Public Participation


The City of Berkeley welcomes and encourages public participation in the planning and development process.  There are many ways in which to get involved.  Most planning and development processes in Berkeley involve one or more commissions, taskforces, boards or another public body appointed by the City Council.  One way to get involved is to apply to be a member of one of these appointed bodies. Link to City Clerk’s Commissions’ page

Policy Development

The City’s development is guided by policies adopted by the City Council, such as the General Plan.  The development of these policies almost always begins with a City Commission, task force or other process where the public is invited to participate.  Public workshops are a common form of public engagement.  Any upcoming workshops are shown on the Planning Department’s web page.  At every meeting of an appointed commission, Board or taskforce, there is time set aside for the public to comment on any subject not already on the agenda for a public hearing.  Please click on Commissions/Boards/Taskforces and then on a particular body for a schedule of its meetings.  Finally, prior to recommending changes to ordinances or adopting new policy documents, there is a noticed public hearing on the recommended changes where public testimony is welcomed.

Development Project Review 

Some types of development and uses are allowed “as-of-right,” meaning that no public review is required so long as the proposed project or use conforms to the requirements of the zoning ordinance.  However, many proposed development projects or new businesses require some level of “discretionary review,” meaning they are subject to public notice to neighbors and a public hearing.  When a project is subject to discretionary review, there are often numerous opportunities for public participation.






A majority of the Landmarks Preservation Commissioners or a petition with 50 signatures can “initiate” a structure to be a City of Berkeley Landmark or Structure of Merit (Landmarks Preservation Commission).  The property owners’ approval of such initiation or designation is not required, nor is notice required prior to initiation.  Once initiated, the designation process requires a significant amount of work from community members in documenting the historic significance of a structure prior to the LPC taking action on a proposed designation.

Once a property is initiated, a public hearing is required prior to any action to designate a property as a landmark or structure of merit.  Either designation or failure to designate by the LPC can be appealed to the City Council.