Municipal Code section 21.23B.030 (A), lists the types of projects that are subject to a Development Plan review. There are some minor differences in the findings required for a project located in the Planned Development Overlay District (link to findings) and the findings for a project that requires a Development Plan approval. Either way, the application is called a PD and allows for flexibility in design as listed under the description for a Planned Development (link).
The following are projects that are subject to the Development Plan requirement:
Development Projects (All Types) subject to Environmental Review. Any development application, even a Minor Site Plan which normally could be approved by the Development Review Committee, must be approved by the Planning Commission as a PD application if it does not qualify for a categorical exemption from environmental review under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act.) (future link to CEQA info).
Any project that involves adding new multi-family residential units that will result in 5 or more units per lot (even if the first four units are existing and the project consists of adding a fifth unit to the lot) requires Development Plan approval and findings under a PD application. A Development plan approval is also required for any subdivision in a multi-family zone in which the number of units that could be developed is five or more.
New Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional Projects of 10,000 square feet or more (gross) require Development Plan approval and findings. Also, projects of less than 10,000 square feet if all necessary infrastructure has not been installed, all necessary dedications have not been made, or special conditions are necessary.
Pre-Grading. Pre-grading of a site without any accompanying development plans where the surface area to be graded is greater than 20,000 square feet requires Development Plan approval and findings to be made by the Planning Commission.