Zoning Ordinance

The Zoning Ordinance is that part of the Municipal Code that contains the regulations that pertain to land use in the City. Included in the Zoning Ordinance are the requirements regarding use, density, intensity, setbacks, signs, accessory structures and uses and other land use matters. The Zoning Ordinance can be found in Chapter 17 of the Municipal Code.

In Sebastopol, the key instrument of development regulation are the zoning regulations. Zoning is used by cities and counties to regulate where residential, commercial, industrial, and other uses may be located, and controls the size and types of such uses. In Sebastopol, two linked elements establish zoning regulations for property in the City: the zoning map, and the zoning ordinance.

Sebastopol’s zoning map establishes the zoning of every lot in the city including single family residential zones, several multi-family zones, and commercial and industrial areas of the City.

The City zoning ordinance describes allowable uses, the height and density of development, and establishes the process by which development applications are processed.

To find out what can be built on a lot, both the zoning map and the zoning ordinance must be reviewed. Copies of both can be reviewed or purchased at the Planning counter, or you may review the on-line copy of the zoning ordinance on our Web site. The zoning map, available at our offices, will show the zoning of the property, but it will not be indicated what can be built there. The zoning ordinance provides this information.


The zoning ordinance was developed after adoption of a new General Plan in 1994, after many public hearings and workshops before the Planning Commission and the City Council. Under the ordinance, certain types of projects can be approved administratively while others require hearings before the Design Review Board, Planning Commission, Tree Board, or City Council.

The zoning ordinance is intended to provide predictability for property owners, developers and citizens, while protecting the character, environment, and vitality of the city. Certain classes of development are prohibited by the ordinance, and others require discretionary review, with the opportunity for public comment, and special conditions of approval.

The rules established by the zoning ordinance can only be changed by the City Council after hearings by the Planning Commission and City Council.

For more information about planning regulations, or to find out about a specific development project, please contact the Planning Department.