Clarify the Vision Early

Jurisdictions can guide placemaking and design quality through articulation of the vision to citizens, developers, and staff in all city departments by establishing design recommendations, or guidelines, early on in the process. The development of guidelines should be clearly stated in the General Plan and supported by appropriate zoning regulations. Jurisdictions can then conduct developer outreach to convey the community vision early in the development process.


Create and distribute best practice development guidelines to give developers an idea of what good design is for projects within the city. This allows developers to formulate proposals that meet the city’s vision of good development. Agencies may consider providing developers with “staff reports” on previous projects to give them information on the City’s response to previous projects and their designs.

Create design guidelines to articulate the community’s vision for specific districts. While there is no specific format for design guidelines, they usually identify non-quantifiable provisions, leaving the numeric standards for the zoning regulations.

  • Coordinate zoning standards and other development regulations with design guidelines for consistency.
  • Balance standards with guidelines to allow for flexibility and creativity in the design process.
Design Guidelines
Policy & Implementation
The Role of Local Government & Transit First Policies
Guiding Principles of Land Use
Flexible Zoning Strategies
Street Design Implementation
Revising Transportation Analysis Practices
Transportation Demand Management
Rethinking Vehicle Parking Requirements
Parking Management
Best Practices to Attract Successful Developers
Clarifying Design Expectations
Integrating Retail into Transit Oriented Development
Community Planning for Rail Transit
Additional Resources
Graphic showing two pages of a helpful memo with callouts showing the important elements
Metrolinx Mobility Hub Guidelines (Source: IBI Group)