Acton Community Standards

The following is copied from the Official Los Angles County Website.

22.44.126 Acton Community Standards District.permanent link to this piece of content

A.  Intent and Purpose. The Acton Community Standards District is established to protect and enhance the rural, equestrian and agricultural character of the community and its sensitive features including significant ecological areas, floodplains, hillsides, National Forest, archaeological resources, multipurpose trail system, and Western heritage architectural theme. The standards are intended to ensure reasonable access to public riding and hiking trails, and to minimize the need for installation of infrastructure such as sewers, streetlights, concrete sidewalks and concrete flood control systems that would alter the community’s character, while providing for adequate drainage and other community safety features.

B.  Description of District Boundary. The boundaries of the district are shown on the map following this section.

C.  Community-Wide Development Standards. Except where a more specific application is prescribed, or prior to the approval of a new structure or addition to an existing structure where the cumulative area of all additions made after the adoption of this section adds at least 400 square feet to the footprint of either primary or accessory structures, a site plan shall be submitted to and approved by the Planning Director to assure compliance with the following development standards:

1.  Hillside Design Considerations. Hillside resources are among the most important features of the Acton community. Hillside regulations shall be enforced by a specific written analysis in each case, demonstrating conformance with the following objectives. Development plans shall comply with the following objectives:

a.  Preserve to the greatest extent possible existing natural contours and natural rock outcropping features. Structures and required provisions for access and public safety should be designed to minimize encroachment on such features by the use of such techniques as curvilinear street designs and landform grading designs which blend any manufactured slopes or required drainage benches into the natural topography;

b.  Preserve to the greatest extent possible the natural silhouette in significant ridgeline areas. Significant ridgelines are the ridgelines that surround or visually dominate the Acton landscape either through their size in relation to the hillside or mountain terrain of which they are a part, or through their visual dominance as characterized by a silhouetting appearance against the sky, or through their visual dominance due to proximity and view from existing development, freeways and highways designated as Major, Secondary or Limited Secondary on the Highway Plan;

c.  While observing minimum lot area standards contained in this section, cluster development where such technique can be demonstrated to substantially reduce grading alterations and contribute to the preservation of native vegetation and prominent landmark features;

d.  Blend buildings and structures into the terrain by sensitive use of building setbacks, structure heights and architectural designs; and

e.  Minimize disruption of view corridors, scenic vistas and adjacent property by the use of sensitive site design and grading techniques.

2.  Preservation of Native Vegetation. Development plans shall emphasize the protection of, and revegetation with, native vegetation, including the native plants, grasses, shrubs and trees which intercept, hold and more slowly release rainfall than bare earth surfaces. It is intended that equestrian uses such as stables and arenas which will result in vegetation removal be accommodated, provided the design of these uses does not create erosion or flooding potential that would create a safety hazard to structures or off-site property, as determined by the department of public works. On any parcel consisting of one acre or greater, the removal or destruction of native vegetation exceeding 10 percent of the parcel area within any 12-month period shall require the director’s approval.

a.  Required Site Plan. All permit applications involving grading (including brushing or vegetation removal to accommodate equestrian uses) must include a site plan for director’s review. This information may be submitted in conjunction with other site plan information that may be required for the project. Within hillside areas, such site plan must comply with Section 22.56.215, which requires a conditional use permit for projects in hillside management areas. This information shall not substitute for oak tree permit requirements. Material submitted shall include:

i.  A description of the property, accompanied by a map showing the topography of the land and the location of any drainage courses; the location and extent of the proposed work and details of the precautionary measures or devices to be used to prevent erosion and flood hazards, including, if necessary, a drainage plan by a civil engineer showing routing of runoff, estimate of quantity and frequency of runoff, character of soils and channel sections and gradients;

ii.  A landscaping plan supportive of this subsection showing existing and proposed landscaping, acceptable to the department of regional planning. Such plan shall specifically identify California junipers, manzanita, Great Basin sage and Joshua trees and generally describe the type and condition of native vegetation. Soil types shall be specified in order to assess the feasibility of revegetation. Relandscaping of disturbed areas should emphasize the use of existing native, drought tolerant vegetation;

iii.  A long-term maintenance program for all landscaping in the proposed plan, both undisturbed and revegetated; the program shall focus on revegetated areas and shall cover a two-year period; funding provisions for the maintenance program shall be specified; and

iv.  Such other vegetation information as the director may deem necessary to fulfill the purpose of protecting property and public safety and preserving the character of the Acton community.

b.  Issuance Conditions. The director shall approve the site plan with appropriate conditions, relating to this subsection only, for all or a portion of the proposed work when satisfied:

i.  That the performance of such work is consistent with the intent of this subsection to preserve native vegetation;

ii.  That such work will not result in a flood or erosion hazard to this or other properties; and

iii.  That the proposed work conforms with the requirements of other laws or ordinances.

c.  For commercial agricultural uses, relief from the standards of this subsection pertaining to replacement with native vegetation may normally be granted through the provisions of subsection (C)(13) of this section.

d.  Exceptions. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to, and a grading permit is not required for:

i.  The removal or reduction of vegetation for the purpose of complying with county regulations relating to brush clearance for fire safety. This exception includes not only required vegetation control around structures but also the creation and maintenance by a public agency of firebreaks used to control the spread of fire;

ii.  The removal or destruction of vegetation on publicly owned rights-of-way for roads, highways, flood control projects or other similar or related uses;

iii.  The removal or destruction of vegetation by public utilities on rights-of-way or property owned by such utility, or on land providing access to such rights-of-way or property;

iv.  Work performed under a permit issued for precautionary measures to control erosion and flood hazards; and

v.  The selective removal or destruction of noxious weeds or plants which pose a hazard to animals.

3.  Architectural Style and Project Design Considerations.

a.  All uses in commercial land classifications in the Antelope Valley Area Plan and all nonresidential uses within urban residential or nonurban land classifications which are not accessory to residential structures shall:

i.  Not exceed a height of 35 feet except for chimneys and pole antennas, which may not exceed a height of 45 feet;

ii.  Be designed in a “Western frontier village, circa 1890s style” in substantial conformance with the architectural style guidelines accompanying this community standards district as an appendix and as maintained in the office of the planning director; and

iii.  Be designed to conceal from public view all external utilities, such as roof-mounted air conditioning or heating units, or other improvements not contributing to the Western architectural design, such as satellite dish antennas. Solar panels that are designed as part of a roof line and blend with the overall roof appearance need not be concealed. An exterior architectural rendering, with materials and colors indicated, shall be submitted with any request for director’s review for structural improvements.

b.  Restricted access subdivisions are prohibited.

4.  Drainage. The following provisions are intended to slow or reduce runoff from new development and protect and enhance the rural character of Acton. In addition to existing county standards for the control of runoff, the following standards shall be observed:

a.  The maximum impervious finished surface area for residential and associated accessory uses shall not exceed 10 percent for lots three net acres or larger; not exceed 21 percent or 13,000 square feet, whichever is smaller, for lots between one and one-quarter net acres and three net acres; and not exceed 42 percent or 11,000 square feet, whichever is smaller, for lots smaller than one and one-quarter net acres;

b.  Maximum impervious finished surface areas for nonresidential uses shall not exceed:

i.  65 percent for open storage and homes for the aged;

ii.  74 percent for hospitals, cemeteries, mausoleums and mortuaries;

iii.  82 percent for churches and schools; or

iv.  90 percent for stores, office buildings, warehousing, manufacturing, storage, shopping centers, restaurants, service stations, parking lots, motels/hotels, kennels, lumber yards, professional buildings, banks and supermarkets;

c.  Partially impervious surfaces, such as perforated concrete blocks that allow vegetation growth, may be used where public safety is not a consideration, such as private patios and driveways; credit shall be given for the portion of such surfaces that are not impervious. This provision shall not be used to modify standards for parking surfaces required by Section 22.52.1060

d.  All residential buildings with rain gutters shall collect and direct all roof runoff towards permeable surfaces, rather than towards impervious surfaces such as paved driveways;

e.  The Acton Community Standards District discourages the use of concrete facilities to mitigate flood hazards; and

f.  Flood hazard mitigation shall be consistent with floodplain management practices and existing drainage policies.

5.  Billboards. The Acton Community Standards District shall be designated a billboard exclusion zone in compliance with Part 3 of Chapter 22.40

6.  Signs.

a.  Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, all signs permitted by this subsection shall conform to the following:

i.  Signage shall be unobtrusive and shall promote the style of the Western frontier architectural guidelines; and

ii.  Lighting shall be external, using fixtures designed to focus all light directly on the sign, and internal illumination shall be prohibited.

b.  Except as specifically exempted by Section 22.52.810, no sign, including those prohibited by Section 22.52.990, shall be erected within the district except as provided for by this subsection:

i.  Wall business signs, as provided by Section 22.52.880, except that no wall business sign attached to a building, including the roof, shall be higher than the highest point of the building, excluding chimneys and antennas. The maximum area permitted of a wall sign is one and one-half square feet for each one linear foot of building frontage, not to exceed 100 square feet per tenant;

ii.  Freestanding business signs, typically monument style, as provided for in Section 22.52.890, except that roof business signs shall be prohibited, the height of such signs shall be limited to five feet measured from the natural grade at street level, and the maximum area of combined faces on such signs shall be limited to 100 square feet;

iii.  Residential ranch entrance signs, provided that only one span per parcel shall be permitted for such signs, the top of each sign shall not exceed 20 feet from natural grade, and the surface areas of such signs shall not exceed 12 square feet; and

iv.  Temporary, directional, informational and special purpose signs, as provided for by Sections 22.52.940, 22.52.950, 22.52.960, 22.52.970, and 22.52.980

7.  Fence Design. In addition to standards provided in Section 22.48.160 concerning the height of fences, the following fence design features shall apply to the construction of perimeter fencing:

a.  Only split rail, open wood, wire or wrought iron style or similar open-type perimeter fences shall be permitted, except on residential lots of less than 10,000 square feet, or unless view-obscuring fences are required for visual shielding by other provisions of this title; and

b.  Except where otherwise required by ordinance, at least 70 percent of the entire fence area shall be non-view-obscuring; no slats or other view-obscuring materials may be inserted into or affixed to such fences. Any solid lineal sections must be primarily for structural purposes or provide minor architectural design features.

8.  Outdoor Lighting. Outdoor lighting shall be provided in accordance with the applicable provisions of Part 9 of Chapter 22.44. Where outdoor lights are required, light fixtures in keeping with the Western frontier architectural style will be required.

9.  Street Improvements. Street improvements shall complement the rural character of the Acton community and street lights shall be provided in accordance with the applicable provisions of Part 9 of Chapter 22.44

a.  All required local and highway streetlights shall utilize cut-off “Mission Bell” design fixtures, as specified by the local electric utility.

b.  Concrete sidewalks, curbs, and gutters will generally not be required on local streets. In all new land divisions, inverted shoulder cross-sections will be specified for local streets, unless an alternate design is necessary for public safety, as determined by the Department of Public Works. Curbs and gutters, or fencing with inverted shoulders, may be required where trail use is within the roadway easement.

10.  Trail Easements. In reviewing and establishing design conditions for any land division, the hearing officer shall consider community trails objectives and whether or not they may be promoted or benefited by such division. Alternative proposals for trail easements consistent with community goals shall be developed and considered in conjunction with each land division.

a.  Unobstructed multipurpose pathways for both pedestrian and equestrian uses should be developed in each new land division to the satisfaction of both the department of public works and the department of parks and recreation. Although alignments that are not adjacent to roadways will generally be preferred, road easements may be used when the hearing officer determines that other locations are inappropriate.

b.  Any trail incorporated into a land division must contain a provision for participation in a community-wide trail maintenance financing district or other appropriate financing mechanism; the district or other financing mechanism must be established prior to the construction of the trail.

c.  The department of parks and recreation will work with the community to establish an appropriate mechanism for financing trail maintenance.

11.  Home Occupations. Home occupation uses are to be permitted, subject to a director’s review, to enable a resident to carry on an income-producing activity, which is incidental and subordinate to the principal use of residential property, when such activity will not be disruptive to the character of the Acton community.

a.  In addition to the principles and standards contained in Section 22.56.1690, the director shall ensure that an application for a home occupation use complies with the following standards and conditions:

i.  That the use occur on a parcel used primarily as the permanent residence of the person or persons operating the use, and be secondary and incidental to the principal use of the lot or parcel, and not change the residential character and appearance of the dwelling unit;

ii.  That not more than 2 persons, other than resident occupants, shall be employed or volunteer their services on site;

iii.  That the number of off-street vehicle parking spaces comply with the provisions of Part 11 of Chapter 22.52, as well as provide one additional on-site vehicle space, either covered or uncovered, for each employee or volunteer;

iv.  That the combined floor area of the home occupation use shall not occupy more than 20 percent of the total floor area of the residence (excluding accessory buildings) or 350 square feet, whichever is lesser;

v.  That no noise or sound be created which exceeds the levels contained in Chapter 12.08 (Noise Control) of Title 12 (Environmental Protection) of the Los Angeles County Code;

vi.  That on-site signage or display in any form which advertises or indicates the home occupation use is prohibited;

vii.  That no sale of goods occur at the premises where the home occupation use is located;

viii.  That business traffic occur only between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Home occupation related vehicle trips to the residence shall not exceed six per day;

ix.  That a “Notice of Proposal” indicating the nature of the home occupation use, to the satisfaction of the director, has been forwarded by first class mail, postage prepaid, to all owners and residents, of real property within 500 feet of the lot or parcel on which said use is proposed;

x.  That the person proposing to conduct a home occupation use has signed a covenant and agreement suitable for recordation and running with the land indicating that he or she has read and understands the mandatory conditions of operation enumerated above and such other conditions that the director may impose, and will faithfully abide by each and every one of said conditions and restrictions. Said covenant shall be recorded as a condition of approval and shall indicate that the failure of the applicant to conform with and adhere to each and every condition of operation shall result in the revocation of the director’s approval for the home occupation use;

b.  In those cases where the director determines that the site plan submitted by an applicant is not, or cannot be, in full compliance with subsection (C)(11)(a) of this section, the director shall deny such application and shall inform the applicant in writing of such action. Said notice of denial shall also inform the applicant that this title contains provisions permitting the filing of a conditional use permit for a home occupation use which is not in compliance with the requirements of this subsection; and

c.  This subsection shall not modify the provisions for on-site display, signage and sale in any agricultural zone of products lawfully produced on such lot or parcel of land.

12.  Applicability. The preceding standards shall apply as appropriate to any land division, building permit for either a new structure or a specified addition to an existing structure, or grading permit. Modifications to any standards in this subsection are only available pursuant to the terms and conditions of a conditional use permit, as provided for in Part 1 of Chapter 22.56

D.  Area-Specific Development Standards. Except as provided in this section, all residential lots or parcels shall comply with the area requirements and standards of the applicable zone. If any portion of a new lot or parcel, or an existing lot or parcel, as noted, is located within a Nonurban 1 or Nonurban 2 area, the following requirements apply:

1.  Nonurban 1 Area, Antelope Valley Area Plan Land Use Policy Map:

a.  Minimum Lot Area. New residential lots shall contain a gross area of not less than two acres and a net area of not less than 40,000 square feet. Lot sizes may be clustered in accordance with the Antelope Valley Area Plan, provided that no lot contains less than one acre of gross area and 40,000 square feet of net area, and provided the average gross area of all lots in a project is not less than two acres.

b.  Lot Width and Length for Regular Lots. Except as otherwise specified in subsection (D)(1)(c) of this section, new residential lots shall contain an area which is at least 165 feet in width and at least 165 feet in length (depth). This area shall begin no farther than 50 feet from the street right-of-way line and shall include the entire building pad.

c.  Lot Width and Length for Irregular Lots. New flag and other irregularly shaped residential lots shall contain an area which has an average width of not less than 165 feet, including a minimum width of at least 165 feet through the area containing the building pad of the primary residential structure, and a minimum length (depth) of not less than 165 feet.

d.  Lot Setbacks. New and existing residential lots of sufficient size shall have required front and rear yards of not less than 50 feet from the property line. Side yards shall be a minimum of 35 feet from the property line.

2.  Nonurban 2 Area, Antelope Valley Area Plan Land Use Policy Map:

a.  Minimum Lot Area. New residential lots shall contain a gross area of not less than one acre and a net area of not less than 40,000 square feet. No clustering of lot sizes is permitted which creates lots smaller than the minimum lot area.

b.  Lot Width and Length for Regular Lots. Except as otherwise specified in subsection (D)(2)(c) of this section, new residential lots shall contain an area which is at least 130 feet in width and at least 130 feet in length (depth). This area shall begin no farther than 35 feet from the street right-of-way line and shall include the entire building pad.

c.  Lot Width and Length for Irregular Lots. New flag and other irregularly shaped residential lots shall contain an area which has an average width of not less than 130 feet, including a minimum width of at least 130 feet through the area containing the building pad of the primary residential structure, and a minimum length (depth) of not less than 130 feet.

d.  Lot Setbacks. New and existing residential lots of sufficient size shall have required front and rear yards of not less than 35 feet from the property line. Side yards shall be a minimum of 25 feet from the property line.

3.  Modifications to any standards in this subsection are only available pursuant to the terms and conditions of a conditional use permit, as set forth in Part 1 of Chapter 22.56

E.  Director’s Review. A director’s review, as set forth in Part 12 of Chapter 22.56, shall be required for the determination of whether or not a proposed development complies with the provisions and development standards prescribed in this section. Where a site plan is required in an application for a permit, variance, nonconforming use or structure review, said site plan shall be considered a part of said application and shall not require separate approval under the provisions of this subsection.


(Ord. 2012-0047 § 2, 2012; Ord. 95-0060 § 2, 1995.)



I.  Background

Acton is a rural community that began to develop in the 1800’s as a center of gold and copper mining activity. By 1872, with the coming of the railroad and the development of large scale mining operations, Acton was a thriving community. In 1886 the Southern Pacific depot was established, bearing the name of Acton. For a short period of time, Acton with all its mines was an important town in the State of California. Several structures from this era remain. The 1878 school house now serves as a community church, and the 49er Saloon—remodeled and expanded, but retaining its “Western” look—remains a community fixture. Bricks from the 1890 Acton Hotel have been incorporated into a community monument.

As the mining activity decreased at the turn of the century, the area changed to predominantly ranching activities. It is in keeping with this rich frontier mining town heritage that these Architectural Style Guidelines for commercial areas have been established.

II.  Objectives

Section C.3 of the Community Standards District provides for the application of Architectural Style Guidelines in Acton, primarily in commercial areas, as defined by the Land Use Policy Map for the Antelope Valley Area Plan. There are two distinct commercial areas: 1) “Old Town” south of the Freeway along Crown Valley Road and 2) the newly developing uses adjacent to the Freeway, particularly to the north. The objectives of the guidelines include:

— Identification and description of the qualities which give a “Western frontier village, circa 1890’s style” character to much of the existing commercial area—particularly the older development in the vicinity of Crown Valley Road and Soledad Canyon Road.

— Assistance in guiding and promoting architectural rehabilitation throughout Acton that is consistent with its Western heritage.

— Development of new commercial structures that promote and enhance the community’s Western Heritage architectural character.

III.  Guidelines

The entire Community Standards District is intended to help preserve a Western desert community character. Vegetation, street improvements, trails, lighting, fencing, signage, building heights, setbacks and other features of the CSD all complement the Western appearance. The Architectural Style Guidelines are intended to put the finishing touches on the exterior appearance of the commercial community. The following guidelines provisions are to be used in designing all exterior improvements:

A.  Facades

B.  Roof forms

C.  Sidewalk coverings

D.  Signs

E.  Colors

F.  Materials

G.  Landscaping

H.  Exterior features: lights, railings, street furniture, etc.


Building exteriors, particularly storefronts, are the most visible elements of a commercial community. The surfaces, materials and colors that complement the overall architectural design create a visual statement as well as provide a framework for signage, landscaping and street furnishings that can complete a desired appearance.

Lineal Design:

“Western” town commercial structures have strong horizontal lines; parapets, signs, railings, balconies, sidewalk coverings, transom windows and kickplates are typical lineal features. Projecting or recessed horizontal architectural or decorative features help create dimension and interest on a plain facade. While diversity—e.g. Victorian design—among individual stores is encouraged, horizontal lines can help create a cohesive community and encourage one’s eyes to scan the entire area.


* A predominating horizontal line along the top of the building facade.

* Alignment of tops of windows and door openings.

* The clear division of two story structures between the first and second floors.

* Second floor balconies and railings; their strong horizontal structure adds depth and visual interest

* Horizontal lines that carry from one store or structure to the next.


* Horizontal elements that do not involve structural features; a painted horizontal stripe, for example, should not be used where wood trim would create dimension and texture.


Stores along a “Western” street typically have recessed entries. This feature draws a shopper toward the sheltered door area, which is generally flanked with display windows. This architectural characteristic is in contrast to modern commercial designs which generally align all storefronts and entrances along a straight walkway.


* Recessed storefront entries. Side and rear entries may be in line with exterior walls.

* Wood-appearing frame doors with glass panes—particularly in the upper half of the door—and suitable hardware (typically brass hinges and handles or push plates). Wood-frame screen doors can be used.

* Double entry doors, while not necessary, are particularly inviting.


* Use of bright aluminum, tinted glass and other modern doorway materials.

* Frameless glass doors.

* Security doors and grates.


Windows link the outside pedestrian with the inside business. They provide a showcase for the merchant and can do much to invite sidewalk shoppers to enter an establishment. Western Village-type windows would authentically be multi-pane, with wood frames. While this look is preferred, larger single-pane showcase windows may provide a better display format; as long as the window frame has an appearance that blends with the overall facade, window pane size will not be a judged factor.


* Window designs that harmonize with those in adjacent structures.

* Kickplates that line the lower part of the storefront below the glass. Transom windows are a typical feature over the display windows.

* Use of clear glass or lightly tinted glass only; glass may contain suitable decorative etching.

* Use of shutters, louvers or interior blinds where privacy or restricted views are needed.


* Design or alteration of window openings that are inconsistent with the architectural character of the building.

* Use of darkly tinted or reflective glass.

* Full length plate glass windows.

* Finished appearance that does not reflect intended architectural design. Aluminum used for window and door frames, for example, is a modern-appearing material that is inappropriate.

Side and Rear Facade Features:

Structures in the commercial areas of Acton are often visible on all sides. Some establishments may permit access from other than the front entry. It is important that these facades be attractively maintained in character with the Western architecture theme. Utilities, trash bins and other such features of rear and side areas should be covered or disguised in the same architectural theme wherever possible.


Unlike residences of the by-gone Western era with their pitched roofs, commercial buildings are known for their predominantly flat-roofed appearance. Where pitched roofs exist, they are generally hidden from street view by either a parapet—an upward extension of part of the front wall—or a false front (with the exception of Victorian-style structures). While top roof lines can carry a horizontal theme around the commercial area, individuality should be encouraged; multi-height parapets and false fronts add variety. Special roof lines, raised heights or other distinctive treatments are appropriate over major building entry points or corner structures.


* Predominantly flat roofs.

* Sloping roofs hidden from front view by parapets or false fronts with horizontal lines.

* ”Accent” roof lines or other architectural features—higher than the surrounding roof lines—at corners and major entrances.

* Screening of roof mounted equipment (see Acton Community Standards District, Section C.3).


* Sloped or pitched roofs—particularly those visible from street view, unless of Victorian design.

* Decorative roof elements that do not focus on corner or entry areas.


Motion picture-created images of Western towns often portray hot, dusty main streets; a respite from the sun was found in the shade provided by coverings along the boardwalks. In Acton today, paved streets minimize the dust, and air conditioning provides ideal climate control. Sidewalk coverings, however, are still functional: in addition to reinforcing the Western architectural style, they provide an invitation to window shoppers, protect window displays and shield windows from the heat of the day, thereby conserving energy.

Sidewalk coverings are typically constructed of rough wood, supported by wooden posts. They may serve as second story balconies. Awnings can also be used, but should be of plain canvas-type material; rounded or scalloped edges, stripes or patterns are not appropriate. Where posts are used, wooden railings would complete the boardwalk area.


Signage controls can “make or break” the visual image of a commercial community. This feature of the Acton community is so important that Section C.6 of the Acton Community Standards District contains specific regulations designed to prevent the use of modern signs.

The primary function of signs in Acton is to effectively identify business locations. Signs should not be used for advertising, unless based on verifiable authentic Western designs. Even then they must either conform to Section C.6 or undergo appropriate variance approvals. The following signage features supplement the requirements of Section C.6:


* Flush-mounted signs, often within a recessed area on a parapet.

* Hanging signboards, either parallel or perpendicular to the building facade.

* Signs related in size, character and placement to other building elements.

* Graphics and lettering styles that are appropriate to the western motif. Signs for most franchises and chain stores will require redesign.

* Icon signs that illustrate the type of merchandise or service.


* Signs that obscure all or part of a significant architectural feature.

* Garish colors that may attract attention, but which detract from a harmonious community appearance.


If there is a single “Western town” color, it would be earthtone. This color—or range of colors from beige to gray—is natural appearing in many of the materials used in constructing the old West. Brick, made from adobe clay, was often used in early Acton and is also an appropriate color. Brighter primary paint colors were available and were often used for signs and on metal surfaces to prevent rust. “Pastels” and “neons” are inappropriate colors in the Western palette.


* Natural wood-look and brick tones as the predominant materials/colors of the commercial area. (Simulated woodappearing products may be used in place of real wood.)

* Colors that are coordinated with neighboring building colors and materials.

* Subtle colors on plain surfaces of large structures.


* Changing colors along the main surface of a single building facade. A single color—generally natural wood—creates unity; individual stores can be differentiated by accent colors, parapets, signage and other distinguishing features.


Finished appearance is more important than the use of “genuine, authentic” materials. Available materials of the day (late 1800’s) consisted primarily of wood, adobe, brick and stone. Modern materials are available that simulate these textures, and are generally acceptable in new or rehabilitation construction. Even concrete blocks can be used if faced with adobe-resembling stucco, for example, or covered entirely with vegetation. “Assembly” of these materials should reflect the building techniques and tools employed in the early West.

The chosen materials should be consistent with the structure; sidewalks, for example, would originally have been either boardwalk or stonewalk. Today, those materials would be welcome, although modern materials such as concrete may be used to replicate such appearances through special colorings and installation techniques.


* Use of materials available in the old West, such as pine lumber, river rock and adobe.

* The adaptation of modern materials such as plastic, concrete and aluminum to resemble old West materials.


* Modern materials that retain a contemporary appearance; painted metal “pipe” railings should be avoided in favor of wooden hand rails, for example.


Vegetation can provide an attractive, inviting and unifying element to a commercial district. Trees provide welcome shade in a desert community such as Acton. Trees and shrubbery can cover vacant areas or unattractive features such as utility installations and rubbish disposal areas, and can soften the hard appearance of parking lots. Planter boxes along storefronts can be a very decorative feature.

Section C.2 of the Acton Community Standards District emphasizes the preservation and use of high desert native vegetation. A commercial landscape palette must conform to these requirements, which will ensure compatibility of the vegetation with the architectural theme.


“Finishing touches” to the Western village architectural theme must consider all the exterior features, both functional and decorative. Lights and lamp posts, railings, trash receptacles, benches, and hitching posts would all be common to Acton commercial areas and in plain view. Sections C.8 and C.9 of the Acton Community Standards District establish general requirements for outdoor lighting. Modern lighting techniques which do not interfere with the Western motif may be used.

Utilities should be hidden from view wherever possible. Air conditioning units, for example, should ideally be roof-mounted. Room air conditioning units should never be installed in the front facade; the rear wall is generally preferable, with side walls acceptable.


* Western style accessories such as sidewalk railings and hitching posts (which should be located to protect horses from motor vehicles). Cast iron-type benches and wood or woodenlooking trash “barrels” are appropriate and functional. Wagon wheels are a popular decorative item.

* Gas or gas-look lamps, where high visibility for safety is not a factor.

* The use of wood, wrought iron, ceramic or other materials from the old West era.


* Modern decorative materials such as neon and plastics.

(Ord. 2012-0047 § 2, 2012)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One Comment:

  1. Can you tell me the the percentages of the district for Commercial, residential, industrial, manufacturing, brush, and high rise areas. Thank you for your time.

Comments are closed