Chapter 17.38


17.38.010    Purpose.

17.38.020    Effect of overlay and special districts.

17.38.030    Hillside area overlay district (D1).

17.38.040    Priority development area (PDA) overlay district (D2).

17.38.050    Air quality health risk overlay district (D3).

17.38.060    Multifamily overlay district (MF).

17.38.070    Creek protection overlay district (CP).

17.38.080    Specific plan districts (SP#).

17.38.090    Designated housing element sites overlay district (HE).

17.38.010 Purpose.

A.    Overlay Districts. The overlay districts are created to supplement the development standards of underlying districts to protect unique site features or implement location-specific regulations. The city has five overlay zoning districts as follows:

1.    Hillside area overlay district (D1).

2.    Priority development area (PDA) overlay district (D2).

3.    Air quality health risk overlay district (D3).

4.    Multifamily overlay district (MF).

5.    Creek protection overlay district (CP).

B.    Special Districts. The special districts are created to identify adopted area plans, including but not limited to specific plans. The city has adopted two specific plans as follows:

1.    23rd Street Specific Plan (SP1).

2.    San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan (SP2). (Ord. 2015-002 § 3 (Exh. 1)(part), 2015)

17.38.020 Effect of overlay and special districts.

A.    Overlay Districts. The overlay districts supplement the provisions of the underlying districts. Where the provisions of the overlay district conflict with the provisions of the underlying zoning district, the provisions of the overlay district shall prevail.

B.    Special Districts. The specific plan district serves to replaces the zoning provisions for the property within the district boundaries. As such, land use designations, allowed uses and development standards within the specific plan shall be consistent with the adopted provisions in the specific plan. Where the specific plan document refers to citywide procedures or standards, the citywide procedures or standards shall apply. (Ord. 2015-002 § 3 (Exh. 1)(part), 2015)

17.38.030 Hillside area overlay district (D1).

The following provisions apply to the hillside area district (D1):

A.    Modifications to Underlying Districts.

1.    All structures that are more than one story in height shall require zoning administrator review in order to protect public safety in this generally unstable geologic area.

2.    Other than as provided in subsection (A)(1) of this section, the uses and development standards of the underlying districts shall apply.

B.    Findings. The following findings shall be made prior to granting approval or any other discretionary approval:

1.    A geotechnical report will be prepared to identity any particular geotechnical requirements or construction practices to protect the general public.

2.    The project is consistent with general plan and zoning standards.

3.    Design shall minimize grading, protect native trees, prevent significant alteration of natural hillside, and ensure revegetation.

4.    Fire protection shall be required and integrated in terms of water supply, fire access, and spacing around structures, and landscape. (Ord. 2015-002 § 3 (Exh. 1)(part), 2015)

17.38.040 Priority development area (PDA) overlay district (D2).

A.    Purpose and Intent. The purpose and intent of the PDA overlay district is to promote and provide for higher density and pedestrian oriented uses as part of, or in proximity to, transit stations in line with Plan Bay Area’s Sustainable Community Strategy. These areas are suitable for redevelopment to increase employment and housing at appropriate locations due to planned transit, pedestrian and bicycle design, and parking reduction and management strategies. All components required in regional PDA designations apply.

B.    Applicability. Priority Development Area (PDA) districts have been designated and adopted by city resolutions (2011-131, 2011-132, 2014-133), and are identified as Rumrill Road, 23rd Street Specific Plan and San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan.

1.    Priority Development Area (PDA) Designation. The PDA overlay zoning district (D2) shall be applied to properties that are located within one-quarter mile of an existing or planned light rail/streetcar station or bus rapid transit station. In determining the extent of the applicability, a circle of one-quarter mile in radius shall be drawn from a central point at the designated station location (e.g., station platform).

C.    Development Standards. The following development standards (see Table 17.38-A) are applicable to the PDA overlay district. These standards, along with other development standards (e.g., landscaping requirements, parking standards) in this title and citywide design guidelines, are intended to assist property owners and project designers in understanding the city’s minimum requirements and expectations for high-quality development. Where site development standards listed herein are in conflict with the site development standards in other chapters of this code or the underlying base zoning district, these standards shall apply. The designated approving authority will review development applications against these standards to determine compliance with applicable zoning regulations.

Table 17.38-A—Priority Development Area Overlay District: Development Standards

Density, min (du/ac)1


Density, max (du/ac)1


Floor area ratio (FAR), min2


Floor area ratio (FAR), max2


Height, max



1.    The minimum and maximum density standards are only applicable to mixed-use and integrated developments that include residential uses. Residential projects shall include a minimum of four units.

2.    Includes residential uses and square footage. See Division VI for definition of floor area ratio (FAR).

(Ord. 2015-002 § 3 (Exh. 1)(part), 2015)

17.38.050 Air quality health risk overlay district (D3).

A.    Purpose. The purpose of the air quality health risk overlay district (D3) is to protect sensitive receptors from toxic air emissions, consistent with Bay Area Air Quality Management District guidelines, along the Interstate 80 corridor.

B.    Standards. The following standards apply:

1.    Location. The zone extends five hundred feet from Interstate 80 on both sides of the freeway.

2.    Restricted Uses. The following uses shall not be located in the district: residential development, parks and other open spaces, schools, child care facilities, senior centers, hospitals, and medical facilities.

3.    Mitigation Measures. The City will require new development to provide project-level mitigation measures to reduce vulnerability to toxic air emissions from the freeway. (Ord. 2015-002 § 3 (Exh. 1)(part), 2015)

17.38.060 Multifamily overlay district (MF).

A.    Purpose. The purpose of the multifamily overlay district is to recognize and protect existing multifamily development located on parcel(s) with an underlying zoning district that no longer allows multifamily development. Parcel(s) with this overlay designation are recognized as multifamily in the city’s general plan land use and housing elements and contribute to the city’s ability to meet regional housing needs.

B.    Designation. Multifamily overlay districts shall be delineated on the zoning map with the symbol (MF) in conjunction with the underlying base zoning district.

C.    Allowed Uses. Allowed uses applicable to this overlay district include multifamily use, in addition to the allowed uses of the underlying zoning district.

D.    Development Standards. Existing multifamily development may be renovated or improved consistent with existing building envelopes. Any request to expand or rebuild an existing multifamily development in this overlay district shall be consistent with the development standards for the city’s higher density residential zoning districts (R-3 and R-4), dependent upon corresponding density range. Maintenance, renovations, improvements and expansion shall be consistent with Chapter 17.08, Nonconformities. (Ord. 2015-002 § 3 (Exh. 1)(part), 2015)

17.38.070 Creek protection overlay district (CP).

A.    Purpose. Creeks play an important role in groundwater recharge, surface water distribution, and flood management. As such, creeks are an important value to be protected.

B.    Designation. Creek protection overlay districts shall be delineated on the zoning map with the symbol (CP) in conjunction with the underlying base zoning district

C.    Standards. The following standards apply:

1.    No structure shall be placed in any floodway.

2.    Any structure in a floodplain shall have its finished floor at or above the one-hundred-foot floodline.

D.    Recommended Setbacks. Additional recommended setbacks are in the general plan stormwater policies and related exhibit. (Ord. 2015-002 § 3 (Exh. 1)(part), 2015)

17.38.080 Specific plan districts (SP#).

A.    Purpose. The purpose of the specific plan zoning district is to designate unique planning areas within the city for which the city council has adopted or requires adoption of a separate planning document (a specific plan) consistent with the general plan and state law. The contents, requirements, and adoption and amendment procedures for specific plans are listed in Section 17.22.030, Specific plan.

B.    Designation. Specific plan zoning districts shall be delineated on the zoning map in a manner similar to that of any other zoning district except that each specific plan-zoned area shall also bear a name, number, symbol, or other delineation, as determined by the zoning administrator, which distinguishes it from other specific plan zoning districts, base zoning districts, or overlay zoning districts. The assignment of the specific plan zoning district serves to provide a reference to the corresponding specific plan zoning document adopted by ordinance of the city council. Adopted specific plans are as follows:

1.    23rd Street Specific Plan (SP1).

2.    San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan (SP2)

C.    Allowed Uses. Allowed uses within the specific plan area are those listed uses in the adopted specific plan document as permitted, conditionally permitted, or not permitted.

D.    Development Standards. Development standards within the specific plan area are those standards listed in the adopted specific plan. (Ord. 2015-002 § 3 (Exh. 1)(part), 2015)

17.38.090 Designated housing element sites overlay district (HE).

A.    Purpose. The purpose of the designated housing element sites (HE) overlay district is to establish the maximum density requirements and ministerial review rights for certain properties that are designated for lower-income housing pursuant to California Housing Law as part of the city’s housing element, consistent with Government Code Sections 65583.2(h) and (i).

B.    Designation of HE Overlay Sites. The HE overlay is applied to the following parcels that have been identified in the 2008-2015, 2015-2023, and/or 2023-2031 Housing Elements as potential sites for lower-income housing:

1.    2405 Church Lane (APN 411-340-026).

2.    14560 San Pablo Avenue (APN 416-170-005).

3.    Unaddressed landlocked parcel behind 3436 San Pablo Dam Road (APN 420-130-020).

4.    3436 San Pablo Dam Road (APN 420-130-024).

5.    3440 San Pablo Dam Road (APN 420-130-025).

C.    Allowed Uses.

1.    Permitted Uses. Permitted uses on HE overlay sites are as indicated in table of use for the underlying zones of the properties (Table 2-2 of the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan for the SP-2 properties and Table 17.32.A of the zoning ordinance for the remaining properties).

2.    By-Right Approval for Lower-Income Residential Projects. Development projects on properties in the HE overlay which provide twenty percent or more of the units affordable to lower-income households shall only be subject to minor design review under Section 17.18.090. The zoning administrator shall approve a minor design review permit upon making a finding that the project complies with all applicable objective provisions of the zoning ordinance, municipal code, general plan, and any applicable specific plans or city regulations/standards. No other findings required by Section 17.18.090 or any discretionary approvals, including a conditional use permit, shall be required.

D.    Development Standards.

1.    The development standards for the properties in the HE overlay are the same as those required for the underlying zoning designation (i.e., those development standards set forth in Table 4-1, Development Standards by Land Use in the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan for the properties with an underlying SP-2 designation, and those development standards set forth in Division IV of this title for the properties that are not within the SP-2 district).

2.    In no case shall the development standards, including those for height or lot coverage, allow for less than thirty dwelling units per acre on the properties designated HE overlay when proposed for housing development with twenty percent or more of the units affordable to lower-income households. (Ord. 2023-006 § 2, 2024)