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Objective Design Standards and Streamlined Project Review

Oakland is starting a process to develop procedures, regulations, and objective design and development standards to streamline the approval of residential, mixed-use, and commercial building types.

Request for Proposals (RFP)

The City of Oakland is looking for qualified firms or consultant teams to submit proposals to provide technical expertise in the creation of Objective Design Standards and in the recommendation of regulatory changes to streamline project review procedures.


Consultants who wish to participate in the RFP process are required to register with iSupplier to download the RFP, receive addenda, updates, announcements, and other notifications. For further information and detailed iSupplier registration instructions, please visit the How to Register with iSupplier webpage. If you have any additional questions about iSupplier registration process, please email

For questions or comments about the RFP, please email


Proposals are due by 2:00 pm PST on Friday, March 25, 2022. All proposals must be submitted electronically via iSupplier


Is your Firm interested in being part of the Objective Design Standards Consultant Team? Fill out this Expression of Interest form to download the RFP and register to be included on our interested parties list. The City of Oakland will share the list on a rolling basis here to make it easier for interested firms to connect and to form teams.


The pre-proposal meeting for interested consultants was held on Friday, February 25th at 2 PM via Zoom. A presentation deck that was shared during the meeting can be reviewed here.

Meeting ID: 869 4910 1921. Passcode: 850319

Or join the meeting via phone using the following numbers:

888 475 4499 US Toll-free or 833 548 0276 US Toll-free

Why is Oakland Undertaking This Effort?

Building photo
  • Oakland is in the midst of a housing crisis that includes rising costs, increased rent burden, displacement, and widespread demographic change. At the root of this crisis is the limited availability of housing in Oakland, especially housing available to moderate- and low-income residents. The City is working on multiple fronts to increase the available supply of affordable housing and housing in general.
  • California recently adopted legislation to address the housing shortage within the State. These new laws require that the City review new multi-family developments and residential mixed-use developments ministerially or "over-the-counter" against objective standards instead through a more subjective design review process open to interpretation.
  • The City of Oakland also applied for and received a State planning grant funding used to develop and implement policies that will expedite housing development and increase housing supply in the City of Oakland. A portion of this grant funds will cover a housing-related share of this project.
  • The objective design standards will be also applied more broadly to projects consisting of a wide array of mixed-use and commercial building types throughout the City of Oakland. The creation of standards for non-housing-related projects will come from a separate funding source. The State SB-2 grant funds will only be used for housing-related project items.
  • The objective design standards developed during this project must be sensitive to the historic context of existing neighborhoods to protect and enhance the historic heritage of Oakland.

What Are Objective Design Standards?

Montage of buildings
  • State law defines an "objective" standard as one that involves no personal or subjective judgment by a public official. Objective standards are uniformly verifiable by reference to an external and uniform benchmark or a "check list" available and knowable by both the development applicant and the public official prior to submittal.
  • In contrast, subjective standards require interpretation and discretion. It can be a more time-consuming process of discovery and evaluation. For example, a front yard setback requirement of 4 feet is an objective standard while “front yard setback consistent with the character of the neighborhood” is subjective because it requires a discretionary review and determination as to what “consistent with the character of the neighborhood” means.

RFP Timeline

This process timeline is designed to give potential consultants a quick overview of the potential length of the project. A more detailed project timeline with specific steps and stages will be developed once a project consultant has been selected.

  • February 2022 - RFP Launch

    RFP release, pre-proposal meeting, questions and answers, addenda as necessary

  • March - April 2022 - Proposal Evaluation

    Deadline for submissions, proposal evaluations, notification of finalists, interviews with finalists

  • April - May 2022 - Consultant Team Selection

    Confirmation of the Consultant Team and contract negotiations

  • May - June 2022 - Project Kickoff

    Work on Objective Design Standards commences (through May 2023)

  • May - June 2023 - Standards Finalized and Considered

    Objective Design Standards delivered for consideration by Planning Commission and City Council


Q: Is there a list of firms interested in partnership opportunities?

A: To see the list of consultants who have expressed their interest in partnership opportunities please follow the link Expression of Interest Section above. Please note that this list is being routinely updated as firms fill out the Expression of Interest form above.

Q: What is the total budget for this project?

A: The maximum not to exceed budget for this project is $500,000. The total budget is split between housing-related portion of the scope (up to $350,000) and non-housing related portion ($150,000).

Q: Where can I see more information about Local and Small Local Business Enterprise Program?

A: Full details on the L/SLBE program are here. Any additional L/SLBE questions can be directed to Sophany Hang at

The teams must meet the 50% L/SLBE program requirements to be eligible.

Q: What are the specifications for the response submittal? Are there page or file size limits?

A: All proposals must be submitted online via the iSupplier. The iSupplier file size limit is 10MB. However, files larger than 10MB may be split and uploaded in multiple 10 MB portions.

Q: What is the City’s anticipated timeline, from project kick-off to completion of all work scope tasks?

A: As outlined by the RFP and the project timeline above, all project tasks are expected to be completed by May - June 2023. Consultants should submit a detailed timeline and a work plan with the proposal.

Q: Which “soft qualities” you are looking from a winning proposal beyond meeting the minimum qualifications stated in the RFP?

A: In addition to all core technical planning and design qualifications stated in the RFP, community outreach and engagement experience, as also stated in the RFP, is an important quality.

Q: Have the test sites mentioned in the RFP been selected?

A: Sites mentioned in the RFP for “fit tests” have not been selected. A consultant team is expected to select the appropriate sites in collaboration with City staff during the project.

Q: How should a proposal demonstrate the ability to understand and generate ODS based on Oakland’s unique history?

A: Proposals should reflect on the local history and demonstrate understanding of how Oakland's unique history have shaped the existing built environment, and how it continues to influence development in the City. Historic preservation is an important component of this project. A consultant's team is expected to have expertise in this field.

Q: Are there any foreseeable challenges a consultant team should be aware of and prepared for - what experience would be helpful for engaging these challenges?

A: A consultant team should be prepared to work closely and collaboratively with active interest groups, including historic preservation and affordable housing groups. Experience in local community outreach and engagement is highly desirable.

Q: Will the new objective design review standards become a part of the Planning Code and will this require CEQA review?

A: Yes, the new objective standards and project review processes will be written in the Planning Code and will require CEQA review.

Q: Are you expecting a planning firm to be the lead?

A: Any team or firm, not necessarily a planning firm, that has the experience as described in the RFP, can potentially serve as a lead for the project.

Q: Which schedules must be completed and submitted prior to contract execution as referenced in Chapter IV of the RFP?

A: Schedules E, I, O & W are the required schedules when submitting the proposals. However, schedules E-2 are also required and they are due 4 days after the RFP closes. Any additional contract compliance-related questions can be directed to Sophany Hang at and

Q: Can the same references be used for Prime Consultant(s) and Proposed Project Manager(s) in IV.A.7.a and IV.A.7.b of the RFP?


Project Team

  • Ed Manasse - Deputy Director of Planning
  • Laura Kaminski - Strategic Planning Manager
  • Ruslan Filipau – Planner III, Project Manager


The City of Oakland's Objective Design Standards project will develop processes, procedures, regulations, and objective design and development standards to streamline the approval of a wide range of residential, mixed-use, and commercial building types, with a particular focus on the much-needed affordable housing projects in transit-rich areas. As opposed to "design guidelines,” objective design standards will not be subject to interpretation and design review, and result in faster, more predictable approvals of high-quality development that respects Oakland's history and benefits the local community.

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