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About the Planning Commission

The Planning Commission consists of seven Marin County residents appointed by the Board of Supervisors.

This commission advises the Board on planning rules and regulations. They can also make decisions on Planning Permits and appeals of Planning Division decisions. The Planning Commission holds public hearings to discuss and decide on these matters. 

Learn more about the Planning Commission

Most meetings happen on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. Alternative dates occur as needed. We post hearing agendas in two physical locations at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael:

  • The bulletin board next to Room 308.
  • The bulletin board at the Hall of Justice Lobby.

Public notices occur in other ways as well. This may include:

The Planning Commission plays a big role in shaping our land use policies and making decisions on proposed projects. They hold public hearings to consider various plans and projects. Here are some examples of what they consider:

  • Changes to our policy plans like the Countywide Plan, Community Plans, and zoning rules. They make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for final approval.
  • Complex projects that involve big policy changes, like Rezonings and Master Plans. They make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for final approval.
  • Planning Permit Applications that involve considerable controversy or complex policy issues. They can make decisions on permit applications if our Director warrants their consideration.
  • Appeals of decisions made by staff or the Deputy Zoning Administrator. 

Here’s a summary of a typical Planning Commission hearing in Marin County.

Initial transactions. They start the meeting with routine business. They:

  • Approve minutes from past meetings
  • Get updates from the Planning Director
  • Disclose certain communications
  • And allow public comments on non-agenda items.

Introduction to agenda items. For each agenda item, they announce the topic and ask anyone who wants to speak to fill out a form. If you plan on speaking, you’ll fill out the form and give it to the Planning Commission Secretary.

Staff presentation. A staff member will give a presentation on the item. Some hearings can be informational, like a workshop on upcoming policy changes. For permit applications or appeals, staff will give an overview of the proposal. They will then provide a recommendation for the Commission to consider.

Public hearing. Members of the public can participate in public hearings. The Chair of the commission will set how much time participants can speak. They will then call up speakers using the speaker cards. 

For non-permit related hearings, this is when the public can speak and make comments. 

For appeals, the Chairperson will set how much time participants can speak. A usual appeal hearing provides:

  • 10 minutes for the appellant(s), who goes first.
  • 10 minutes for the applicant(s), who goes next. 
  • 5 minutes for groups and organizations.
  • 3 minutes for individual speakers.

Every speaker must address the Commission once. This means that speakers can’t testify more than once or make rebuttals. Speakers also must direct questions or comments to the Chairperson. They will direct them to the right person. 

Planning Commission decisions. After closing the public hearing section, the Planning Commission will:

  • Discuss the item.
  • Ask staff questions.
  • Express their opinions.

They will then take a vote on an action. This could be to make a decision that follows staff’s recommendation. They could adjust staff’s recommendation. They could also disagree with staff and make a different decision. 

In some cases, they will continue an item to a future meeting. This could allow for the submittal of more information or analysis. For permits, they could allow the applicant to revise their proposal if issues come up.

Final decisions and minutes of hearings are available on the Planning Commission Hearings webpage for upcoming and past hearings.

Here are some tips for participating at a hearing:

  • Be brief and organized. Stick to the time limit and focus on your most important points. Don't repeat what you already submitted in writing.
  • Follow along. Pay attention to the staff report and the Commission’s discussions. This will help focus your comments.
  • Focus on what matters. Avoid going off-topic or repeating what others have said. State the decision you want the Commission to make.
  • Limit private contact with Commissioners. Avoid talking with Commissioners in private about hearing items. This can jeopardize the fairness of the hearing. Decisions should come from what’s presented in public.
  • Submit written comments in advance (if possible). Staff will publish a staff report a week before a hearing. The Commission also receives a copy ahead of the hearing. It’s best to provide your comments to staff before we publish the staff report. This gives the Commission more time to consider your input. Aim for 10 days or more before the meeting. If you bring written comments to the hearing, bring 10 copies.

Before the hearing, they review the staff report and other information in the record in depth. They may also conduct a site visit for proposed projects to get a feel of the proposal and surrounding area. Site visits are not public meetings or hearings. Commissioners do not accept testimony during these visits. This is to make sure the public hearing process is open and fair to all. We limit these site visits to staff and project applicants to provide factual descriptions of the property or project.

Planning Commission decisions are appealable to the Board of Supervisors. The appeal period of decisions made on projects outside of the Coastal Zone is 8 working days. The appeal period of decisions made on projects in the Coastal Zone is 10 working days.

The Board will then consider an appeal within its 8th regular meeting from the appeal filing.

Learn more about submitting a Petition for Appeal. 

The Board of Supervisor's oversees the Planning Commission.  

Here's an overview about the Planning Commission.

Composition. The Board of Supervisors appoints seven members. One member is from each of the five supervisorial districts, and two are at-large members.

Term length. 4-year term for each Supervisorial District representative; 2-year term for each at-large representative.

Reimbursements For expenses/per diem. Each member receives $100 per diem per meeting.

How to apply. Apply with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors. You can do this by:

  • Visiting Room 329 at the Marin County Civic Center
    3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael CA 94903.
  • Calling the Clerk's office at 415-473-7331. Dial 711 for CA Relay
  • Using the General Application online.

Get more detail about all Board of Supervisor's Boards and Commissions.

Send your correspondence to the Planning Commission Secretary by email, by phone at 415-473-6268, dial 711 for CA Relay, or by mail:

Planning Commission Secretary
Community Development Agency
3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 308
San Rafael, CA 94903


Page updated May 16, 2024