Sutter County Zoning Code Update
What is the Zoning Code?
In California, the use and development of property are generally regulated by zoning laws. These laws are
contained in a zoning code, zoning ordinance, development code, or similar code. Sutter County’s zoning
regulations are located in its Zoning Code consisting of Chapter 15 of the Sutter County Ordinance Code.
A zoning map divides the County into various zoning districts, and text is included in the Zoning Code
that establishes the regulations associated with each district.
The Zoning Code acts as an implementation tool for the land uses and policies established by the County’s
General Plan. While the General Plan presents a broad vision and policies for the County, the Zoning Code
designates permitted uses and provides specific development standards and regulations for various uses on
individual parcels. Zoning regulations affect land use, design, parcel size, building heights, density,
setbacks, landscaping, fencing, and other aspects of property use. For example, the Zoning Code specifies
how tall commercial buildings can be or how far houses should be set back from the street.
What is the Zoning Code Update?
An update of the Sutter County Zoning Code was initiated by the Board of Supervisors in the fall of 2012,
with the goal of reflecting the County’s current General Plan vision (adopted in March 2011) into the
Zoning Code to ensure consistency between the two documents. The existing Zoning Code was initially prepared
in 1990 and has been amended numerous times since. In addition to ensuring consistency with the General Plan,
the new Zoning Code will also respond to contemporary planning and zoning best practices, ensure compliance
with applicable federal and State laws, introduce additional flexibility in some areas or more certainty in
others, and be easy to use and understood by all users. This will enable expedited service to residents,
businesses, property owners, and developers.
How are we updating the Zoning Code?
The Sutter County Zoning Code update will take approximately 14 months to complete, with adoption hearings
anticipated to occur at the end of 2013. The process will be accomplished in eight tasks. After
initiation of the project, we will identify issues to be addressed including
areas of inconsistencies with the Sutter County General Plan and conflicts with legal requirements, documenting
these issues in a matrix. We will then establish the organization and format of the new Code,
determining the sections that will need to be changed, moved or created. Next, we will identify options for
various zoning districts and permitted uses within each district. Some of the existing zoning
districts are difficult to use and these will be simplified, while others are now obsolete and will be removed.
Development standards and regulations will then be determined for each zoning district
including parcel size, setbacks, lot coverage, and building heights. We will also create or revise standards for
parking, signs, landscaping, screening, fencing and other provisions. Appropriate Zoning Code processes
and procedures will be determined, as well as administration of the Code including
interpretations and enforcement. Environmental review of the County’s new Zoning Code will be
prepared, followed by adoption hearings for the County Board of Supervisors to consider the new
During four of the primary tasks (i.e., identifying issues, district and uses, standards and regulations, and
process and administration), we will have workshops with the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to
solicit input and final direction on each key section of the new Zoning Code. These workshops are open to the
public and provide opportunities for community input. You have the chance to help shape the County’s new
Why is the Zoning Code Update important to me?
Some of the County’s existing zoning regulations are dated, cumbersome, and don’t reflect current objectives
and needs. An updated Zoning Code will add clarity and certainty, as well as be easier for residents, business
owners, property owners, developers, staff and decision makers to use and understand. This will enable us to
expedite service to you. An updated Zoning Code will also help make the Sutter County General Plan vision a
reality by preserving existing neighborhoods and protecting agricultural operations, while allowing new
businesses and job growth. In addition, overall development quality, design, and review processes in Sutter
aCounty will be enhanced with updated regulations.