Design Review Process

Casas Arroyo de Sonoita Design Review Process

Released April, 2005
by the Board of Directors of Casas Arroyo Association, Inc.

Philosophy Statement

Casas Arroyo strives to be a community of compatible neighbors with common objectives. These objectives include the valuing and preservation of:

  • Protected open spaces
  • Scenic views with minimum of interference
  • Harmony of architecture through careful application of stated Covenant

Through shared governance and adherence to our agreed upon policies, the neighbors of Casas Arroyo endeavor to respect and protect the unique natural setting that we enjoy.


The Casas Arroyo Association, Inc., recognizes the unique nature of the land resources and limited water resources in which it exists. The preservation of this oak and grassland requires a sensitive but firm concept of guidelines and restrictions to guide residential development.

The philosophy uniting Casas Arroyo with its residents is one of harmonizing with the existing landscape and recognizing the limitations of the ecosystem of which Casas Arroyo is a part, rather than dominating or subjugating it. Thus, all new structures and modifications to existing properties must be examined against the overriding criterion of enhancing rather than overcoming the land, and of protecting the privacy and aesthetic quality of life of those already living here.

This current document represents the collective guidance from previous versions of the architectural guidelines, the Casas Arroyo Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) and other policy documents, and is binding upon all homeowners in Casas Arroyo. The Design Review Process sets forth a specific process that the Architectural Review Committee and prospective builders are required to follow during the construction of a new home or the remodeling of an existing structure. It includes a checklist that the Architectural Review Committee uses in its design review, and clarification of the interpretation of various paragraphs from the CC&Rs by the use of examples. Appendices may be added, from time to time, as resources that will document techniques, processes, or lists of plants that historically have proven to be effective in Casas Arroyo.

Adherence to this process of early and constant communication will save time and money for both parties, and protect the quality of life at Casas Arroyo de Sonoita.

The Architectural Review Committee

  1. The Architectural Review Committee is a Committee of the Board and shall consist of no less than three and no more than five members, one of whom shall also be a Board member.
  2. Members are appointed annually by the Board of Directors following each annual meeting.
  3. Priority of consideration shall be given to owners presently living in Casas Arroyo or who own homes in Casas Arroyo.
  4. Terms shall be for two years, with the option to continue if reappointed. At least two members shall carry over each year.
  5. If a vacancy occurs before the annual winter meeting, a temporary member shall be appointed by the Board of Directors to serve out the original member’s term.
  6. The Committee will elect one of its members as Chairperson within two weeks after the annual meeting and submit that person’s name, address, and phone number to local realtors and Santa Cruz County Planning and Zoning.

Approval Process


This process applies to any proposed structural modification to any property as described in Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, Article V; tree plantings per Article VIII Section 6; tanks per Article VIII Section 9; and other equipment per Article VIII Section 12. Antennas per Article VIII Section 11 have a separate approval process (below).

Requests for minor structural modifications or landscape changes may be submitted as appropriate sketches, with all applicable dimensions, and staked on the site, rather than submitted on a full topographic plan and elevation drawings.

Perc test hole protection and site re-vegetation are the responsibilities of the current lot owner.

Satellite dishes require specific written approval by the Architectural Review Committee before installation; due to the exposed nature of some sites, a large antenna may not be feasible on every site in Casas Arroyo.

No modifications are permitted without written authorization from the Committee. The following steps are to be followed as a minimum requirement. Additional conversations, contacts, and meetings may be arranged if required by either the owner or the Architectural Review Committee.


Step 1: Pre-purchase Disclosure (not applicable to modifications of existing homes)

Any Realtor showing a property provides a prospective buyer with a copy of these guidelines and the name and telephone number of the current Architectural Review Committee Chairperson (provided to local Realtors on an annual basis). If further clarification of the guidelines is required at this time, the buyer speaks with the Architectural Review Committee Chairperson (or other member of the Committee, if the Chairperson is not available).

Step 2: Pre-Design Meeting

This meeting should be attended by at least three members of the Architectural Review Committee, the owner, and the owner’s architect and/or landscape architect. Its purpose is to discuss basic concepts of siting, structural configuration (size and mass), grading, materials, landscaping, and exterior finishes, before any sizeable investment by the owner has been made in design fees, and to further communicate to all parties the goals and expectations each has. If possible, the meeting should be held on the site. Sketches of concepts are encouraged, but not required at this stage. The Checklist, below, will be used as a general aid to discussion, and any questions concerning its use will be answered. The Committee Chairperson will provide written preliminary approval to initiate design at the successful conclusion of this meeting.

Step 3: Design Approval Meeting

When final working drawings of the exterior and site design are completed, the owner schedules a meeting with the Committee on site for final approval of the design. The meeting is to be scheduled within five working days of the request. At the on-site meeting the Committee will complete the Checklist, below. The following items must be present:

  1. Stakes on the lot, affixed at all exterior corners of the structure, including patio walls, any retaining walls, septic tank and leach line locations.
  2. A pole that may be held up at different places within the structure, and adjusted to be equal in height to the highest points of the roof or ridge line (excluding chimneys or stovepipes). This will assist committee members in determining visibility from adjacent properties and roads.
  3. One copy of section/elevations of all faces of the structure (North, South, East, West), showing the completed facade in relation to the topography.
  4. Written designation of the primary exterior materials (stucco, rammed earth, adobe, etc.)
  5. One copy of at least one plan view of the site design that shows the following drawn to scale:
    1. the lot’s existing topographical contour lines at no greater than two-foot intervals,
    2. a grading plan with contour lines at no greater than one-foot intervals showing all modifications to the topography
    3. the outer perimeter of the structure in its final location on the topographic map
    4. septic plan, as submitted to Santa Cruz County showing lengths and locations of all leach lines (this may be on common land) Note: this drawing may be on a separate sheet, but must reference appropriate landmarks.
    5. the driveway to its connection to the road, and any parking and turnaround areas
    6. locations of any proposed trees to be planted outside patio areas (for screening or shading)

The owner will be asked to sign a standard letter (see appendix A.) agreeing to a revegetation plan for all disturbed lands outside of the driveway and parking pads by a date agreed upon, to further submit samples or photographs of materials and colors, antennas, or tanks, and to submit a final landscape plan describing any plantings outside of patio walls.

After the on-site meeting, the Architectural Review Committee will meet to determine approval. A letter will be sent to the owner as soon as possible, but at least within ten working days that either grants approval (in which case the letter may be forwarded to Santa Cruz County with the owner’s application for a building permit), or disapproval, including the reasons for the disapproval. It is understood that some design decisions may not be final at this time (such as finish colors and materials of all exposed parts, plant species); the letter will include a list of outstanding items that need approval. See Step 5. Note: Santa Cruz County may not issue a building permit without a letter of approval from Casas Arroyo.

Step 4: Resubmittal of disapproved plans

If the original plans are not approved by the Committee, the owner may resubmit revised plans. The process and time lines used in Step 3 apply to any re-submittal.

Step 5: Approval of outstanding design items and/or design changes

Outstanding design decisions will be submitted to the Architectural Review Committee before construction of that particular phase begins. Colors should be submitted as an actual sample of the material or as a color sample; landscape plans should be drawn to scale on a topographic site plan. Design changes that affect height, materials, colors, siting, grading, tree location, or major elements of any facade must also be resubmitted in drawing form to the Architectural Review Committee as a “redline” or modification of the original drawings submitted, or as a new drawing for additional features not previously submitted. Any new feature should be staked on the site. The Committee will grant written approval or disapproval within ten working days. To prevent construction delays, the owner should submit as early as possible.

Approval Of Satellite Dish

Because the 18″ satellite dish is less than three feet in height, it does not require approval from the Architectural Review Committee; however, the owner shall install the antenna in an unobtrusive location. Any dish larger than 18″ must first receive written approval by the Architectural Review Committee after review of the size, location and impact of the dish.


Upon approval by the Architectural Review Committee of the plans, owner(s) and Chairperson shall complete the form given here as Appendix A and file it with the Board of Directors of Casas Arroyo de Sonoita.

If the owner believes that he has been treated unfairly by the Architectural Review Committee or that their recommendations will be excessively costly and/or infringe in some way his rights to build the type of structure he or she desires, a final judgment may be received by addressing a majority of the Board of Directors at a special meeting.

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