Downtown Design Guidelines and Architectural Standards

Project Updates and Upcoming Events:

The City hosted a second series of outreach and events in December 2020 to gather input on the draft downtown design standards and guidelines which will regulate the look and feel of buildings in downtown San Marcos. We want to thank all who participated in these events! A summary of the input received can be found here.

A Final Draft is being created incorporating the community input. This final draft will be presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council for consideration and adoption. More information on the final draft and how to participate in the upcoming meetings can be found here.

Upcoming Meeting Dates

  • Tuesday, February 9 at 6 p.m. Virtual - Planning and Zoning Commission Public Hearing and Consideration of Final Draft. (The Planning and Zoning Commission Recommended approval of the Final Draft with amendments as outlined here)
  • Tuesday, February 16 at 3 p.m. Virtual - City Council Work Session (CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER)
  • Tuesday, March 2 at 6 p.m. Virtual - City Council Public Hearing and 1st Reading of Final Draft
  • Tuesday, March 16 at 6 p.m. Virtual - City Council Final Consideration of Final Draft

About the Update to the Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards

In 2012, the City contracted with Winter & Company to develop and adopt Downtown Design Guidelines and Architectural Standards to regulate the look and feel of new buildings in the downtown area. As presented in 2012, the purpose of the design standards was "to enhance the effectiveness of the Smartcode in downtown by adding context-sensitive design standards, supplemented with design guidelines for special cases, and revising the signage standards for the downtown area." The standards and guidelines adopted in 2012 were carried over into the new San Marcos Development Code in 2018 and into Appendix A of the San Marcos Design Manual. Both standards and guidelines are utilized when reviewing new development in the downtown area.

2020 Update

In January, 2020, the San Marcos City Council provided direction to update the design standards and guidelines using the guidance of the previous consultants, Winter & Company. The update to the design standards and guidelines is intended to include new standards to address design issues, new graphics to clearly illustrate the standards and guidelines, and shall be tailored to various contexts within downtown.

Project FAQ: Learn more about the project and get familiar with architectural design!

Key topics to be addressed include:
  • Massing of larger buildings to promote compatibility with traditional scale of downtown;
  • Variety in articulation of facades to be more in scale with design traditions;
  • Treatment of building materials;
  • Street level design to provide sense of place and activate the public realm; and
  • Transitions from higher density zones to abutting sensitive edges.