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San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan
The purpose of the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan is to articulate a vision for the future of San Pablo Avenue, identify improvements, and adopt context-sensitive regulations that can be applied along its length and to adjacent areas. The Plan creates a framework for transforming the Avenue into a multimodal corridor that functions, not just as a thoroughfare, but as a place that provides a multitude of opportunities for living, working and community life. The Plan's key principles are to deepen a sense of place and community identity, attract private investment, strengthen partnerships, enhance the public realm, promote the everyday use of transit, walking, and biking, and foster environmental sustainability.

Download the draft San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan:
This document has been divided for easier downloading:

Cover and Table of Contents (PDF)

Chapter 1. Introduction (PDF)
Chapter 2. Form Based Code Chapter (PDF)
Chapter 3. Complete Streets Chapter (PDF)
Chapter 4. Infrastructure Analysis (PDF)
Appendix (PDF)

Comments on the Draft Specific Plan will be taken through July 21, 2014. Any written comments should be received at 10890 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, CA 94530 or sent to Melanie Mintz during the public review period.  Please see the meeting schedule below for opportunities to provide oral comments.  
Download the Draft Environmental Impact Report:
This document has been divided for easier downloading:

San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan Draft EIR (PDF)
Appendix (PDF)
Attachment 1: CalEEMOD Worksheets
Attachment 2: Transportation Analysis

PUBLIC REVIEW PERIOD: The 45-day public review period for the Draft EIR will commence on June 3, 2014 and end on July 21, 2014 for interested individuals and public agencies to submit written comments on the document. Any written comments on the Draft EIR must be received at 10890 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, CA 94530 or sent to Margaret Kavanaugh-Lynch within the public review period.  Please see the meeting schedule below for opportunities to provide oral comments.  

Copies of the Draft Specific Plan and Draft EIR are available for review at the El Cerrito City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito; Richmond City Hall, 450 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond; and at the El Cerrito Branch of the Contra Costa County Library at 6510 Stockton Avenue, El Cerrito. 

Referenced technical reports used in the preparation of the Draft EIR that are not included as appendices may be reviewed at City Hall upon request.

Please note the following key dates for Plan review and comment: 

  • July 9th, 7:00 pm: Draft EIR Public Meeting at City Hall
  • July 16th, 7:3o pm: Planning Commission Workshop
  • September 4th: Special Planning Commission Meeting to consider Recommending the Specific Plan to City Council
  • September 22nd: City Council Meeting to consider Adoption of the Specific Plan (First Reading)
All meetings, unless otherwise specified, will take place at City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Avenue and will be noticed in accordance with the City's Municipal Code. Contact Emily Alter if you would like to be added to the City's notification list for the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan.

San Pablo Avenue proposed streetscape graphics


The San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan is a multi-year planning effort between the Cities of El Cerrito and Richmond to create a shared vision for the future of the Avenue, identify improvements, and adopt  regulations that can be applied consistently across the planning area. The Plan was developed with significant input from the community and key stakeholders, who attended workshops, design charrettes, and regularly occurring meetings throughout the planning process.


A Specific Plan is a tool used to study, envision, and create guidelines and standards specific to a portion of the city. The San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan is the result of a multi-year planning effort, which began in 2007, that has gone through numerous iterations to remain responsive to changing market conditions, community priorities, regional efforts, and planning best practices. The San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan consists of three primary chapters:

  • Form-Based Code: A Form-Based Code regulates development to achieve a specific urban form. On San Pablo Avenue, the proposed form aims to support both residential and commercial uses in an urban environment supported by vibrant local businesses, numerous on-street amenities, landscaping, public open spaces, and a built environment that celebrates El Cerrito's cultural and historic resources.  The proposed Form-Based Code building heights, parking, open space, building placement, form, articulation and character requirements, and prescribes allowed land uses.
  • Complete Streets Plan: A Complete Streets Plan looks to match the needs of all travelers to the uses surrounding the street in order to provide safe travel for all. The City’s Complete Streets Plan addresses circulation and public investment needs along San Pablo Avenue and adjoining streets to attract new users to the Avenue while proactively mitigating the impacts of future population growth on mobility in the Plan area.
  • Infrastructure Analysis: The purpose of the infrastructure analysis is to: 1) identify the utility providers for San Pablo Avenue; 2) provide a general review of capacity limitations; and, 3) recommend feasible improvements and associated costs, to avoid significant impacts on the level of service that El Cerrito residents have come to rely on.


The Specific Plan area incorporates the length of San Pablo Avenue (State Route 123) from Baxter Creek Gateway Park in the north to the City's border with Albany in the south and includes parcels in both El Cerrito and Richmond; the Plan area extends west along Central Avenue to the I-80 Freeway and east to the BART tracks. The Plan area represents the City of El Cerrito’s Priority Development Area (PDA) based on its location adjacent to El Cerrito Plaza and del Norte BART stations and along San Pablo Avenue, which is well served by AC Transit. The area is characterized by strong existing public infrastructure and underutilized, large surface parking lots.


The Plan is scheduled to be considered by City Council in September 2014 and represents a planning horizon through 2040. Public comments on the draft Specific Plan and draft Environmental Impact Report pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act are being accepted through July 18th.


The Specific Planning process began as an attempt to catalyze the economic revitalization of San Pablo Avenue by capturing the potential for transit-oriented development around the City’s two BART stations. Since the process began in 2007, a number of local and regional planning efforts have taken place to re-shape the approach and development parameters of the Plan. For more information on these efforts, please follow the links below:


The Plan was developed with funding from the City of El Cerrito former Redevelopment Agency, Municipal Services Corporation, and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority/Measure J Sales Tax.

Additional Information

July 2 - Design Review Board Workshop Design Review Board Presentation Design Review Board Staff Report November 5 - City Council Specific Plan and MMLOS Study Session
City Council Agenda Bill
            City Council Presentation
November 20 - Specific Plan Planning Commission Meeting
Planning Commission Presentation
October 19 - 4-Plan Community Open House
Open House Presentation - large PDF
San Pablo Avenue - Urban Form Posters
San Pablo Avenue - Complete Streets Posters

Background Documents

April 2, 2013 - City Council Specific Plan Update
City Council Agenda Bill
City Council Presentation
July 17, 2013 - Planning Commission Specific Plan Update
 Planning Commission Agenda Bill
November 2012 - 
Development Feasibility Analysis
Development Feasibility Presentation
November 2011 - 
Parking Study
Parking Study Presentation
March 7, 2011 - City Council Specific Plan Update and Council Direction
City Council Agenda Bill
City Council Presentation
August 2007 - 
Draft Existing Conditions Report

For more information...
For more information about the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan, please contact Melanie Mintz, Interim Community Development Director at 510-215-4339.