The City of Fresno uses a variety of long-range plans to chart a successful future for Fresno. Some plans look at the entire city, while others may focus on a district or neighborhood. The Development Code (aka Zoning Ordinance) implements the land use component of these plans by regulating the development of property into houses, apartments, shopping centers, and mixed use neighborhoods as envisioned in the long range-plans.
Long-Range Plans and the Development Code
California State Law requires every city and county to adopt a comprehensive General Plan to guide its future development. The General Plan essentially serves as a “constitution for development”— the document that serves as the foundation for all land use decisions. Every jurisdiction’s General Plan includes seven required “Elements” that are mandated by State law; local governments may adopt additional optional Elements to address local priorities and planning goals.
The Fresno General Plan was adopted on December 18, 2014. It is forward‐looking, comprehensive, and long‐range. It supports the community’s vision to preserve the desirable qualities that make the city of Fresno an ideal place to live, work, and play. The Plan recommends strategies to address prevalent existing conditions and trends that impede achieving and maintaining greater human, community, environmental, and economic health and prosperity. The Plan envisions Fresno as a vibrant, growing city, infused with a sense of heritage and community.
The Plan describes a balanced city with an appropriate proportion of its growth and reinvestment focused in the central core, Downtown, established neighborhoods, and along Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors. A successful and vibrant Downtown is necessary to attract investment needed for infill development and rehabilitation of established neighborhoods, which are priorities for the Plan.
Balancing a vibrant Downtown will be self‐sufficient suburban Development Areas. This will result in a city with a revitalized Downtown and established neighborhoods and with livable new suburban neighborhoods supporting one another.
- City of Fresno General Plan (181.81 MB)
- General Plan Table of Contents
- General Plan Introduction
- Economic Development
- Urban Form
- Mobility and Transportation
- Parks, Open Space, & Schools
- Public Utilities and Services
- Resource Conservation & Resilience
- Historic and Cultural Resources
- Noise & Safety
- Healthy Communities
- Housing Element Consistency
Citywide Development Code
On December 3, 2015, the City of Fresno adopted a new Development Code. This code replaced the former code in its entirety. It establishes new zone districts, permitted uses, development standards, and procedures in a contemporary, well-organized, and comprehensive manner.
Download complete Code
Download individual sections:
Part I: General Provisions
Part II: Base and Overlay Districts
Part III: Regulations Applying to Some or All Districts
Part IV: Land Divisions
Part V: Administration
Part VI: General Terms and Definitions
(Please note that Sections 15-1004-E, 15-1005, 15-1104-F, and 15-1105 are not in effect until March 6, 2016.)
Why Was the Development Code Updated?
Like most cities, Fresno has a Development Code, also known as the Zoning Ordinance. The Code is the DNA of the city. It provides rules for development which ensure that Fresno’s growth will take place in an attractive, orderly manner. What parts of the city should have housing, and where are retail businesses allowed? Where can they be mixed together? The Development Code establishes these rules.
In December of 2014, the City Council adopted a new General Plan, which is the grand vision for Fresno’s next twenty years. Normally, the Development Code is an essential tool for implementing this vision, but the former Code had not been updated since the early 1960s and didn’t reflect the fact that tastes and needs have changed over the past five decades. Although there had been several piecemeal efforts to make modifications to the 1962 Code, such amendments resulted in a fragmented code that was difficult to comprehend. A fresh start was needed in order to implement the new vision.
The new code reflects contemporary planning and business practices and sets clear, but fair, criteria for new development. Proposals that conform to the new vision will have a streamlined approval process, which will boost economic development. In addition, infill has never been as feasible in Fresno as it will be under the new Development Code, ensuring that we have balanced growth in the coming years.
For more information on why the Code was updated and how the new Code works, see the User’s Guide to the New Development Code .
The Adoption Process and Associated Materials
Preliminary work on the new Code began in 2010. City staff, consultants, and local stakeholders worked for several years to construct a draft that would achieve the vision of the General Plan, meet local market conditions, would be far easier to use than the old Code. On March 31, 2015 the Public Review Draft of the new Development Code was released. The public comment period was open until June 1. During this period, the City received more than 40 comment letters with over 400 individual suggestions. Staff assessed all of them and incorporated many into the Planning Commission and City Council Review Draft, which was released on September 11, 2015 (Clean Version | Redline Version ).
Click on the following links for additional materials which were released with the September 11 draft to help explain a) how the new Development Code will work and b) what had changed since the March 31 Public Review Draft.
The Planning Commission held a hearing on September 30, 2015 and recommended approval of the draft with changes .
The City Council held workshops on the Code on November 3 and 12. A hearing to receive public comment was held on the evening of November 12. The Code was considered by the Council and approved for introduction on November 19. The second reading and adoption of the Code was December 3rd.
During the November 19 hearing, the Council tabled sections 15-1004-E, 15-1005, 15-1104-F, and 15-1105 with instruction to revise and reintroduce them within 30 days. The sections were brought back before the Council on December 17 where they were continued to a future hearing.
On December 3, changes were made by the Council to sections 15-1102 (small scale entertainment in the Neighborhood Mixed-Use district), 15-2741, Mobile Vendors, and 15-2750, Recycling Facilities. These changes were adopted on their second reading on December 17, 2015.
Downtown Plans and Code
Downtown Fresno transforming
For several years local and national experts have been working with elected officials and residents to craft and implement plans for the renaissance of Downtown Fresno and the surrounding neighborhoods. Fresno’s historic development patterns and current market conditions, as well as best practices from across the nation, were explored in depth in order to find the best way forward. The result is four comprehensive documents that will guide us to a revival of the heart of our city. The Downtown Plans and Code were adopted in October of 2016.
The Fulton Corridor Specific Plan presents an exciting vision for the heart of the city and a comprehensive program of projects, which will make that vision a reality.
The Fulton Corridor Specific Plan
The Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan assesses the conditions in several neighborhoods near Downtown and explores ways that they can be revitalized.
The Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan
The Downtown Development Code implements the vision of the two above plans by creating new regulations for private development. In the Downtown core, a form-based code is utilized which focuses on creating dense and attractive urban buildings that shape pleasing public spaces. In the neighborhoods, major streets are envisioned to transform into walkable mixed-use, multi-modal corridors, while residential areas will be preserved and enhanced with complimentary infill projects guided by the code.
The Downtown Development Code
View a zoning comparison map: compares Downtown’s new zoning with the former regulations
The Environment Impact Report assesses the plans and code subject to the California Environment Quality Act.
The Environment Impact Report (34 MB)
1 – Title Page
2 – Environment Impact Report Table of Contents
A – Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan
B – Fulton Corridor Specific Plan
C – Downtown Development Code
D – NOP and Scoping Comments
E – Air Quality
F – Biological Resources Inventory Results
G – Greenhouse Gas
H – Hazards
I – Noise Modeling
J – Traffic Data
K – Utility Technical Report
The City of Fresno is divided into nine plan areas.
Community Plan Boundary Map
Woodward Park Community Plan
Bullard Community Plan
West Area Community Plan
Fresno‐High Roeding Community Plan
Hoover Community Plan
McLane Community Plan
Roosevelt Community Plan
Edison Community Plan
Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan
Specific Plans focus on neighborhoods that contain certain characteristics that are deemed desirable or reflect a certain planning trend. In Fresno, these specific areas include:
All Specific Plans
Fresno‐Chandler Downtown Airport Master Plan
Fresno Yosemite International Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan
Fulton Corridor Specific Plan
Highway City Neighborhood
North Avenue Industrial Triangle
Sierra Sky Park Primary Review Area
Southwest Fresno Specific Plan
Sun Garden Acres Specific Plan
Tower District Specific Plan
Tower District Design Guidelines
Yosemite Specific Plan
Master Environmental Impact Report
Draft MEIR Sections
MEIR Table of Contents | MEIR Introduction | Executive Summary | Project Description | General Environmental Settings | Environmental Impact Analysis | Aesthetics | Agricultural | MEIR Air Quality | Biological Resources | Cultural Resources | Geology & Soils | Greenhouse Gases | Hazards & Hazardous Materials | Hydrology & Water Quality | Land Use | Noise | Population and Housing | Public Services | Transportation | Utilities MEIR | Energy | Other CEQA | Alternatives | Effects Found Not to be Significant | Information Resources
Draft MEIR Appendices
Appendix A – Notice of Preparation and Scoping – A-1 Notice of Preparation and Initial Study | A-2 Public Notice of NOP and Scoping Meeting | A-3 Comments Received on Notice of Preparation and Initial Study | A-4 Scoping Meeting Sign-In Sheet | A-5 Scoping Meeting Transcript
Appendix B – Air Quality – B-1 Criteria Pollutant Modeling
Appendix E – Geological Hazards Investigation – E-1 Geologic Hazards Investigation
Appendix F – Greenhouse Gases – F-1 Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions and Modeling Results | F-2 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan
Appendix G – Storm Drainage Technical Report – G-1 Storm Drainage Technical Report
Appendix H – Transportation – H-1 Roadway Classification | H-2 Existing Number of Lanes | H-3 AM Peak Hour Volumes and LOS – Existing | H-4 PM Peak Hour Volumes and LOS | H-5 Traffic Analysis Zones and Model Inputs | H-6 Roadway Functional Classifications | H-7 Planned Roadway Number of Lanes | H-8 AM Peak Hour Volumes and LOS – Existing + Project | H-9 PM Peak Hour Volumes and LOS – Existing + Project | H-10 AM Peak Hour Volumes and LOS – Cumulative | H-11 PM Peak Hour Volumes and LOS – Cumulative | H-12 Other Exhibits
Appendix I – Noise Modeling – I-1 Noise Modeling
Appendix J – Wastewater Technical Report – J-1 Wastewater Technical Report
Final MEIR Sections
Final Master Environmental Impact Report (FMEIR)
Amended Planned Land Use Requests – Environmental Evaluation for the MEIR
Amended Planned Land Use Requests – Environmental Evaluation for the MEIR