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City Council Moves Forward with Updates to Zoning Regulations

Post Date:08/22/2018 4:00 PM

On Tuesday the San Luis Obispo City Council voted 5-0 to update the City’s Zoning Regulations that address specific land uses – such as housing trends, compatible infill development, improved parking and sustainability – with changes to specific ordinances. The updates also manage the City’s growth, preserving the natural environment and high level of services enjoyed by residents for future generations. 

The Zoning Regulation Update implements land use and circulation policies contained in the City’s 2014 General Plan Land Use and Circulation Elements (LUCE), incorporates policies and programs that address sustainability and climate change, and addresses current California laws. Specific details of the approved changes are below. 

Approved changes to residential and commercial buildings include:

  • Building heights—Lowering the maximum height for buildings in the low-density residential (R-1) zone from 35 to 25 feet
  • Setbacks— Increasing setbacks for properties adjacent to lower density zones and creeks
  • Land uses—Consolidating land uses and providing flexibility for land uses in different zones
  • Rooftop decks—Limiting the hours of operations for commercial rooftop decks to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • FAR—Increasing the maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in the low-density residential (R-1) zone from 0.4 to 0.5 if certain building design requirements are met
  • Square footage—Adjusting the square footage density calculations for studio and one-bedroom units to 600-1,000 square feet, respectively
  • Density minimums—Setting minimum densities for medium-density residential (R-2), medium-high density residential (R-3) and high-density residential (R-4) zones to two units, three units and four units, respectively
  • Hillsides—Implementing new hillside development standards that assist in maintaining a natural appearance for hillsides and ridgelines

Approved changes to parking include:

  • Implementing new electronic vehicle parking requirements
  • Increasing bicycle parking requirements, including standards for lockers and showers
  • Revising vehicle parking requirements
  • Consolidating parking reductions from automatically allowed to dependent upon evidence

Approved changes to the development review process include:

  • Establishing the role of the Architectural Review Commission (ARC) to be advisory to the Planning Commission
  • Setting a threshold of development review tiers (minor, moderate, major)
  • Consolidating multiple review applications to one final determination on all related review applications 

Council asked staff to come back at a later date with:

  • Updated regulations for tiny homes on wheels and to reduce the size to 300 square feet, not including the size of the loft.
  • Consider size criteria for Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) lot coverage and review excluding the owner occupancy requirement for an ADU in certain zones.
  • Consider implementing a new State Law to provide the ability to include child care facilities as part of affordable housing developments.
  • Further implement the City’s Climate Action Plan by requiring installation of electric vehicle capable parking spaces with new developments or significant remodels.
  • Return to the Planning Commission with plans to change the zoning of the 1100 block of Higuera Street and the 1100 through 1300 block of Monterey Street to incorporate requirements that take advantage of the increased height regulations to build additional affordable and workforce housing. 

Review of the City’s Zoning Regulations began in February 2017. Since then, the City has conducted more than 50 interviews with stakeholders and residents, held two public workshops, and conducted numerous study sessions with the Council, advisory bodies, stakeholders and consultants to receive input on the update.

CONTACT: Michael Codron, Community Development Director; (805) 781-7187