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Fallbrook Design Review Committee procedures explained for property, business owners


Last updated 4/17/2014 at Noon

Reviewing building aesthetics, landscaping, signs, and other aspects of site plans is something the Fallbrook Design Review Committee is responsible for.

FALLBROOK – Many people have heard about the Fallbrook Design Review Committee, but what their role is in the community and what they actually do is often a source of misinformation and misconceptions. The Village News requested the following information from the committee on its operation in order to better inform local residents.

“The Design Review Committee is not code enforcement. Contrary to what people may think, they are not the ‘sign police.’ They don’t go around looking for or reporting violations. They don’t file code complaints, do sign abatement or report sign violations. This is the function is of the County of San Diego Code Compliance Department and sometimes the County’s Department of Public Works.

The Design Review Committee is a sub-committee of the Fallbrook Community Planning Group, which is also the Fallbrook Design Review Board. The chairman is Jim Russell. The Planning Group/Design Review Board is comprised of 15 elected community members

The Design Review Committee consists of seven elected Planning Group members and four appointed community members. It is chaired by Eileen Delaney. The committee reports to the Planning Group/ Design Review Board.”


“The Fallbrook design guidelines were written in the late 1980s by the County of San Diego, with input from Fallbrook residents and business owners who were concerned about preserving the town’s rural community character. They cover building aesthetics, landscaping, signs, and many other aspects of site plans. They were enacted by the San Diego Board of Supervisors in 1989.

The Fallbrook Design Review Board was established at this same time by the County Board of Supervisors. Fallbrook citizens were appointed by the Supervisors to serve as members and review projects and signs for compliance with the Design Guidelines.

About twelve years ago the Supervisors asked the Fallbrook Planning Group to also serve as the Fallbrook Design Review Board. It was at this time that the Design Review Committee was formed as the fifth sub-committee of the Planning Group. The other committees are Land Use, Circulation, Parks and Recreation, and Public Facilities Committees.”

The role of the Design Review Committee

“The Design Review Committee makes recommendations to the Planning Group on projects which include commercial and industrial buildings, site plans, signs and other projects requiring building permits in areas that have a B zoning designator. These recommendations are based on the review of the Fallbrook Design Guidelines and the Fallbrook Design Checklist. The Fallbrook Community Planning Group makes the final recommendation to the county.”

The process

“When an applicant submits building or sign plans to the County’s Planning Development Services, the zoning department checks to see if the zoning has a B Designator. If it does, the project plans are forwarded to Chairman Jim Russell. Russell then assigns it to the Design Review Committee’s agenda for their next meeting.

At the Design Review Committee meeting, the applicant presents the project and the committee reviews the project. They determine if it complies with the design guidelines. All members discuss it and then each member has a vote on a recommendation which will be presented to the full planning group.

At the Planning Group/Design Review Board meeting, the applicant again presents their project. The chair of the Design Review Committee presents the committee’s report and recommendation on their behalf. The Planning Group discusses it and a vote is taken on the final recommendation. This recommendation is then sent back to the county. The county has the final say on whether or not a project or a sign is approved.

Both the Design Review Committee and the planning group meetings are open to the public and public input is always welcome.”

Updates are needed

“The Fallbrook Design Review Committee and the Planning Group know that there is a need for the design guidelines to be updated, particularly the sign guidelines. They believe that this is important to Fallbrook’s businesses and organizations. They have made this request to the County on many occasions.

In 2013, the Design Review Committee and the Planning Group were able to complete what is called the Fallbrook Design Checklist. The purpose of the checklist is to save applicants time and money. Fallbrook was the first unincorporated community in the county to complete their checklist and it was used as an example to other communities

In January 2014, the Board of Supervisors enacted a new program which allows signs in the public right-of-way for non-profit community organizations. Members of the Design Review Committee took an active role in working with county staff on this important sign program.

The Design Review Committee recently held a meeting with many community organizations to discuss this new sign program. They are continuing to work with the County to bring the costs down and make it easier for Fallbrook’s organizations to get signs for their organizations and events.

The next community meeting is planned for Thursday, April 24 at 10 a.m. The location is the Fallbrook Public Utility District boardroom.”


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