Chapter 19.44
AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND DENSITY BONUSES

Sections:

19.44.010    Purpose.

19.44.020    Inclusionary units.

19.44.030    In-lieu fees.

19.44.040    Eligibility for bonus and incentives.

19.44.050    Types of bonuses and incentives allowed.

19.44.060    Continued availability.

19.44.070    Location of inclusionary and bonus units.

19.44.080    Processing of density bonus/incentive requests.

19.44.010 Purpose.

This chapter delineates city requirements pertaining to inclusionary affordable units. In addition, as required by state law (Government Code Section 65915), this chapter offers incentives to developers for providing housing that is affordable to the types of households and qualifying residents identified in SMC 19.44.040, Eligibility for bonus and incentives. The incentives include the ability to construct more residential dwelling units than normally allowed by the applicable General Plan designation and zoning district, and other incentives and concessions provided by this chapter. In offering these incentives and concessions, this chapter is intended to implement the requirements of state law (Government Code Sections 65302, 65913, and 65915 et seq.). (Ord. 02-2014 § 1 (Exh. A), 2014; Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003).

19.44.020 Inclusionary units.

A. Applicability. The provisions of this section shall apply to any discretionary or ministerial approvals for new residential and the residential component of mixed-use development projects.

B. Exemptions. The following shall not be subject to the provisions of this section:

1. Existing residences that are altered, improved, restored, repaired, expanded or extended; provided, that the number of dwelling units is not increased and that the existing floor area of the dwelling is not increased by 850 square feet or more. These units will be subject to a fee per square foot for any increase in square footage greater than 850 square feet.

2. New dwelling units of 850 square feet or less.

3. Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) constructed pursuant to SMC 19.50.090 (Accessory dwelling units).

C. Inclusionary Requirements.

1. A development containing five or more parcels or units shall provide the following affordable housing units:

a. Rental Projects. A rental project shall provide that at least 25 percent of the total parcels and/or units are rental units that are affordable to households in the extremely low, very low, and low income categories. The required number of affordable units shall be provided as follows:

i. Five percent for rent to households earning not more than extremely low income (ELI) household category;

ii. Ten percent for rent to households earning not more than very low income (VLI) household category;

iii. Ten percent for rent to households earning not more than low income (LI) household category;

The first required unit shall be provided at the ELI household category, the second shall be VLI, third required unit shall be LI, and the fourth unit shall be middle income and so forth repeated.

b. Ownership Projects. An ownership project shall provide that at least 25 percent of the total parcels and/or units are ownership units that are affordable to households in the low, moderate, and middle income categories. The required number of affordable units shall be provided as follows:

i. Five percent for sale to households earning not more than low income (LI) household category;

ii. Ten percent for sale to households earning not more than moderate income (M) household category; and

iii. Ten percent for sale to households earning not more than middle income (MI) household category.

The first required unit shall be provided at the LI household category, the following unit shall be provided at moderate income household category, followed by a unit at the middle income household category and so forth repeated.

2. A development containing four or fewer parcels or units shall pay a fee pursuant to SMC 19.44.030 – In-lieu fees.

D. Fractional Units. When the application of the percentages specified above results in a number that includes a fraction, the fraction shall be rounded up to the next whole number if the fraction is 0.50 or more. If the result includes a fraction below 0.50, the developer shall have the option of rounding up to the next whole number and providing the affordable unit on site, or paying an in-lieu fee instead of providing an additional affordable unit.

E. Replacement Units. If a proposed residential project would result in the elimination of existing deed-restricted affordable dwelling units, the affordable dwelling units must be replaced on a one-for-one basis with equal affordability restrictions.

F. Inclusionary Unit Development Standards. Each housing unit that is constructed to provide affordable housing in compliance with this section shall comply with all of the following standards:

1. Timing of Construction. Affordable units shall be constructed concurrently with the other units in the project. Where construction phasing is necessary, each phase shall provide the same ratio of lower or moderate income units to the market rate or other unrestricted units in the phase as that required for the development as a whole.

2. Location Within Overall Development. Affordable units shall be integrated into the overall project design and distributed throughout the development.

3. Unit Size.

a. The average floor area of each individual affordable unit shall be at least 75 percent of the average floor area of rental units in the development and the same number of bedroom as the market rate units.

b. The mix of unit sizes and numbers of bedrooms in the affordable units shall be similar to the mix of unit sizes and bedroom counts provided in the development as a whole; except that the affordable units may have less floor area than the market rate units to assist in achieving affordability, provided the units comply with the average floor area requirement in subsection (F)(3)(a) of this section.

4. Exterior Appearance. Exterior appearance and quality of the affordable units shall be the same as the market-rate units, with exterior materials and appointments similar to, and architecturally compatible with, the market-rate units in the development.

5. Upgrades. A developer shall not offer upgrades of materials to renters or buyers of affordable dwelling units where the upgrades would increase the total price paid by the buyer to the developer, or total rent paid by the tenant, for the affordable dwelling unit to above the specified affordable rent or sales price.

6. Residents of inclusionary units shall have access to the project’s common open spaces or recreational amenities.

7. Accessory dwelling units shall not be counted toward meeting a project’s inclusionary housing requirements.

8. Inclusionary units may be for-sale or rental units. This determination shall be stated in the project narrative and noted on the site plan reviewed and approved by the planning commission. A rental project shall provide rental affordable housing units and an ownership project shall provide ownership affordable housing units. Conditions of approval regarding the affordable housing units shall clearly identify if the units are for-sale or rental units. (Ord. 06-2021 § 1, 2021; Ord. 02-2014 § 1 (Exh. A), 2014; Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003).

19.44.030 In-lieu fees.

As provided in SMC 19.44.020(C)(2), an in-lieu fee may be paid instead of providing affordable units in a residential project of four or fewer units. Additionally, as provided in SMC 19.44.020(D), if the number of affordable units results in a fractional unit below 0.50 an in-lieu fee may be paid instead of providing an affordable unit. In-lieu fees shall be paid prior to issuance of the building permit(s) for the project. The in-lieu fees shall be paid into the city’s housing trust fund, earmarked for the advancement and development of very low, low, and moderate income housing. The city council shall, from time to time, adopt a resolution setting forth the amount of the fees. (Ord. 06-2021 § 1, 2021).

19.44.040 Eligibility for bonus and incentives.

A developer of a housing development in the city may be permitted a density bonus and incentives in accordance with the provisions of California Government Code Sections 65915 through 65918 (State Density Bonus Law), subject to the processing requirements set forth in SMC 19.44.080. (Ord. 06-2021 § 1, 2021; Ord. 02-2014 § 1 (Exh. A), 2014; Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003. Formerly 19.44.025).

19.44.050 Types of bonuses and incentives allowed.

A qualifying residential development project shall be entitled to the following density bonus and other incentives. If a density bonus and/or other incentives cannot be accommodated on a parcel due to strict compliance with the provisions of this development code, the planning commission is authorized to waive or modify development standards as necessary to accommodate all bonus units and other incentives to which the development is entitled.

A. Density Bonus.

1. Minimum Percentage Required. The density bonus allowed by this chapter shall consist of a percentage increase in the number of dwelling units normally allowed by the General Plan designation and zoning district applicable to the parcel as of the date of filing for the development project application. The percentage increase shall be calculated in accordance with Government Code Section 65915(f). Inclusionary units required pursuant to SMC 19.44.020 shall be included when calculating a density bonus.

2. Only One. A single development project shall not be granted more than one density bonus in compliance with this chapter.

B. Incentives. A qualifying residential development project shall be entitled to incentives and/or concessions as provided for by state law (Government Code Section 65915(k)):

1. Reduction in Standards. A modification (reduction or increase) of the site development standards of this development code (e.g., parking design requirements, setbacks, site coverage, zero lot line and/or reduced parcel sizes, etc.) that would result in identifiable, financially sufficient, and actual cost reductions;

2. Mixed Use Zoning. Approval of mixed use zoning in conjunction with the residential development project if nonresidential land uses would reduce the cost of the project, and the nonresidential land uses would be compatible with the project and surrounding development;

3. Other Incentives. Other regulatory incentives or concessions proposed by the developer or the city that would result in identifiable, financially sufficient, and actual cost reductions; and

4. Alternative Parking Ratios. Use of the parking ratios that result in a parking reduction in excess of that provided in the parking standards set forth in Government Code Section 65915(c). (Ord. 06-2021 § 1, 2021; Ord. 02-2014 § 1 (Exh. A), 2014; Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003. Formerly 19.44.030).

19.44.060 Continued availability.

The land use permit application for the residential development project shall include the procedures proposed by the developer to maintain the continued affordability of the inclusionary and density bonus units in the following manner:

A. Development Projects with City Funding. Projects receiving a direct financial contribution or other financial incentives from the city, or a density bonus and at least one other concession or incentive, shall maintain the availability of the lower income density bonus units in perpetuity;

B. Private Development Projects – Inclusionary and Density Bonus Only. Privately financed projects that receive a density bonus as the only incentive from the city shall maintain the availability of lower income density bonus units in perpetuity; and

C. Affordability Agreement. Affordability shall be guaranteed through an “affordability agreement” executed between the developer and the city (on a standard “For Sale” or “Rental” form approved by the city council). The project specific “affordability agreement” shall be approved by the city attorney and planning director particular to the project. The agreement shall be recorded on the subject property with the county recorder’s office before the issuance of building permits and shall become effective before final inspection of the first unit. The subject agreement shall be legally binding and enforceable on the property owner(s) and any subsequent property owner(s) for the duration of the agreement. The agreement shall include the following items:

1. Number and Duration. The number of, and duration of the affordability for, the affordable units;

2. Monitoring Affordability. The method in which the developer and the city are to monitor the affordability of the subject affordable units and the eligibility of the tenants or owners of those units over the period of the agreement;

3. Marketing of Units. The method in which vacancies would be marketed and filled;

4. Location and Type. A description of the location and unit type (bedrooms, floor area, etc.) of the affordable units within the project; and

5. Standards for Incomes and Rents/Sales Prices. Standards for maximum qualifying household incomes and standards for maximum rents or sales prices consistent with the most recently adopted affordability policies of the city of Sonoma and Section 50053 of the Health and Safety Code. (Ord. 06-2021 § 1, 2021; Ord. 03-2016 § 5, 2016; Ord. 02-2014 § 1 (Exh. A), 2014; Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003. Formerly 19.44.040).

19.44.070 Location of inclusionary and bonus units.

As required by state law (Government Code Section 65915(g)), the location of density bonus units within the qualifying project may be at the discretion of the developer. Normally, inclusionary affordable units should be reasonably dispersed throughout the development and should be compatible with the design or use of the market-rate units in terms of appearance, materials, and finish quality. The clustering of affordable units may be permitted by the planning commission, when consistent with the design and site planning characteristics of a particular development. (Ord. 06-2021 § 1, 2021; Ord. 02-2014 § 1 (Exh. A), 2014; Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003. Formerly 19.44.050).

19.44.080 Processing of density bonus/incentive requests.

A. Eligibility. To be eligible for consideration of a density bonus and related incentives, an application for a state density bonus shall be submitted with the first application for approval of a housing development and shall be processed concurrently with all other applications required for the housing development. At a minimum, the following information shall be provided:

1. A site plan showing the total number and location of all proposed housing units and the number and location of proposed housing units which qualify the housing development for density bonus housing units.

2. The manner in which the applicant shall satisfy the affordability requirements for the housing units which qualify the housing development for density bonus units.

3. A description of any requested incentives and concessions, waivers or modification of development standards, or modified parking standards. For all incentives and concessions, except mixed use development, the application shall include evidence that the requested incentives and concessions result in identifiable, financially sufficient, and actual cost reductions. For waivers or modifications of development standards, the application shall include evidence that the waiver or modification is necessary to make the housing units economically feasible and that the development standard from which a waiver or modification is requested will have the effect of precluding the construction of the housing development at the densities to which the applicant is entitled pursuant to this article and with the concessions and incentives permitted by this chapter.

B. Approval of Incentives. Reductions in development standards for developments featuring density bonus units may be approved by the planning commission. The provision of any other incentives shall be subject to the approval of the city council. The council or commission shall approve the above incentives or concessions, notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, unless it makes written findings in compliance with state law (Government Code Section 65915(d)). (Ord. 06-2021 § 1, 2021; Ord. 02-2014 § 1 (Exh. A), 2014; Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003. Formerly 19.44.060).