Chapter 17.20


17.20.010    Purpose.

17.20.020    Applicability.

17.20.030    Definitions.

17.20.040    Uses permitted with a development agreement.

17.20.050    Development incentives.

17.20.060    Assurance of affordability.

17.20.070    Pre-application procedure.

17.20.080    Application – Development plans and map required.

17.20.090    Findings.

17.20.010 Purpose.

A. The affordable housing overlay (AHO) district is intended to facilitate the provision of affordable housing units as defined in Section 17.20.030 through the retention and rehabilitation of existing units, or the construction of new units. The AHO district is intended to provide the opportunity and means for the city to meet its regional fair share allotment of such units, and to implement the policies and goals of the housing element of the city’s general plan.

B. These regulations are intended to encourage the development of affordable housing units by assisting both the public and private sector in making the provision of these units economically viable, while providing assurances to the city that these units will maintain a high degree of quality and will remain affordable to the target population over a reasonable duration of time.

C. These regulations are further intended to encourage the provision of affordable housing through the combination of the AHO district with multiple-family residential zoning districts within the city where the affordable housing projects are determined to be feasible and are consistent with the city’s general plan.

D. The affordable housing overlay provides a density increase for affordable housing development that in most cases exceeds density bonuses permitted by state law (Government Code Section 65915). Consequently, a development may utilize the affordable housing overlay as an alternative to the use of state density bonus but may not utilize both the affordable housing overlay and state density bonuses.

E. The affordable housing overlay is intended to provide a means of directing and simplifying the process for creating and maintaining affordable housing.

F. The affordable housing overlay is also intended to provide incentives to developers whether in new or rehabilitated housing, to maintain rental units for the long term, e.g., not less than fifty-five years, and affordable ownership units in perpetuity. (Ord. 950 § 1, 2010)

17.20.020 Applicability.

The regulations set forth in this chapter may be applied to specific sites meeting the following criteria:

A. Be located in the multiple-family residential zoning districts;

B. Is not located in the R-1 zoning district;

C. One acre in size. (Ord. 950 § 1, 2010)

17.20.030 Definitions.

A. “Affordable housing” means housing capable of being purchased or rented by a household with “very low,” “low,” or “moderate” income levels at an “affordable housing cost” or “affordable rent,” as those terms are defined by the state of California.

B. “Affordable housing overlay district” means a zoning district that applies in addition to existing zoning designation where the city encourages the provision of affordable housing units as described in this chapter.

C. The “very low,” “low,” and “moderate” income levels are defined by the state of California in Sections 50105, 50079.5, and 50093, respectively, of the California Health and Safety Code, and in Subchapter 2 of Chapter 6.5 of Division 1 of Title 25 of the California Code of Regulations, commencing with Section 6900. These income levels are:

1. Very Low Income. Up to and including fifty percent of the Santa Cruz County median income, adjusted for family size, as defined by the state law;

2. Lower Income. Fifty-one percent to eighty percent of Santa Cruz County median income, adjusted for family size, as defined by the state law;

3. Moderate Income. Eighty-one percent to one hundred twenty percent of Santa Cruz County median income, adjusted for family size, as defined by state law.

D. “Affordable housing cost” and “affordable rent” are defined in Sections 50052.5 and 50053, respectively, of the California Health and Safety Code, and in Subchapter 2 of Chapter 6.5 of Division 1 of Title 25 of the California Code of Regulations, commencing with Section 6900.

E. All of the state laws and regulations referenced above, or their successors, as the same from time to time may be amended, are incorporated herein as though fully set forth. In the event of any inconsistency or discrepancy between the income and affordability levels set forth in this chapter and the levels set in state laws and regulations, the state provisions shall control. (Ord. 950 § 1, 2010)

17.20.040 Uses permitted with a development agreement.

The following uses are permitted with the execution of a development agreement by the city and the developer in accordance with the provisions of California Government Code Section 65864 et seq.

A. Residential developments at a density greater than normally permitted by the underlying, multiple-family zoning district (up to twenty units per acre), when the development provides a substantial level of affordable housing units, as defined in Section 17.20.030. A substantial level is defined herein as a minimum of fifty percent of the units in the project be income restricted affordable housing, of which, no less than fifty percent of those units (twenty-five percent of the total) shall be affordable to households earning low, very low and extremely low incomes. A greater level of affordability will not allow a greater level of density. The twenty units/acre limit shall be based on a calculation that includes all existing and all new units on the land area that is being included in the calculation.

B. Accessory uses or structures incidental to the principally permitted use. (Ord. 950 § 1, 2010)

17.20.050 Development incentives.

A. General. In order to reduce costs associated with the development and construction of affordable housing, the property development standards set forth in subsection C of this section are established for the AHO district. These property development standards represent a relaxation of standards normally applied to housing in the city and are established in order to facilitate and promote the development of affordable housing in the city and shall be extended upon issuance of a design permit for architectural and site review. As a further inducement to the development of affordable housing beyond the relaxation and flexibility of development standards, the city, where appropriate, may also extend one or more of the development incentives set forth in subsection D, the selection of which shall depend on the quality, size, nature, and scope of the project being proposed. Incentives shall be targeted to improve the project design or to yield the greatest number of affordable units and required level of affordability, so as to permit the city to meet its regional fair share allotment of affordable housing and the goals of the housing element of the city’s general plan. It is also the intent of the city to facilitate affordable housing by encouraging developer involvement with the city’s redevelopment agency and other public and private entities concerned with the provision of affordable housing and by cooperating with such entities.

B. Eligibility. To be eligible for the property development standards set forth in subsection C of this section requires the developer to propose a housing development containing at least fifty percent affordable units. All affordable units can be in a single category or there can be a mixture of affordable unit types (although twenty-five percent of total must be affordable to low, very low or extremely low income households) which include:

1. Moderate income households; or

2. Lower income households; or

3. Very low income households; or

4. Extremely low income households.

C. Property Development Standards. The following development standards shall apply to affordable housing units in the AHO district:

1. General Design Standards. The affordable housing units shall be designed and developed in a manner compatible with and complementary to existing and potential development in the immediate vicinity of the project site. Site planning on the perimeter shall provide for protection of the property from adverse surrounding influences and shall protect surrounding areas from potentially adverse influences from the property. To the greatest extent possible, the design of the development shall promote privacy for residents and neighbors, security, and use of passive solar heating and cooling through proper placement of walls, windows, and landscaping. Building design and materials shall blend with the neighborhood or existing structures on the site.

2. Minimum Design Standards. Unless modified by the planning commission, the following design standards shall apply to a project that utilizes the density increases allowed by this section.

a. The front facade and main entrance of dwellings adjacent to the front property line shall face the street and must be clearly articulated through the use of architectural detailing.

b. The front entrance of the dwelling facing the street should be defined by at least one of the following: a porch of at least eight feet in width and depth, roof overhang, or similar architectural element.

c. Except for a basement-level garage below grade, any garage, carport or other accessory structure, attached or detached, shall be located at least fifteen feet behind the front of the principal building facing the front property line.

d. Sidewalks shall be installed along all street frontages.

e. Existing vegetation on perimeter shall be preserved to maintain a buffer to existing surrounding structures. Existing significant trees are to remain whenever feasible.

f. The planning commission may waive, or modify, any, or all, of these requirements when the commission finds it is infeasible to comply due to physical or other constraints on the lot.

3. Minimum Building Site Area and Lot Area Per Dwelling Unit. There shall be no minimum building site area requirement for individual lots or individual dwelling sites in an affordable housing development. The building site area shall be designated on a site plan approved by the planning commission pursuant to Chapter 17.63, Architectural and Site Review.

4. Density. In multiple-family residential districts, overall density of site development within an AHO district shall not exceed twenty units per acre. A development may utilize the affordable housing overlay as an alternative to the use of state density bonus but may not utilize both the affordable housing overlay and state density bonuses. Density averaging may be used to achieve an overall acceptable density level for a project. As used herein, “density averaging” means meeting the density requirements by averaging the density on a project-wide basis so as to permit higher density levels in certain project portions in exchange for advantageous project design features. In all zoning districts, density permitted by the AHO district shall not exceed what can be accommodated by the site while meeting parking, unit size, and other development standards.

5. Building Height. The building height shall not exceed two-stories or twenty-seven feet from existing grade or finish grade, whichever is more restrictive.

6. Setbacks. The minimum setbacks from the lot line of the project shall be determined through approval of a design permit/architectural and site review with the exception of setbacks from property lines adjacent to R-1 zoned property, which shall be a minimum of twenty feet for first floors and fifty feet for second floors.

7. Lot Coverage. The maximum lot coverage for a proposed project shall be determined through the design permit/architectural and site review.

8. Parking. R-1 parking standards shall apply with a minimum two spaces per unit. In addition, a minimum of one visitor parking space for every seven units shall be required.

9. Common Open Space. Common open space shall comprise the greater of: (a) ten percent of the total area of the site; or (b) seventy-five square feet for each dwelling unit. Land occupied by buildings, streets, driveways, parking spaces, utility units, and trash enclosures shall not be counted in satisfying the open space requirement; land in landscaping and passive and active recreation/open space with a minimum depth/width of five feet shall be counted, and land occupied by recreational buildings and structures shall be counted.

10. Streets. All public streets within or abutting the proposed planned development shall be dedicated and improved to city specifications for the particular classification of street; all private streets shall meet fire code and access standards.

11. Accessory Uses and Structures. Accessory uses and structures shall be located as specified on the site plan as approved by the planning commission.

12. Signs. Signs shall be permitted only to the extent allowed under Chapter 17.57 and must be approved by the planning commission.

D. Additional Development Incentives. In addition to the relaxed and flexible development standards set forth in subsection C of this section, the city may offer other development incentives should the developer meet the eligibility requirements. For example, exceptions, waivers or modifications of other development standards which would otherwise inhibit density and achievement of affordable housing goals for the development site, including, but not limited to, placement of public works improvements. (Ord. 950 § 1, 2010)

17.20.060 Assurance of affordability.

Affordable housing units developed under this chapter shall remain available to persons and families of very low, low and moderate income, at an affordable housing cost or affordable rental cost, as those income and affordability levels as defined in Section 17.20.030, for a period of not less than fifty-five years, unless a longer period is required by a construction or mortgage financing program, mortgage insurance program, California Redevelopment Law, or housing grant, loan or subsidy program. The period of affordability required hereunder shall run concurrently with any period of affordability required by any other agency; provided, however, that the affordability period shall not be less than as set forth in this section. The project developer shall be required to enter into an appropriate agreement with the city to ensure affordability is maintained for the required period. (Ord. 950 § 1, 2010)

17.20.070 Pre-application procedure.

Prior to submitting an application for an affordable housing development, the applicant or prospective developer should hold preliminary consultations with the community development department, redevelopment agency, and other city staff as may be desirable, to obtain information and guidance before entering into binding commitments or incurring substantial expense in the preparation of plans, surveys and other data. Such preliminary consultations should include information on potential federal, state, and local affordable housing funding availability, and program requirements in guaranteeing the project’s consistency with the objectives of this overlay district. (Ord. 950 § 1, 2010)

17.20.080 Application – Development plans and map required.

An application for an affordable housing development must be for a parcel or parcels of land, is under the control of the person, corporation, or entity proposing the development. The application shall be accomplished by the submittal of the following plans and maps with the city’s standard application form:

A. A boundary survey map of the property or, if the applicant proposes to subdivide the property, a subdivision map;

B. Topography of the property and the preliminary proposed finished grand shown at contour intervals of not to exceed two feet;

C. The gross land area of the development, the present zoning classification and land use of the area surrounding the proposed development, including the location of structures and other improvements;

D. A general development plan with at least the following details shown to scale and dimensions:

1. Location of each existing and each proposed structure in the development area, the use or uses to be contained therein, the number of stories, gross building and floor areas, approximate location of entrances thereof,

2. All streets, curb cuts, driving lanes, parking areas, public transportation points and illumination facilities for the same,

3. All pedestrian walks, malls and open areas for use of occupants and members of the public,

4. Location and height of all walls, fences and screen planting, including a detailed plan for the landscaping of the development and the method by which such landscaping is to be accomplished,

5. Types of surfacing, such as paving or turfing to be used at various locations,

6. A preliminary grading plan of the area;

E. Plans and elevations of building and structures sufficient to indicate the architectural style and construction standards;

F. The proposed means for assuring the continuing existence, maintenance and operation of the project as an affordable housing project;

G. Such other information as may be required by the director to allow for a complete analysis and appraisal of the planned development. (Ord. 950 § 1, 2010)

17.20.090 Findings.

In approving a development project which utilizes the affordable housing overlay zone, the city council, upon the recommendation of the planning commission, shall make the following findings to ensure that the application is appropriate to the purpose and the location:

A. The concessions granted for density and deviation from design standards, are commensurate with the level of affordability. Specifically, the greater the extent of concessions and incentives, the greater the level of affordability.

B. The design of the proposed project, even with the concessions for density and deviation from design standards, is appropriate for the scale and style of the site (where additional units are being added to an existing development) and surrounding neighborhood. Specifically, the development will provide an attractive visual transition and will not significantly impact the integrity of the surrounding neighborhoods.

C. The developer has agreed to enter into an agreement to maintain the affordability of the project specific to the requirements of the city and any funding sources with greater or longer affordability requirements.

D. If located within the coastal zone, the project is found to be in conformity with the Local Coastal Program, including, but not limited to, sensitive habitat, public viewshed, public recreational access and open space protections. (Ord. 950 § 1, 2010)