Chapter 24.02


24.02.010    Short title and citation.

24.02.020    Purpose of the zoning ordinance.

24.02.030    Contents of the zoning ordinance.

24.02.040    Principles and standards of the zoning ordinance.

24.02.050    Interpretation.

24.02.060    General Plan consistency.


These regulations shall be known and may be cited as the “Zoning Ordinance of the city of Santa Cruz” or the “Zoning Ordinance.”

(Ord. 85-05 § 1 (part), 1985).


The purpose of this title is to protect and promote the public health, safety, morals, peace, prosperity, and the general community welfare; to encourage orderly, compatible and beneficial uses of land in a manner that will be of benefit to the general community as well as to neighborhoods and individuals; to enhance the aesthetic quality of the natural and built environment of the community which, in addition to being a general concern to the citizenry, contribute to the recreational, resort- and visitor-oriented sectors of the local economy; to secure freedom of choice and initiative to all persons in the use of privately owned land, insofar as that use is not harmful to the public health, safety, or general community welfare; to prevent unnecessary regulation or arbitrary restrictions in the exercise of private initiative and property use; to minimize conflicts between private individuals or groups, or other conflicts which might result from incompatible or inappropriate adjacent land uses; and to establish simple and readily available procedures through which private individuals or groups, the planning department, the planning commission, or the city council may initiate zoning changes as evolving community needs dictate. Further, the purpose of these regulations is to establish land use regulations and a zoning plan for the city of Santa Cruz deemed necessary to encourage the most socially desirable use of the land; to maintain and enhance the desirable character of neighborhoods; to provide open space for light and air, and to prevent and fight fires; to prevent residential congestion; to promote orderly community development; to lessen traffic congestion; to facilitate adequate provisions for community utilities such as transportation, schools, parks, sewer, water and storm drain facilities; to prevent pollution of air, water, and other natural resources; and to otherwise promote health, safety, and the general community welfare all in accordance with the Santa Cruz General Plan.

(Ord. 85-05 § 1 (part), 1985).


The Zoning Ordinance of the city of Santa Cruz consists of a zoning map designating certain zoning districts, and a set of regulations controlling the uses of land, the density of population, the uses and the locations, the height and the bulk of structures, the open spaces about structures, the function and the appearance of certain uses and structures, the areas and the dimensions of sites; and requirements for off-street parking and off-street loading facilities within such districts.

(Ord. 85-05 § 1 (part), 1985).


The Zoning Ordinance of the city of Santa Cruz has been prepared in accordance with the following principles and standards:

1.    The ordinance is based on development policies contained in the Santa Cruz General Plan as to the general pattern of future land uses, population densities, and other planning principles. It is based on the General Plan Land Use Map, insofar as zoning districts established herein generally correspond to the land use designations of said map.

2.    The ordinance recognizes the need of all uses to be protected from other uses which are unrelated or incompatible.

3.    The ordinance recognizes the importance of order and beauty in the overall character and appearance of Santa Cruz and to the public welfare and the general economy. These values are sought to be achieved through the review of siting, function, landscaping, and general appearance of selected uses, structures and buildings. Such provisions are intended to provide the minimum amount of regulation necessary to encourage orderliness and compatibility of structures and appearance and to encourage opportunity for variety and innovation.

4.    Lot area, yards, off-street parking, and other standards in the ordinance are based on accepted contemporary planning practices. Variance from the strict application of standards is available when extreme individual hardship would otherwise occur. Other modification procedures exist where unique site or land use characteristics suggest that the purpose of this ordinance is furthered by such modifications.

5.    Review of individual projects is necessary for implementation of community-wide planning policy. This ordinance provides for specialized procedures for the review and approval of:

(a)    Integrated, large-scale projects;

(b)    Multi-phased projects;

(c)    Mixed use developments;

(d)    Neighborhood commercial uses.

6.    Uses which may adversely affect adjoining uses or areas, unless designed or arranged in a particular way or situated only in certain locations, are allowed only as “conditional uses” subject to the authority of appropriate hearing officers or bodies.

7.    The ordinance recognizes the need to minimize adverse impacts of development on natural and built environments through prescribed environmental review procedures.

8.    The need for the coordination of existing and proposed land uses with the provision of public review is recognized herein.

9.    The need for specialized housing opportunities, including provisions for the creation of low-income and moderate-income housing, is recognized herein.

10.    The ordinance recognizes the need for the development of systems of transportation offering alternatives to automobile travel.

(Ord. 95-31 § 1, 1995: Ord. 85-05 § 1 (part), 1985).


In their interpretation and application, the provisions of this title shall be held to be the minimum requirements. Where this title imposes a greater restriction than is imposed or required by other rules, regulations or ordinances, the provisions of this title shall control. Where provisions of this title are in conflict, the more restrictive provisions shall apply.

1.    Authority. Authority to interpret the provisions of this title shall rest with the planning director. Appeals of such decisions shall be made to the planning commission.

(Ord. 88-28 § 1, 1988: Ord. 85-05 § 1 (part), 1985).


1.    Consistency Requirement. The zoning regulations established by this title shall be consistent with the General Plan. “Consistent with,” as used in this section, means that the allowable uses authorized by this title are compatible with the objectives, policies, general land uses and programs specified in the

General Plan and the Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan.

2.    Discretionary Uses. Land uses which are permitted by discretionary approval shall be deemed to be consistent with the General Plan, provided the approving body makes a finding of consistency before approving the use.

3.    Maintaining Consistency. Whenever an amendment to the General Plan is adopted, then, within a reasonable period of time after the amendment’s final adoption, an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance shall be considered, where necessary, to maintain consistency. Any amendment to the Zoning Ordinance enacted after December 14, 1995, the effective date of the ordinance codified in this section, must be consistent with the General Plan or the General Plan must be amended prior to or concurrently with the Zoning Ordinance change.

(Ord. 95-31 § 2, 1995).