Part 2. Zoning Districts and Overlay Zones

Chapter 17.16


17.16.010    Purpose of the residential zoning districts.

17.16.020    Land use regulations. Revised 4/23

17.16.030    Development standards. Revised 4/23

17.16.010 Purpose of the residential zoning districts.

A. General. The purpose of the residential zoning districts is to support attractive, safe, and friendly neighborhoods consistent with Capitola’s intimate small-town feel and coastal village charm. Development within the residential zoning districts will feature high-quality design that enhances the visual character of the community. The mass, scale, and design of new homes shall be compatible with existing homes in neighborhoods and carefully designed to minimize impacts to existing homes. Residential zoning districts contain a range of housing types and community facilities to support diverse and complete neighborhoods with a high quality of life for residents.

B. Specific.

1. Residential Single-Family (R-1) Zoning District. The purpose of the R-1 zoning district is to protect and enhance the unique qualities of individual neighborhoods in Capitola. The R-1 zoning district allows for variation in development standards based on the existing development patterns within these neighborhoods. New development will respect the existing scale, density, and character of neighborhoods to strengthen Capitola’s unique sense of place.

2. Residential Multifamily (RM) Zoning District. The purpose of the RM zoning district is to accommodate a range of housing types to serve all Capitola residents. The RM zoning district allows single-family and multifamily housing at higher densities to maintain and increase the supply of affordable housing choices. Housing in the RM zoning district will be carefully designed to enhance Capitola’s unique identity and to minimize impacts on adjacent land uses and structures. The RM zone is divided into three subzones (RM-L, RM-M, and RM-H) allowing for a range of permitted residential densities.

3. Mobile Home Park (MH) Zoning District. The MH zone provides areas for exclusive development of mobile home parks. Mobile home parks provide a valuable source of affordable housing serving Capitola’s lower-income and senior residents. (Ord. 1043 § 2 (Att. 2), 2020)

17.16.020 Land use regulations. Revised 4/23

A. Permitted Land Uses. Table 17.16-1 identifies land uses permitted in the residential zoning districts.

Table 17.16-1: Permitted Land Uses in the Residential Zoning Districts 


Zoning District



Permitted Use




Additional Regulations


Administrative Permit required


Minor Use Permit required


Conditional Use Permit required

Use not allowed

Residential Uses

Duplex Homes



Elderly and Long-Term Care



Group Housing



Mobile Home Parks


P [1]

Chapter 17.100

Multifamily Dwellings



Residential Care Facilities, Small



C [2]


Residential Care Facilities, Large



C [2]

Section 17.96.080

Accessory Dwelling Units



Chapter 17.74

Single-Family Dwellings



C [2]


Public and Quasi-Public Uses

Community Assembly





Day Care Centers





Home Day Care





Parks and Recreational Facilities




Public Pathways and Coastal Accessways





Schools, Public or Private




Commercial Uses

Bed and Breakfast




Vacation Rentals

See Section 17.40.030


Transportation, Communication, and Utility Uses

Utilities, Major





Utilities, Minor





Wireless Communications Facilities

See Chapter 17.104


Other Uses

Accessory Uses and Structures

P [3]

P [3]

P [3]

Chapter 17.52

Home Occupation




Section 17.96.040

Temporary Uses and Structures



Section 17.96.180

Urban Agriculture

Home Gardens





Community Gardens





Urban Farms






[1] May include offices incidental and necessary to conduct a mobile home park use.

[2] Permitted on the mobile home park parcel or on a separate parcel of no less than five thousand square feet.

[3] An accessory structure that exceeds the development standards of Chapter 17.52 requires a conditional use permit.

B. Additional Permits. In addition to permits identified in Table 17.16-1, development projects in the residential zoning districts may also require a design permit pursuant to Chapter 17.120 (Design Permits). Modifications to a historic resource may require a historic alteration permit pursuant to Chapter 17.84 (Historic Preservation). Development in the coastal zone may require a coastal development permit pursuant to Chapter 17.44 (Coastal Overlay Zone) independent of and in addition to any other required permit or approval. (Ord. 1057 § 2 (Att. 1), 2022; Ord. 1043 § 2 (Att. 2), 2020)

17.16.030 Development standards. Revised 4/23

A. General Standards – Single-Family and Multifamily Zoning Districts. Table 17.16-2 identifies development standards that apply in the R-1 and RM zoning districts.

Table 17.16-2: Development Standards in the R-1 and RM Zoning Districts 




Additional Standards

Site Requirements

Parcel Area, Minimum [1]

5,000 sq. ft.



Parcel Width, Minimum [1]

30 ft.



Parcel Depth, Minimum [1]

80 ft.



Floor Area Ratio, Maximum

See Section 17.16.030(B)(1)


Section 17.16.030(B)

Section 17.48.040

Building Coverage, Maximum




Open Space


Section 17.16.030(C)(2)


Parcel Area per Unit, Minimum


RM-L: 4,400 sq. ft.

RM-M: 2,900 sq. ft.

RM-H: 2,200 sq. ft.


Parking and Loading

See Chapter 17.76


Structure Requirements

Setbacks, Minimum


Sections 17.48.030(B)(2) through (6)


Ground floor: 15 ft.

Garage: 20 ft.

Second story: 20 ft.

Main structure: 15 ft.

Garage: 20 ft.

Section 17.16.030(B)(2)

Section 17.16.030(B)(5) Garage Setback: Section 17.16.030(B)(4)


20% of parcel depth; 25 ft. max.

15% of parcel depth

Section 17.16.030(B)(5)

Interior Side

Ground floor: 10% of parcel width [2]

Second story: 15% of parcel width

10% of parcel width [2]

Sections 17.16.030(B)(5) and (6)

Street Side, Corner Lots

10 ft.

10 ft.

Section 17.16.030(B)(5)

Height, Maximum

25 ft.

RM-L: 30 ft.

RM-M: 30 ft.

RM-H: 35 ft.

Sections 17.16.030(B)(7) and (8)

Section 17.48.020

Accessory Structures

See Chapter 17.52



[1] Parcel area, width, and depth requirements apply only to the creation of new parcels. These requirements do not apply to legally created parcels existing as of June 9, 2021. See Title 16 (Subdivisions) for requirements that apply to lot line adjustments to existing parcels that do not comply with the parcel area, width, and depth requirements in this table.

[2] Regardless of parcel width, in no case shall the minimum required interior side ground setback be less than three feet or greater than seven feet.

B. Additional Standards in the R-1 Zoning District. The following additional standards apply in the R-1 zoning district:

1. Floor Area Ratio. Table 17.16-3 identifies the maximum permitted floor area ratio (FAR) in the R-1 zoning district. See Section 17.48.040(B) for floor area calculations.

Table 17.16-3: Maximum Floor Area Ratio in the R-1 Zoning District 

Lot Size

Maximum FAR

2,650 sq. ft. or less


2,651 to 3,250 sq. ft.


3,251 to 3,500 sq. ft.


3,501 to 3,750 sq. ft.


3,751 to 4,000 sq. ft.


4,001 to 4,250 sq. ft.


4,251 to 4,500 sq. ft.


4,501 to 4,750 sq. ft.


4,751 to 5,000 sq. ft.


5,001 to 6,000 sq. ft.


More than 6,000 sq. ft.


2. Front Setbacks in Riverview Terrace. Within the areas shown in Figure 17.16-1, the planning commission may approve a reduced front setback to reflect existing front setbacks on neighboring properties within one hundred feet on the same side of the street. The reduced front setback shall in all cases be no less than ten feet.

Figure 17.16-1: Riverview Terrace

3. Wharf Road Reduced Setback. For properties on the east side of Wharf Road from 1820 Wharf Road to 1930 Wharf Road, the planning commission may approve a reduced front setback to reflect existing front setbacks on neighboring properties within one hundred feet on the same side of the street.

4. Garage Setbacks.

a. Attached garages shall be set back a minimum of five feet behind the front or street side building wall of the primary structure. The planning commission may reduce this minimum setback to three feet in sidewalk exempt areas.

b. Required setbacks for detached garages are identified in Chapter 17.52 (Accessory Structures and Uses).

5. Corner Lots.

a. The minimum rear setback for reverse corner lots shall be the minimum interior side yard of the adjacent property, but no less than four feet. See Figure 17.16-2.

b. On a corner lot, the front line of the lot is ordinarily construed as the least dimension of the parcel facing the street. The community development director has the discretion to determine the location of the front yard based on existing conditions and functions.

Figure 17.16-2: Reverse Corner Lot Rear Setback

6. Second-Story Setback Exceptions. Second-story additions must comply with increased setback requirements in Table 17.16-2, except in the following cases:

a. For lots thirty feet wide or less, the minimum interior side setback for a second story is the same as the ground floor.

b. Up to twenty percent of the length of an upper-story wall may be constructed at the same setback as the first-floor wall if the first-floor wall is at least four feet from the side property line. See Figure 17.16-3.

Figure 17.16-3: Second-Story Setback Exception

7. Height Exceptions. A maximum height of up to twenty-seven feet in the R-1 zoning district is allowed in the following circumstances:

a. Additions to historic structures that are designed to match the roof pitch of the historic structure within the area of new addition.

b. Parcels greater than six thousand square feet in size.

c. Parcels with a width sixty feet or more.

d. Parcels with an average slope of twenty-five percent or greater.

e. When the plate height of structure does not exceed twenty-two feet.

8. Landscaping. See Section 17.72.050(A) for residential landscape requirements.

9. Mini-Bar/Convenience Areas.

a. A single-family home may contain one mini-bar/convenience area in addition to a kitchen, subject to the following standards:

i. Fixtures shall be limited to a small refrigerator, a microwave oven, and a small sink with a drain size less than one and one-half inches.

ii. No gas line or two-hundred-twenty-volt electric service is permitted within the area.

iii. Only one such area is permitted within a property in addition to the kitchen.

iv. The mini-bar/convenience area may be located inside or outside of the home. If located inside the home, internal access to the area shall be maintained within the dwelling. A mini-bar/convenience area is permitted in addition to an outdoor kitchen.

b. The requirements in subsection (B)(9)(a) of this section shall not limit the establishment of an accessory dwelling unit in conformance with Chapter 17.74 of this code (Accessory Dwelling Units).

10. Outdoor Kitchens. On a lot occupied by a single-family home, an outdoor kitchen is permitted in addition to an indoor kitchen. Outdoor kitchens shall comply with the following standards:

a. The kitchen may include gas, electric and plumbing.

b. Electric service may not be two hundred twenty volts.

c. Drain size may not exceed that allowed for a mini-bar.

d. The kitchen may project into the rear setback area as provided in Table 17.48-3.

11. Second-Story Decks and Balconies.

a. An upper floor deck in excess of one hundred fifty square feet is included in the floor area ratio calculation.

b. A second-story deck or balcony may not face an interior side parcel line abutting a lot with a single-family dwelling.

c. A second-story deck or balcony must comply with the following minimum parcel line setback requirements:

i. Rear: twenty-five percent of lot depth.

ii. Front: twenty feet.

iii. Interior and street side: ten feet.

d. A permanent privacy screen (e.g., opaque glass) is required for rear deck along the railing parallel to the interior side property line facing a single-family dwelling

e. A second-story deck or balcony may not project further than six feet from the exterior building wall to which it is attached.

f. Roof decks are prohibited in the R-1 zoning district.

g. The elevation of a freestanding deck or platform not attached to a building may not exceed thirty-five inches above the adjoining grade.

Figure 17.16-3a: R-1 Second-Story Decks and Balconies

C. Additional Standards for RM Zoning Districts. The following additional standards apply in the RM zoning district:

1. Single-Family Dwellings. Single-family dwellings in RM zoning districts shall comply with the development standards that apply in the R-1 zoning district.

2. Open Space. Common and private open space in the RM zoning district shall be provided as shown in Table 17.16-4 and Figure 17.16-4.


Table 17.16-4: Usable Open Space in RM Zoning District

Common Open Space [1]

Minimum area (percent of site area)

15% [2] [3]

Minimum horizontal dimension

15 ft.

Private Open Space [4]

Minimum percentage of units with private open space


Minimum area (for individual unit)

48 sq. ft.

Minimum horizontal dimension

4 ft.


[1] Common open space shall be fully landscaped and accessible to all residents.

[2] See subsection (C)(4) of this section for requirements that apply to rooftop decks used as common open space.

[3] The planning commission may allow reduced common open space to a minimum of ten percent for projects less than one acre in size or for projects that provide additional private open space equal to or greater than the amount of reduced common open space.

[4] Private open space may include screened terraces, decks, balconies, and other similar areas.

Figure 17.16-4: Private Open Space

3. Landscaping. See Section 17.72.050(A) for residential landscape requirements.

4. Objective Standards for Multifamily Dwellings. New multifamily dwellings in the RM zoning district must comply with Chapter 17.82 of this code (Objective Standards for Multifamily and Mixed-Use Residential Development).

5. Upper-Level Decks and Balconies.

a. For parcels that abut the R-1 zoning district, second-story decks and balconies must comply with the standards in subsection (B)(11) of this section (Second-Story Decks and Balconies) and Section 17.82.080(B)(5) of this code (Neighbor Privacy).

b. Roof decks must comply with the following standards:

i. Roof decks are not permitted on parcels that abut the R-1 zoning district.

ii. Roof decks require a design permit.

iii. Roof decks may provide up to fifty percent of the minimum required common open space specified in subsection (C)(2) of this section.

iv. Where permitted, a roof deck must be set back at least five feet from the building wall closest to the property line.

v. Railings to accommodate a roof deck may project forty-two inches above the maximum building height in cases where the roof deck provides open space for residents.

vi. Other than as needed to provide for roof access, no permanent structure that has a solid roof and/or is enclosed on two or more sides may be placed on or attached to a roof deck. Fully transparent glass wind barriers are allowed.

vii. Roof decks may not be placed on building features that project above the maximum building height permitted in the zoning district.

D. Standards for the MH Zoning District. Table 17.16-5 identifies development standards that apply in the mobile home park (MH) zoning district.

Table 17.16-5: MH Zoning District Development Standards 


Additional Standards

Site Area [1]

5 acres [2]


Residential Density, Maximum

20 units per acre


Setbacks [3]




15 ft.


Interior Side

10 ft.


Exterior Side

10 ft.



20 ft.



[1] Applies to overall mobile home park area, not sites for individual units.

[2] For vacant property rezoned to MH, the minimum lot area is five acres. For existing mobile home parks, the minimum parcel size is five acres or the existing parcel size, whichever is less.

[3] Applies only to the perimeter of the mobile home park, not to sites and structures within the interior of the park.

(Ord. 1057 § 2 (Att. 1), 2022; Ord. 1053 § 3, 2022; Ord. 1043 § 2 (Att. 2), 2020)