Chapter 17.86


17.86.010    Purpose and intent.

17.86.020    Area of application.

17.86.030    Definitions.

17.86.040    Land uses affected.

17.86.050    No net housing loss.

17.86.060    Exceptions.

17.86.070    Findings required.

17.86.080    Conditions of approval.

17.86.090    Public hearing—Notification.

*Prior history: Prior code §§ 9900—9906.

17.86.010 Purpose and intent.

It is the desire and intent of the city to preserve housing in the central business district and surrounding downtown planning area. It is also the intent of the city to preserve housing that is affordable to very low-, low- and moderate-income households and to encourage mixed residential and commercial uses, where appropriate, to implement general plan goals. The provisions of this chapter are intended to achieve these goals by regulating the conversion of downtown housing to nonresidential uses. (Ord. 1460 § 3 (part), 2004)

17.86.020 Area of application.

Provisions of this chapter shall apply to the downtown planning area shown in Figure 1. (Ord. 1460 § 3 (part), 2004)

17.86.030 Definitions.

Where not defined herein, terms shall be as defined in the zoning regulations, Title 17 of the Municipal Code.

A. Downtown Core. That central downtown area of the city zoned “C-D” (Downtown Commercial) in the most recently adopted zoning map.

B. Conversion. A change in the primary use of at least fifty-one percent of the floor area of a legally permitted dwelling or building from residential to nonresidential use, or physical change in design of fifty-one percent of an individual dwelling’s or building’s floor area to accommodate nonresidential uses.

C. Development Project. Any public or private action for which a city construction permit or planning approval is required, including architectural review, use permit, variance, subdivision or other approval.

D. Downtown Planning Area. The central part of the city, generally bounded by Highway 101, the railroad, and High Street, including the commercial core and surrounding neighborhoods, as shown in Figure 1.

E. Net Housing Loss. Where the number of residential units removed through demolition, remodeling or conversion to nonresidential uses exceeds the number of dwellings added through new construction, additions, remodeling, or relocation within the downtown core, or in the area outside the downtown core but within the downtown planning area. The cumulative number of dwellings added and residential units removed based on city final building inspections, within each of the above areas, shall be determined separately, and shall be based on the number of dwellings existing on March 30, 2004, as determined by the director.

F. Replacement Unit. A dwelling which is built, moved or remodeled to replace a residential unit lost through demolition or remodeling or conversion to nonresidential use.

G. Residential Use. A land use which includes “dwellings,” “boarding/rooming house,” “dormitory,” “residential care facilities,” “caretakers’ quarters,” “hotel/motel,” “hostel,” “bed and breakfast inn,” “fraternity (or sorority) house,” or “live-work unit,” as defined by the zoning regulations and listed in Table 9, Chapter 17.22 of the Municipal Code.

H. Residential Unit. A structure which is on a permanent foundation, with provisions for sleeping and sanitation, and which is permanently connected to utilities. A residential unit may or may not contain provisions for cooking, and may be single, detached or in a multiple unit, attached configuration.

I. Subarea. The geographic are corresponding to either the downtown core, or the area outside the downtown core but within the downtown planning area, as shown in Figure 1. (Ord. 1460 § 3 (part), 2004)

Figure 1 – Downtown Planning Area

17.86.040 Land uses affected.

Provisions of this chapter shall apply to properties that contain one or more dwelling units and to all group housing, including “boarding or rooming houses” or “dormitories,” “residential care facilities” or “caretakers’ quarters,” “hotels and motels” or “hostel” or “bed and breakfast inn,” “fraternity (or sorority) houses” which have one or more individual rooms for rent, and to “live-work units,” as defined by the zoning regulations and listed in Table 9, Chapter 17.22 of the Municipal Code. (Ord. 1460 § 3 (part), 2004)

17.86.050 No net housing loss.

Development projects within the downtown planning area shall not result in a net housing loss. If the director determines that a development project would result in a net housing loss, the developer shall replace residential units to be removed, whether the units to be removed are occupied or not. Residential units shall be replaced on a one-for-one basis, and shall be built concurrently with the development project. Replacement units may be of any size, type, or tenure, consistent with zoning regulations and as approved by the architectural review commission or the director. Replacement units shall be located within the same subarea as the units removed, but need not be located on the same site as previously existed. Development projects shall meet the following standards, to the approval of the director:

A. Vacation of Unit. Each tenant shall have the right to remain not less than sixty days from the date of city approval of a development project exception. The director or council may grant an extension to this right to remain for a period of time not to exceed an additional thirty days.

B. No Increase in Rent. A tenant’s rent shall not be increased during the period provided in subsection A of this section.

C. Affordability of Units. The development project shall include dwelling units affordable to low and moderate income persons, at rents or sales prices that meet the city’s affordable housing standards. The number of dwellings to be rented or sold at affordable levels shall equal the maximum number of affordable dwellings that existed within the twenty-four-month period immediately prior to the application for the conversion permit, but in no case less than that required under the inclusionary housing affordable housing requirement in the general plan housing element.

D. Tenant Relocation Assistance. For very low-, low-, or moderate-income residents displaced by the development project, the developer shall provide relocation assistance, to the approval of the director. Such assistance may include, but is not limited to: giving tenants the first right of refusal to purchase or rent affordable replacement units, reimbursement of moving costs, and/or providing rental. (Ord. 1460 § 3 (part), 2004)

17.86.060 Exceptions.

The city council may grant exceptions to the provisions of this chapter, subject to the findings listed in Section 17.86.070. In granting an exception, the city council may establish conditions to ensure the intent of general plan policies is met, as described in Section 17.86.080. The application requirements and procedures shall be as required for a planning commission use permit as provided in Chapter 17.58. (Ord. 1460 § 3 (part), 2004)

17.86.070 Findings required.

To grant an exception, the city council must make each of the following findings:


A. Approval of an exception is consistent with the San Luis Obispo general plan and specifically, with housing element policies regarding no net housing loss, affordable housing, and mixed uses in the downtown planning area.

B. Granting the exception will not adversely affect affordable housing opportunities for very low-, low-, or moderate-income persons, either individually or cumulatively.

C. The proposed project will not result in a significant loss of housing when compared with the total number of existing dwellings in the downtown core or downtown planning area outside the core.

D. Granting the exception will further the achievement of other community goals, such as removing substandard or dangerous housing, improving physical accessibility, rehabilitating a historic structure, or downtown beautification.

E. It is physically infeasible to rehabilitate or relocate the housing to be removed or converted.

F. No public purpose would be served by the strict enforcement of the no net loss policy due to mitigating factors (include specific mitigating factors). (Ord. 1460 § 3 (part), 2004)

17.86.080 Conditions of approval.

The city council may establish conditions of approval which provide for the general health, safety and welfare of residents displaced by the proposed development, and to achieve the intent of general plan housing conservation policies and mitigate the loss of housing. (Ord. 1460 § 3 (part), 2004)

17.86.090 Public hearing—Notification.

Prior to acting on an exception request, the city council shall hold a public hearing, and notice of the time, date, place and purpose of the hearing shall be given to the residents of the proposed conversion and to owners and residents within three hundred feet of the affected property. Said property shall be posted, and an advertisement shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation, at least ten days before the public hearing. (Ord. 1460 § 3 (part), 2004)