Berkeley Adopts New Zoning Ordinance

Code

On December 1, 2021, the City of Berkeley adopted a new Zoning Ordinance (Title 23 of the Berkeley Municipal Code), the first major revision of the City’s Zoning Ordinance since 1999. The revision process originated from a 2016 City Council referral which asked the Planning Department to undertake structural revisions to the Zoning Ordinance. As with many zoning codes, Berkeley’s Zoning Ordinance was needlessly long and repetitive, had inconsistent formatting and definitions, and outdated policies and practices. Each of the 25 zoning districts in the city had its own land use table that listed permitted uses and permit requirements, resulting in different lists of uses and disparate treatment of similar uses across zoning districts. There were no area/geographic maps and there were few figures to illustrate concepts and regulations. This led to inaccurate interpretations, inconsistent applications, and anger towards city planners. It was not a “user-friendly” zoning code.

Berkeley undertook a two-phase approach to its Zoning Ordinance: this first update – Phase 1 – improves the formatting, language, and organization of the current code. It is easier to read, understand and administer.  Phase 2 will undertake substantive changes to zoning regulations and processes.

The new Zoning Ordinance provides the following improvements:

  • New format and Writing Style. The entire ordinance was re-formatted, with new numbering and titles. A new style guide was created, laying out specific word choices (ex: “addition” should be called “expansion”; a “lot” is now called a “parcel”), grammatical and spelling rules, and establishes Plain English Guidelines as the new writing style.
  • Consolidated Land Use Tables. Former chapters and sections were combined. There are now three Land Use Tables – Residential, Commercial, and Industrial, consolidating all 25 districts. For example, all 10 commercial districts are under a single chapter. This will help remove inconsistencies in application and allow easy comparison among districts.
  • New Maps and Figures. The old ordinance relied on narrative descriptions of geographic areas and subzones. There were few illustrations. The new Zoning Ordinance has maps of each area, eliminating long narrative descriptions, and includes updated figures and diagrams to illustrate items such as Floor Area Ratio and measurement methods.
  • Eliminates Repetitive Language. In addition to eliminating repetitive land use controls, administrative procedures have been consolidated. This removed discrepancies and technical errors due to punctuation or word choice.
  • Introduces a List of “Consent Changes”. Minor but non-substantive changes were included in this update. Clarification of ambiguous terms, updated legal requirements, and codification of existing interpretations and practice were made, resulting in a clearer more comprehensive document.

The new Zoning Ordinance took effect on December 1, 2021. Pending projects that have been deemed complete or received Zoning approval on or before November 30th will be reviewed using the “legacy” Zoning Ordinance. Pending projects or those that were deemed incomplete as of December 1st will be reviewed under the new Zoning Ordinance.

Berkeley is currently working on updates to their Housing Element and developing Objective Design Standards, both of which were identified as needing updating during the Phase 1 analysis. These efforts are ongoing.  RJR will continue to track these efforts and provide updates.

 

Authored by Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP Attorney Tara Sullivan.

The issues discussed in this update are not intended to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established with the recipient.  Readers should consult with legal counsel before relying on any of the information contained herein.  Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP is a full service real estate law firm.  We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law.  We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leasing, acquisitions and sales, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.

Planning Commission Considers Changes to Group Housing

Group Housing

On February 10th, the San Francisco Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend its approval (with modifications) of two proposed ordinances that could bring big changes for Group Housing citywide.

In mid-December 2021, Supervisor Peskin introduced two ordinances at the Board of Supervisors.  The first (Board File No. 211299, “Planning Code – Group Housing Definition”), which is co-sponsored by Supervisors Walton and Mandelman, proposes to amend the definition of Group Housing under the San Francisco Planning Code (the “Planning Code”).

Under the current Zoning provision of the Planning Code (and pursuant to a previous Zoning Administrator interpretation), Group Housing rooms can include a limited cooking facility, which is defined as having a small counter space, a small under-counter refrigerator, a small sink, a microwave, and a two-ring burner.  Further, Group Housing rooms must be rented out for a minimum of seven days, and Group Housing developments do not have minimum square footage requirements for building common spaces and amenities.  On-site below-market-rate/inclusionary Group Housing rooms can be offered as either rental or ownership tenure.

However, Supervisor Peskin’s legislation proposes the following changes to the Group Housing definition:

  • Individual and limited cooking facilities would no longer be allowed in Group Housing rooms.
  • Group Housing rooms would need to be rented out for at least 30 days, rather than 7.
  • Group Housing would require at least 0.25 square feet of common space for every square foot of private space (including bedrooms and individual bathrooms). At least half of the required common space would need to be devoted to a communal kitchen, with one kitchen for every 20 Group Housing rooms. Student housing and 100% affordable housing would have an exception to this requirement.
  • On-site inclusionary Group Housing rooms would no longer be permitted as ownership units.

The second ordinance (Board File No. 211300, “Planning Code, Zoning Map – Group Housing Special Use District”), proposes to create a new Group Housing Special Use District, generally covering the Chinatown and Tenderloin neighborhoods, within which new Group Housing rooms would be prohibited.

After three hours of hearing and deliberations, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of both ordinances to the Board of Supervisors, with the following proposed modifications:

To the Group Housing Definition Legislation:

  • Increase the common space requirement for Group Housing to 0.5 square feet of common space for every square foot of private space (instead of the proposed 0.25 sf);
  • Require at least 1 kitchen within 15% of the common space (instead of the proposed 50%);
  • Revise the minimum number of kitchens to be at least 1 communal kitchen for every 15 Group Housing rooms (instead of the proposed 20);
  • In addition to Student Housing and 100% Affordable Housing, also exempt units protected under Section 41.3 of the Hotel Conversion Ordinance from common space requirements;
  • Exempt organizations such as Family House from the common space requirements;
  • Allow academic institutions to provide limited cooking facilities in Group Housing rooms;
  • Define the metrics for communal kitchen requirements;
  • Exclude the single-room occupancy (“SRO”) aspect from this specific legislation with the intent to continue discussions on SRO controls in the future; and
  • For the Planning Department to consider establishing a Working Group to further discuss Group Housing intent, best practices, and future legislation.

To the Group Housing SUD Legislation:

  • Revise the proposed SUD to exempt Student Housing and 100% Affordable Housing projects; and
  • Exclude the SRO aspect from this specific legislation with the intent to continue discussions in the future.

It remains to be seen which, if any, of the Commission’s proposed modifications will be incorporated into these ordinances, which will come before the Board’s Land Use and Transportation Committee at an unknown future date.

 

Authored by Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP Attorney Melinda Sarjapur.

The issues discussed in this update are not intended to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established with the recipient.  Readers should consult with legal counsel before relying on any of the information contained herein.  Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP is a full service real estate law firm.  We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law.  We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leasing, acquisitions and sales, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.

Supervisor Safai Introduces Competing Fourplex Legislation

affordable

On November 30, 2021, Supervisor Ahsha Safai introduced legislation that would allow up to four units on lots zoned RH-1(D), RH-1, and RH-2 with the addition of affordable housing for moderate-income families. This competes with Supervisor Rafael Mandelman’s fourplex legislation, which would allow up to four units in all RH zones without any affordability requirement. Supervisor Safai’s legislation takes a different approach that would require at least one deed-restricted middle-income housing unit in order to build a fourplex. Safai’s legislation would also allow exceptions to certain Planning Code requirements, provide priority processing, and eliminate 311 notice and discretionary review.

Specifically, the legislation would create what it calls the Affordable Housing Incentive Program, which would apply to lots that are (1) located in the RH-1(D), RH-1, or RH-2 districts, (2) within one mile of a major transit stop, and (3) no smaller than 2,500 square feet. In addition, the project cannot be subject to any other density bonus programs and any existing “protected” units, which includes rent controlled or affordable housing units, must be replaced.

Under the Program, one affordable housing unit is required to allow up to three units per lot and two affordable units are required to allow up to four units per lot. The affordable housing units must be provided at 110% of the area median income (“AMI”) for rental units, or 140% AMI for owned units. Currently, these income levels for a single person household translate to $102,600 and $130,550, respectively. At the 110% AMI level, base rent for a one-bedroom unit would be limited to $2,713 and $3,010 for a two-bedroom unit. The affordable units are also subject to certain size requirements.

In exchange for the affordable housing, the Program allows a variety of Code modifications and shorter processing times. For example, lots in the RH-1(D) and RH-1 zoning districts are currently limited to a height of 35 feet, but the Program would generally allow up to 40 feet. In addition, projects under the Program would be entitled to reduced rear yard, dwelling unit exposure, and open space requirements. The Planning Director may also grant minor exceptions from Code requirements to allow building mass to appropriately shift to respond to surrounding context when the proposed modification would not substantially reduce or increase the overall building envelope. Likewise, the provisions of the Residential Design Guidelines related to “building scale and form” and “building scale at the mid-block open space” would not apply.

To provide more certainty in the approval process, the Program requires projects to be approved within 180 days of submittal of a complete project application, unless an environmental impact report is required. It also eliminates 311 neighborhood notification and discretionary review. Instead, the only opportunity to appeal would be through the associated building permit.

The legislation is currently in a mandatory 30-day holding period before any Planning Commission or Board Committee hearings can take place. Meanwhile Supervisor Mandelman’s legislation has already advanced from the Planning Commission and is awaiting a Land Use Committee hearing date. It remains to be seen what version of the fourplex legislation will make it to the full Board.

 

Authored by Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP Attorney Sabrina Eshaghi.

The issues discussed in this update are not intended to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established with the recipient.  Readers should consult with legal counsel before relying on any of the information contained herein.  Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP is a full service real estate law firm.  We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law.  We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leasing, acquisitions and sales, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.

Mayor Proposes Increased Density on Auto-Focused Lots

Auto

Mayor London Breed’s “Cars to Casas” ordinance, introduced on October 19, 2021, would eliminate the Conditional Use requirement for the conversion of an Automotive Service Station and would create a new residential density exception for housing projects on sites previously used for auto-oriented uses.

The ordinance cites a wide-reaching set of policy goals: “missing middle” housing production, cutting auto emissions, and traffic safety consistent with the City’s Vision Zero policy. By encouraging the elimination of auto-oriented uses and reducing the amount of property in the city dedicated to cars, the ordinance seeks to decrease auto travel. And in increasing density and streamlining the approval process for eligible residential projects, the legislation hopes to chip away at the housing crisis and incentivize the construction of new apartment buildings—with a focus on small and medium sized projects with at least four units.

For starters, the legislation eliminates the Conditional Use Authorization requirement to convert an existing Automotive Service Station to some other use. This change applies regardless of whether the Auto Service Station would be converted to residential use or to some other non-residential use.

The ordinance zeros in on properties currently used for “Auto-Oriented Uses,” defined as those parcels with an accessory parking lot or garage, or any use defined as an Automotive Use. Planning Code Section 102 defines Automotive Use as follows:

“A Commercial Use category that includes Automotive Repair, Ambulance Services, Automobile Sale or Rental, Automotive Service Station, Automotive Wash, Gas Station, Parcel Delivery Service, Private Parking Garage, Private Parking Lot, Public Parking Garage, Public Parking Lot, Vehicle Storage Garage, Vehicle Storage Lot, and Motor Vehicle Tow Service.”

The legislation would not change this definition.

The Mayor’s proposed density exceptions would apply to all sites with an Auto-Oriented Use where residential use is permitted, except that sites with an existing residential use and those that have had a Legacy Business at any point during the 10 years prior to application submittal would not be eligible. As of today, the Legacy Business Registry lists seven automotive/motorcycle businesses as Legacy Businesses.

On eligible sites, the legislation would principally permit up to four dwelling units per lot within RH zoning districts. In other zoning districts, the legislation would eliminate dwelling unit maximums and would instead regulate the size of residential projects based on the applicable form-based controls (i.e., height, bulk, setbacks, exposure, and open space).

The legislation also proposes to limit the parking maximums that would apply to residential projects approved under the new density exception. Up to 0.25 spaces per unit would be principally permitted and up to 0.5 spaces per unit would be allowed with Conditional Use Authorization. Parking in excess of 0.5 spaces per unit and parking for non-residential components of projects utilizing the new density exception would be prohibited. Permitted parking varies by zoning district, but in most cases, the parking maximums proposed by the legislation represent a decrease from what is currently allowed.

So as to balance the current demand for new housing against the need to retain some of the city’s existing Auto-Oriented Uses—and likely in an effort to temper potential opposition—the legislation includes a sunset provision: once the Planning Department has approved a total of 5,000 units pursuant to the proposed density exception, the exception will expire.

 

Authored by Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP Attorney Chloe Angelis.

The issues discussed in this update are not intended to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established with the recipient.  Readers should consult with legal counsel before relying on any of the information contained herein.  Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP is a full service real estate law firm.  We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law.  We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leasing, acquisitions and sales, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.

California Enacts Bills Aimed to Increase Housing

zoning

Last month, Governor Newsom signed three complimentary bills taking aim at the housing crisis in California: SB-8, SB-9, and SB-10. Together, the bills are intended to promote denser housing, streamline housing permitting, and boost housing production in California. The practical effects of the bills, however, are yet to be seen.

SB-9

SB-9 requires local agencies to ministerially approve the following in single-family zoning districts: (a) subdivision of existing lots into two parcels; and (b) development of up to two units per lot. Ministerial approvals require no environmental review, discretionary review, or public hearing process.

While opponents have painted SB-9 as a death knoll for single-family zoning, in reality the legislation comes with slew of caveats and conditions that limit its practical application.

To qualify for ministerial approval of a lot split under SB-9, all of the following must be met:

  • Site is located in a single-family residential zoning district;
  • Site is located in an urbanized area or urban cluster, or within a city that has an urbanized area or urban cluster, as designated by the US Census Bureau (which covers most urban and suburban cities in the state);
  • Subdivision creates no more than two new parcels of approximately equal lot area, provided that one parcel may not be smaller than 40% of the lot area of the original parcel proposed for subdivision;
  • Both newly created parcels must be no smaller than 1,200 square feet, unless the local jurisdiction adopts an ordinance allowing for smaller lot sizes with ministerial approval;
  • Site is not located on property that is prime farmland or farmland of statewide importance; wetlands; in a very high fire hazard severity zone; a hazardous waste site; in a delineated earthquake fault zone; in a special flood hazard area; in a regulatory floodway; identified for conservation in an adopted natural community conservation plan; a habitat for a protected species; or subject to a conservation easement;
  • Subdivision would not require demolition or alteration of housing subject to rent control; designated affordable housing; housing that has been removed from the rental market through Ellis Act eviction in the last 15 years; or housing that has been occupied by a tenant (market rate or affordable) in the past 3 years;
  • Site is not an historic landmark, and is not located within an historic district;
  • Site was not created through a prior SB-9 subdivision; and
  • Neither the owner of the parcel being subdivided or any person acting in concert with the owner has previously used SB-9 to subdivide an adjacent parcel.

To qualify for ministerial approval to develop up to 2 units per lot under SB-9, the locational and tenant-history criteria are similar.  In addition, applicants will need to show that the project won’t demolish more than 25% of the existing exterior structural walls, unless either a local agency passes legislation allowing otherwise, or the site has not been occupied by a tenant in the last 3 years.

SB-9 also contains an owner-occupancy condition which limits its utility for development entities.  Applicant-owners will be required to sign an affidavit stating their intent to occupy one of the resulting housing units as the owner’s principal residence for at least three years following the lot split.  However, community land trusts and qualified nonprofit corporations are exempt, and local agencies cannot impose any other owner-occupancy requirements.

And while SB-9 will allow for ministerial approval of qualifying projects, local agencies can still require all of the following:

  • Lots resulting from ministerial subdivision be limited to residential use;
  • No short term rental of units resulting from ministerial approval;
  • Project compliance with all objective zoning, subdivision, and design review standards applicable to the parcel that do not have the effect of physically precluding construction of two units on either resulting parcel or result in a unit size of less than 800 sf;
  • That new structures provide setbacks of up to 4 feet form side and rear lot lines;
  • For residential units connected to an onsite wastewater treatment system, a percolation test completed within the last 5 years, or, if the percolation test has been recertified, within the last 10 years.
  • Projects provide easements for provision of public services and utilities;
  • All resulting parcels maintain access to or adjoin the public right of way;
  • Projects to provide parking of up to 1 space per resulting unit, unless the site is located within ½ mile of a high-quality transit corridor or major transit stop, or there is a car share vehicle located within 1 block of the site.

Finally, on lots that are both created by an SB-9 lot split and developed with two units under SB-9, a local agency is not required to permit ADUs or JADUs.

SB-8

SB-8 primarily extends the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 (SB-330) another five years until 2030 and clarifies some of the text of the previous measure.  Among other things, SB-330 expedites the permitting process for housing developments; protects existing housing inventory; allows housing developments to file preliminary applications that provide grandfathering protection against zoning changes enacted during the discretionary review process; and limits the ability of local agencies to downzone areas unless they upzone an equivalent amount elsewhere within their boundaries.

SB-10

SB-10 authorizes local governments, at their election, to adopt an ordinance to zone any parcel for up to 10 residential units in transit-rich areas or urban infill sites.  That would apply to most properties located along established bus lines, within half a mile of a major transit stop, or in residential/mixed use areas of most California cities.  Ordinances or resolutions adopted by local agencies under SB-10 are exempt from environmental review, would require a 2/3 vote in favor from the local legislative body to adopt, and could not be used to reduce density otherwise permitted on any parcel subject to the ordinance.  SB-10 would further prohibit a residential or mixed-use project with 10 or more units that is located on a parcel zoned pursuant to an SB-10 ordinance from being approved ministerially or by right, or from being exempt from environmental review.

 

Authored by Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP Attorney Melinda Sarjapur.

The issues discussed in this update are not intended to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established with the recipient.  Readers should consult with legal counsel before relying on any of the information contained herein.  Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP is a full service real estate law firm.  We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law.  We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leasing, acquisitions and sales, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.

Two Legislators Take Aim at Statewide Planning Laws

Laws

In an apparent backlash against recent housing bills, two California state legislators have introduced a constitutional amendment that would essentially revoke the state’s ability to regulate land use. If approved, this amendment would allow cities to avoid compliance with state laws aimed at increasing housing production, making it more difficult to meet the housing needs of the growing California population.

The measure was introduced by Assemblymember Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) on March 16, 2021 and co-authored by Senator Glazer (D-Contra Costa). This comes after an attempt to get a similar citizen-initiated measure on the ballot, which has not reported any required signatures to the state as of this writing. In order to qualify for the ballot, two-thirds of each legislative chamber will need to approve the constitutional amendment. That amounts to a minimum of 54 votes in the Assembly and 27 in the Senate, assuming no vacancies. The governor’s approval is not required.

The constitutional amendment itself is fairly simple. It states that city or county regulations regarding “zoning or the use of land” prevail over conflicting state laws. Limited exceptions include conflicts with state statutes involving (1) the California Coastal Act, (2) the siting of certain power generating facilities, and (3) water or transportation infrastructure projects. Transportation infrastructure projects do not include transit-oriented development projects. This amendment would apply to both charter cities and general law cities. However, in charter cities, courts would determine whether a local ordinance that conflicts with one of the subject areas listed above addresses a matter of statewide concern or a municipal affair.

The measure states that the amendment will provide local control over land use decisions in order to balance development with the economic, environmental, and social needs of the community. The measure notes that the impacts of land use decisions vary depending on the municipality and specifically points to impacts on the infrastructure needed to maintain adequate public services.

While these are valid concerns, they need to be evaluated in light of the current housing crisis, which has been decades in the making. The state sets housing production goals, also known as the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), that cities and counties are required to plan for in their Housing Elements. However, planning for housing does not always translate into actual housing production. According to the HCD’s latest data, only about 6% of California’s cities and counties are on track to meet the state’s current RHNA goals in all income categories. And, as we noted in a prior e-update, many cities and counties are looking at significant increases in RHNA goals next cycle. In order to incentivize housing production, the legislature has stepped in to streamline approvals, allow density bonuses, and limit municipalities’ ability to deny certain housing projects.

The amendment’s broad applicability to regulations regarding “zoning or the use of land” leaves significant room for interpretation and will result in far-reaching consequences that will ultimately exacerbate the state’s worsening housing crisis. For example, the amendment would allow cities to disregard the following state laws:

  • Density Bonus Law. Under the Density Bonus Law, developers are entitled to up to a 50% density bonus if certain on-site affordability requirements are met. The law also allows waivers and concessions from development standards that would physically preclude the density permitted or result in identifiable and actual cost reductions.
  • SB 35. This legislation requires ministerial approval of housing projects that meet certain affordability requirements in cities and counties that are not meeting their RHNA goals.
  • Permit Streamlining Act. This Act allows certain development projects to be deemed approved if the local agency does not approve the project within specified time limits.
  • SB 330. Among other things, SB 330 (1) provides a mechanism to vest the ordinances, policies, and standards in effect at the date a complete Preliminary Housing Development Application is submitted, (2) limits the ability of municipalities to downzone certain properties, impose moratoria, or apply new subjective design standards to housing developments, (3) further streamlines approvals, and (4) limits the number of hearings that can be conducted prior to approval of a housing project.
  • Housing Accountability Act. This Act limits a local government’s ability to deny, make infeasible, or reduce the density of housing development projects that are consistent with objective local development standards.
  • ADU Law. In recent years, there has been a significant amount of legislation making ADUs easier to build by streamlining the approval process, limiting applicability of impact fees, and relaxing zoning requirements.

The broad language of the amendment may also have the effect of reversing state rent control regulations and General Plan requirements, including the need to update the Housing Element to accommodate RHNA goals. In addition, a number of land-use related bills have been introduced this session that could be impacted by this constitutional amendment.

It remains to be seen whether two-thirds of the legislature, which recently passed landmark housing bills, would vote to put this constitutional amendment on the ballot. We will continue to monitor this measure and keep you updated.

 

Authored by Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP Attorney Sabrina Eshaghi.

The issues discussed in this update are not intended to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established with the recipient.  Readers should consult with legal counsel before relying on any of the information contained herein.  Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP is a full service real estate law firm.  We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law.  We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leasing, acquisitions and sales, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.

New Interim Density Controls for Residential-Commercial Districts

interim zoning controls

In January the Board of Supervisors passed interim zoning controls for parcels in RC, RM, and RTO (excluding RTO-M) zoning districts. The controls require Conditional Use Authorization (“CU”) for most new construction or alterations that do not maximize residential density. Sponsored by Supervisor Peskin, the interim zoning controls became effective on January 21st and are in place for 18 months, until July 2022. They apply to all projects—even ones currently under review by the Planning Commission—where a final site or building permit has not been issued (i.e., any project currently on file with the City).

The controls aim to disincentivize low-density projects, restrict the construction of large residences, and prevent the loss or conversion of rent-stabilized housing units.  The zoning districts cited allow for a higher density (i.e., more units at a smaller size), but often are developed with larger units that are more suitable to higher-income families (i.e., less units at larger sizes).

The controls apply to any (i) new construction of a residential building or (ii) a proposed alteration that would result in the expansion of the building. A CU from the Planning Commission will be required if the residential building does not maximize the principally permitted residential density while meeting minimum unit size requirements. The following minimum unit sizes must be used in density studies under the interim controls: 450 sf for 1-bedrooms, 700 sf for 2-bedrooms, 900 sf for 3-bedrooms, and 1,100 sf for 4-bedroom units.

There are exceptions to the Conditional Use requirement where site constraints prevent a project from maximizing density or for certain minor expansions. To fall under the site constraints exception, a project must meet the following criteria:

  1. Existing lot conditions or form-based restrictions on development (e.g., height, bulk, rear yard requirements) prevent a project from maximizing density without seeking a variance or subdividing units (while adhering to the minimum unit sizes in the Planning Code);
  2. The proposed project increases density on a subject lot; and
  3. No unit is greater than 2,000 square feet in size.

Expansions of existing residential buildings are permitted without a CU if the proposed expansion is 25% or less of the existing residential building and:

  1. Does not increase the size of any units that is already larger than 2,000 square feet in size;
  2. Does not create a new unit larger than 2,000 square feet, or
  3. Cause an existing unit less than 2,000 square feet in size to exceed 2,000 square feet.

It is unclear how many projects the interim zoning controls will impact, or whether it will result in changes to proposed development. Until the Planning Department or Planning Commission adopt clear guidelines for implementing the controls, including standards for density studies, the impact of the interim zoning controls remains uncertain. Reuben, Junius & Rose LLP will continue to monitor the implementation of the interim controls.

 

Authored by Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP Attorney Tara Sullivan.

The issues discussed in this update are not intended to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established with the recipient.  Readers should consult with legal counsel before relying on any of the information contained herein.  Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP is a full service real estate law firm.  We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law.  We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leasing, acquisitions and sales, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.