Alternative Development Standards & Variances

Minor deviations from the Rancho Santa Margarita Zoning Code may be granted through the approval of an Alternative Development Standard.  In addition, deviations from the City's Zoning Code due to an undue hardship may be approved through a Variance.  Both requests require review and approval of the Planning Commission. In order to apply for an Alternative Development Standard or a Variance, a completed Development Case Application (PDF) is required along with the appropriate deposits and fees. Please contact the Planning Division at 949-635-1800 extension 6701 for more information regarding Alternative Development Standards and Variances.


Types of Alternative Development Standards


Alternative Development Standards may be approved in the following circumstances:
  • Reduction of setbacks, maximum lot area or minimum floor area by no more than 10%
  • Residential rear yard setbacks by no more than 20%
  • Increases in fence height for side and rear yards by no more than 1 foot
  • Increases in nonresidential building heights for architectural features by not more than 10 feet
  • Variations from landscaping and screening requirements
  • Variations from sign standards
  • Reduction in parking requirements by no more than 10%

Types of Variances


Variances may be approved in excess of the reductions allowed under an Alternative Development Standard provided each of the following findings can be made:
  • There are special circumstances associated with the property (i.e., size, shape, topography, location or surroundings) that would deprive the property of the same privileges enjoyed by other properties in the vicinity within the same zoning district. Economic hardship is not considered an appropriate special circumstance.
  • The variance will not constitute a grant of special privileges inconsistent with the limitations upon other properties in the vicinity and within the zoning district.
  • The variance will not result in development that is inconsistent with the Zoning Code or the General Plan.
  • The variance will not create unusual noise, traffic, or other conditions that may be objectionable, detrimental or incompatible with surrounding uses.
  • The variance will not result in conditions or circumstances contrary to the public health and safety and the general welfare of the community.