in September of 2021, and the City Council adopted the Housing Element Update on January 3, 2023.

City of Sebastopol’s 6th Cycle (2023-2031) Adopted Housing Element Letter of Certification

Public Hearings

Public Hearings

January 3, 2023 – City Council Public Hearing to Consider Adoption of the Housing Element General Plan Amendment (6 pm, zoom)

December 13, 2022 – Planning Commission Public Hearing on the Housing Element General Plan Amendment (6 pm, zoom)

This link includes both a redlined version and a ‘clean’ version of the Final Draft Housing Element Update

Public Comments

Public comments on Public Review draft

Update December 1, 2023: Please see attached for the HCD comment letter on the City’s Revised Draft Housing Element:

To submit a comment, please email Kari Svanstrom, Planning Director, at Comments can also be submitted to City Hall at the address listed at the sidebar (there is a mail slot documents can be dropped through at any time).

Public Draft Review Documents

Public Draft Review Documents

Update November 22, 2022: The City has released a revised draft of the Housing Element and Technical Reports

The City’s draft housing element is avialable for review! The DRAFT has also been submitted to the State Housing And Community Development (HCD) for their review.

Background Information and Prior Meetings

Background Information and Prior Meetings

What is a Housing Element? Watch this short video to learn more about the Housing Element!

If you would like to be involved in future public meetings or events, please send us an email at

Public Meetings

Draft Housing Element Presentations

City Council Workshop – March 7, 2021

Planning Commission Workshop – held December 14, 2021

Joint Planning Commission – City Council Kick-Off Meeting – held September 28, 2021

Vacation Rentals

Vacation Rentals

The City discourages ‘non-hosted’ (full-time) vacation rentals, and requires a Conditional Use Permit for any new non-hosted, full-time vacation rentals.

We allow ‘hosted rentals’ (where the resident is present/residing at the home while a room or guest houst is being rented), but to require a permit for such rentals, and the rental must meet certain standards. See below for more information.

Park Planning

The Planning Department is also responsible for parks planning and grants, as well as planning and technical coordination for the Sonoma County Measure M “Parks for All” funding. The Department also manages the Community Garden Plots at the Skategarden Park. If you are interested in a plot, please contact

Current park planning projects include:

  • Ives Park Master Plan Implementation including Calder Creek naturalization, community sctulpture garden, and pathway replacement
  • the Americorp Trail extension project

Sonoma County Measure M Annual 2021/2022 Report Press Release

Ives Park

Ives Park Master Plan

In 2013, the City Council adopted a Master Plan for the revitalization of Ives Park. The City has been working towards implementing this vision, and has completed ADA (accessibility) upgrades to Ives Pool.

We are currently working on several other components of the Master Plan, including the planning for naturalization of Calder Creek. There will be several community meetings on this project, hosted by the Planning Commission, which also serves as the City’s Parks Commission.

Basis for design

Other Ives Park Projects include the recently opened Community Sculpture Garden project and a pathway replacement for the main trail through the park (set to go out to bid for construction in fall 2021):

Americorp Trail

The City received a matching grant from Sonoma County Ag + Open space to extend this trail, which starts just south of the community center on Morris Street, along the west side of the Laguna channel, to Sebastopol Avenue. The overview map of this project can be found here.

Libby Park Playground

The Libby Park Playground was recently replaced using a Prop 68 State Grant, as well as donations through the City’s Rotary Clubs.

Other Parks

The Department maintains a summary of the City’s Parks facilities.





Where can I find the e-permitting portal?
How do I find my property’s zoning information?
What uses are allowed on my property?
Where can I find the Sebastopol Municipal Code (General Ordinances)?
How long will it take to process my planning application?
How do I file an appeal of a recent staff, Board, Committee or Commission decision?
What are the fence regulations for a single-family home?
What are the setbacks for my residential property?
Where do I apply for a building permit?
Can I look at a planning file?

Department Staff

David Woltering

Interim Planning Director

TEL: (707) 823-6167
FAX: (707) 823-1135

John Jay

Associate Planner

Nzuzi Mahungu

Planning Technician