San Francisco Chronicle architecture critic Arrol Gellner has a couple of very interesting takes of the state of design review and its increasing restrictiveness and emphasis on conformity. In Marin there are certainly some of the municipalities that are quite restrictive. There seems to be a correlation between the size of the municipality and the level restrictions placed on design. This is something that typically affects landscape projects less than building projects; but design review can get pretty restrictive even for landscapes. This is even more the case if the residence is in a PUD (Planned Urban Development) or HOA (Home Owners Association).
Read the first two parts of Gellner’s Architext column: Design Review Boards Seem to Do More Harm than Good & Playing it Safe at the Cost of Originality
Art or Eyesore- Would this Rotterdam, Holland Cubic Condo Pass Design Review in the U.S.?