Design standards are "objective" if they are measurable, verifiable, and knowable to all parties prior to project submittal. A planning review process based on objective design standards involves no personal or subjective judgment by a public official.
In contrast, subjective design guidelines often require interpretation and discretion. A planning review based on subjective guidelines can be a more time-consuming and less predictable process of discovery and evaluation.
- Example of an objective design standard: "minimum front setback: 4 feet."
- Example of a subjective design guideline: “front yard setback consistent with the character of the neighborhood.” This requires a discretionary review and determination as to what “consistent with the character of the neighborhood” means.
Objective design standards hold a promise to be a more efficient, predictable, and equitable path to obtaining and granting of planning approvals for a wide variety of development projects, especially for affordable housing projects. Read more about objective design standards here.