Chapter 19.54
PLANNING PERMIT APPROVAL OR DISAPPROVAL

Sections:

19.54.010    Purpose of chapter.

19.54.020    Zoning clearance.

19.54.030    Temporary use permits.

19.54.040    Use permits.

19.54.050    Exceptions.

19.54.060    Variances.

19.54.070    Planned development permit.

19.54.080    Site design and architectural review.

19.54.090    Demolition permit.

19.54.100    Request for reasonable accommodation.

19.54.010 Purpose of chapter.

This chapter provides procedures for the final review, and approval or disapproval of the planning permit applications established by this development code. Procedures and standards for the review and approval of subdivision maps and related applications are found in Division VI, Subdivisions. Where applicable, the procedures of this chapter are carried out after those described in Chapter 19.52 SMC, Applications: Filing and Processing, for each application. (Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003).

19.54.020 Zoning clearance.

A. Purpose. The issuance of a zoning clearance is the procedure used by the city to verify that a proposed structure or land use complies with the permitted list of activities allowed in the applicable zoning district, and the development standards applicable to the type of use. Where Division II, Community Design, requires a zoning clearance as a prerequisite to establishing a land use, the city planner shall evaluate the proposed use to determine whether the clearance may be granted in compliance with this section.

B. Applicability. A zoning clearance shall be required at the time of planning division review of any building, grading or other construction permit, or other authorization required by this development code for the proposed use. Where no other authorization is required, a request for zoning clearance shall be filed with, and use the forms provided by the division.

C. Criteria for Clearance. The city planner may issue the zoning clearance after determining that the request complies with all development code provisions applicable to the proposed use. (Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003).

19.54.030 Temporary use permits.

A. Purpose. A temporary use permit allows short-term activities that might not meet the normal development or use standards of the applicable zoning district, but may be acceptable because of their temporary nature. In addition, a temporary use permit may be granted by the planning commission in order to test the compatibility of a conditionally allowed use.

B. Permitted Temporary Uses. The following temporary uses may be permitted in any zoning district (except as otherwise stated below) subject to the issuance of a temporary use permit. Uses that do not fall within the categories defined below shall instead comply with the use and development restrictions and permit requirements that otherwise apply to the property, in compliance with Division II of this title (Community Design).

1. Construction Yards. Off-site contractors’ construction yards in conjunction with an approved construction project.

2. Seasonal Sales Lots and Activities. Christmas tree sales lots or the sale of other seasonal products, haunted houses, along with temporary residence/security trailers. A permit shall not be required when the sales are in conjunction with an established commercial business holding a valid business license, provided the activity does not consume more than 15 percent of the total parking spaces on the site and does not impair emergency vehicle access.

3. Festivals on Private Property. Carnivals, circuses, festivals, ethnic celebrations, and other similar special events on private property may be approved in mixed use, wine production, and commercial zoning districts; provided, that they do not continue for more than five consecutive days, and do not occur more often than four times per year. These uses shall also comply with any requirements of other city departments.

4. Temporary Offices and Work Trailers. A trailer, coach or mobile home as a temporary office facility, or work site for employees of a business:

a. During construction or remodeling of a permanent commercial or industrial structure or residential development when a valid building permit is in force; or

b. Upon demonstration by the applicant that this temporary facility is a short-term necessity while a permanent facility is being obtained or constructed.

5. Special Events. The rental or other use of property by third parties for weddings, receptions, private parties, music performances, and similar events may be approved in any zoning district; provided, that they do not continue for more than one day and do not occur more often than two times per year. These uses shall also comply with any requirements of other city departments. The requirement for a temporary use permit shall not apply to special events conducted in accordance with applicable conditions of approval within an approved special events venue or other site for which a use permit for the same or substantially similar special events has previously been issued.

6. Similar Temporary Uses. Similar temporary uses to those specified above which, in the opinion of the city planner, are compatible with the zoning district and surrounding land uses.

7. Trial Use. At its discretion, the planning commission may approve a temporary use permit in order to verify the compatibility of a proposed conditional use. This allowance shall not apply to applications involving new structures or building modifications for which a building permit is required.

C. Duration. A temporary use permit may be granted for up to one year. An extension, not to exceed one year, may be authorized by the planning commission, subject to the findings set forth in subsection (J) of this section. The extension of a temporary use permit by the planning commission shall be subject to the public notice and hearing requirements set forth in Chapter 19.88 SMC (Public Hearings).

D. Temporary Uses Regulated by Other Provisions of the Municipal Code. The following temporary uses are subject to the referenced municipal code provisions instead of the requirements of this section:

1. Location Filming. Location filming is subject to the provisions of Chapter 7.40 SMC.

2. City Parks and Playing Fields. The use of city parks, playing fields and other city-owned property is subject to the provisions of SMC 9.12.280.

3. Parades. Parades on city streets are subject to the provisions of SMC 12.20.030.

E. Development Standards. Standards for structure setbacks, heights, floor areas, parking and other structure and property development standards that apply to the type of use or the zoning district of the site may be applied to temporary uses, as deemed appropriate by the review authority.

F. Application Requirements. A temporary use permit application shall be filed with the planning department. The application shall be accompanied by the following:

1. Illustrations. Sketches or drawings of sufficient size and clarity to show without further explanation the following: size and location of the property, location of adjacent streets, location and size of all structures on the site, location of structures on adjacent lots, location and number of parking spaces, and location of any temporary fences, signs, or structures to be installed as part of the temporary use;

2. Statement of Operations. Letter describing the hours of operation, days that the temporary use will be on the site, number of people staffing the use during operation, anticipated number of people using the facility during commercial operation, and other information about the operation of the use that pertains to the impact of the use on the community or on adjacent uses; and

3. Notice to Abutting Property Owners. The applicant shall be responsible for providing notice to abutting property owners of the proposed use. This notice shall describe the proposed use, including dates and times of operation.

G. Administrative Approval. At the discretion of the city planner, an application for a temporary use permit may be approved administratively, except for “trial uses” and any activity of more than one year in duration.

H. Referral to Planning Commission. At the discretion of the city planner, a temporary use permit may be referred to the planning commission for a hearing and decision.

I. Project Review, Notice and Hearing. Each temporary use permit application shall be analyzed by the city planner to ensure that the application is complete and proposes a use that is consistent with the purpose and intent of this section and shall be circulated to other city departments and outside agencies as applicable. For a temporary use permit application or extension that is subject to the review of the planning commission, the planning commission shall conduct a public hearing. Notice of the public hearing shall be provided, and the hearing shall be conducted in compliance with Chapter 19.88 SMC (Public Hearings).

J. Findings, Decision. A temporary use permit may be approved, modified, conditioned, or disapproved by the review authority (city planner or planning commission, as applicable). The review authority may approve or conditionally approve a temporary use permit application only if all the following findings are made:

1. That the establishment, maintenance or operation of the temporary use will not, under the circumstances of the particular case, be detrimental to the health, safety, or general welfare of persons residing or working in the neighborhood of the proposed use;

2. The temporary use, as described and conditionally approved, will not be detrimental or injurious to property and improvements in the neighborhood or to the general welfare of the city; and

3. The temporary use does not involve the construction of new permanent structures for which a building permit is required.

In making these determinations, the review authority shall take into consideration the limited duration of the proposed use.

K. Conditions of Approval. In approving an application for a temporary use permit, the review authority may impose conditions deemed necessary to ensure that the permit will be in compliance with the findings required by subsection (J) of this section.

L. Condition of Site Following Temporary Use. Each site occupied by a temporary use shall be cleaned of debris, litter, or any other evidence of the temporary use upon completion or removal of the use, and shall thereafter be used in compliance with the provisions of this development code. A bond may be required prior to initiation of the use to ensure cleanup after the use is finished.

M. Revocation. A temporary use permit may be revoked by the city planner at any time for failure to comply with the conditions of approval, this section, or the SMC.

N. Temporary Use Permits Not Transferable. A temporary use permit granted in compliance with this section and all of the rights and privileges granted thereunder are restricted to and operate only in favor only of the applicant and shall not be transferable upon a change of ownership or tenancy of the site that was the subject of the permit application. (Ord. 02-2012 § 5 (Exh. B), 2012; Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003).

19.54.040 Use permits.

A. Purpose. Use permits are intended to allow for activities and uses which may be desirable in the applicable zoning district and compatible with adjacent land uses, but whose effect on the site and surroundings cannot be determined prior to being proposed for a particular location. The procedures of this section provide for the review of the location, design, configuration, and potential impacts of the proposed use, to evaluate the compatibility of the proposed use with surrounding uses and the suitability of the use to the site.

B. Applicability. A use permit is required to authorize proposed land uses and activities identified by Division II, Community Design, as being allowable in the applicable zoning district subject to the approval of a use permit and to authorize modifications to previously approved use permits.

C. Application Requirements. An application for a use permit shall be filed and processed in compliance with Chapter 19.52 SMC, Applications: Filing and Processing.

D. Project Review, Notice and Hearing. Each use permit application shall be analyzed by the city planner to ensure that the application is consistent with the purpose and intent of this section. The planning commission shall conduct a public hearing on an application for a use permit. Notice of the public hearing shall be provided, and the hearing shall be conducted in compliance with Chapter 19.88 SMC, Public Hearings.

E. Findings, Decision. Following a public hearing, the planning commission may approve or disapprove an application for a use permit. The planning commission shall record the decision and the findings upon which the decision is based. The planning commission may approve a use permit only if the planning commission first finds that:

1. The proposed use is consistent with the General Plan and any specific plan;

2. The proposed use is allowed with a conditional use permit within the applicable zoning district and complies with all applicable standards and regulations of this development code (except for approved variances and exceptions);

3. The location, size, design, and operating characteristics of the proposed use are compatible with the existing and future land uses in the vicinity; and

4. The proposed use will not impair the architectural integrity and character of the zoning district in which it is to be located.

F. Conditions of Approval. In approving a use permit, the planning commission may adopt any conditions of approval deemed necessary to achieve consistency with the General Plan and any applicable specific plan, compliance with the provisions and purposes of this development code, and the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare.

G. Expiration. A use permit shall be exercised within one year from the date of approval or the permit shall become void, unless an extension is approved in compliance with Chapter 19.56 SMC, Permit Implementation, Time Limits, Extensions.

H. Use Permits to Run with the Land. A use permit granted in compliance with this section shall continue to be valid upon a change of ownership of the site, business, service, use or structure that was the subject of the permit application. (Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003).

19.54.050 Exceptions.

A. Purpose. The provisions of this section allow for limited adjustments to the physical and quantified development standards of this development code in response to environmental features and site conditions, historic development patterns of the property or neighborhood, and in the interest in promoting creativity and personal expression in site planning and development.

B. Applicability. The planning commission may grant an exception to the requirements of this development code governing only the following requirements of Divisions II, III, and IV:

1. Dimensional standards (i.e., distance between structures, building area and coverage, landscape and paving requirements, setbacks, and structure heights);

2. Number and dimensions of parking areas, loading spaces, landscaping or lighting requirements, except as otherwise provided in this development code;

The authority to grant exceptions does not include allowed land uses, residential density regulations, subdivision standards, or fence heights. An exception may not exceed 30 percent of the standard from which relief is sought.

C. Application Requirements. An application for an exception shall be filed in compliance with SMC 19.52.040, Application preparation and filing. It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide evidence in support of the findings required by subsection (E) of this section, Findings, Decision.

D. Project Review, Notice and Hearing. Each exception application shall be reviewed by the city planner to ensure that the application is consistent with the purpose and intent of this section. The planning commission shall hold a public hearing in compliance with Chapter 19.88 SMC, Public Hearings, and may approve or disapprove the exception in compliance with this section.

E. Findings, Decision. Following a public hearing, the planning commission may approve, approve subject to conditions, or disapprove the exception. The planning commission shall record the decision and the findings upon which the decision is based. The planning commission may approve an application, with or without conditions, only if the planning commission first finds that:

1. The adjustment authorized by the exception is consistent with the General Plan, any applicable specific plan, and the overall objectives of this development code;

2. An exception to the normal standards of the development code is justified by environmental features or site conditions; historic development patterns of the property or neighborhood; or the interest in promoting creativity and personal expression in site planning and development;

3. Granting the exception will not be detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare, or injurious to the property or improvements in the vicinity and in the same zoning district.

F. Conditions. Any exception granted shall be subject to conditions that will ensure that the exception is compatible with adjacent properties.

G. Expiration. An exception shall be exercised within one year from the date of approval, or the exception shall become void, unless an extension is approved in compliance with Chapter 19.56 SMC, Permit Implementation, Time Limits, Extensions. (Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003).

19.54.060 Variances.

A. Purpose. The provisions of this section allow for variances from the development standards of this development code only when, because of special circumstances applicable to the property, including size, shape, topography, location or surroundings, the strict application of this development code denies the property owner privileges enjoyed by other property owners in the vicinity and under identical zoning districts.

B. Applicability. The planning commission may grant a variance from the requirements of this development code governing only the following development standards:

1. Dimensional standards (i.e., distance between structures, parcel area, building coverage, landscape and paving requirements, parcel dimensions, setbacks, and structure heights);

2. Number and dimensions of parking areas, loading spaces, landscaping or lighting requirements, except as otherwise provided in this development code.

The power to grant variances does not include allowed land uses, or residential density regulations.

C. Application Requirements. An application for a variance shall be filed in compliance with SMC 19.52.040, Application preparation and filing. It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide evidence in support of the findings required by subsection (E) of this section, Findings, Decision.

D. Project Review, Notice and Hearing. Each variance application shall be reviewed by the city planner to ensure that the application is consistent with the purpose and intent of this section. The planning commission shall hold a public hearing in compliance with Chapter 19.88 SMC, Public Hearings, and may approve or disapprove the variance in compliance with this section.

E. Findings, Decision. Following a public hearing, the planning commission may approve, approve subject to conditions, or disapprove the variance. The planning commission shall record the decision and the findings upon which the decision is based. The planning commission may approve an application, with or without conditions, only if the planning commission first finds that:

1. The adjustment authorized by the variance is consistent with the General Plan and any applicable specific plan;

2. There are special circumstances applicable to the property (i.e., size, shape, topography, location or surroundings), such that the strict application of the requirements of this development code deprives the property owner of privileges enjoyed by other property owners in the vicinity and within the same zoning district;

3. Granting the variance is necessary for the preservation and enjoyment of substantial property rights possessed by other property owners in the same vicinity and zoning district and denied to the property owner for which the variance is sought;

4. The adjustment authorized by the variance will not constitute a grant of special privileges inconsistent with the limitations on other properties in the vicinity and in the same zoning district;

5. Granting the variance will not be detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare, or injurious to the property or improvements in the vicinity and in the same zoning district.

F. Conditions. Any variance granted shall be subject to conditions that will ensure that the variance does not grant special privilege(s) inconsistent with the limitations upon other properties in the vicinity and same zoning district.

G. Expiration. A variance shall be exercised within one year from the date of approval, or the variance shall become void, unless an extension is approved in compliance with Chapter 19.56 SMC, Permit Implementation, Time Limits, Extensions. (Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003).

19.54.070 Planned development permit.

A. Purpose. The planned development permit is intended to provide a process for allowing greater flexibility in site planning and design than afforded by the general development standards of this development code, to encourage more innovative and desirable projects, and efficient use of land than may be possible through strict application of conventional zoning regulations. In general, planned development permits are intended to address development under the following circumstances:

1. Properties with unique, challenging, or valuable topographic or environmental features;

2. Infill properties that are oddly shaped, narrow, or otherwise difficult to design for using normal development standards;

3. Site plans or building designs that are clearly responsive to the objectives of this development code, but which require variations from the normal development standards in order to achieve a useful innovation or a higher level of design quality than would otherwise be possible;

4. Developments that include affordable housing, where departures from normal development standards are used to reduce development costs while maintaining design quality.

A planned development permit shall not be granted solely for the purpose of maximizing development potential or for merely allowing the development of individual units on separate lots.

B. Applicability. Planned development permits may be requested for any development project in any residential, mixed use, or commercial zoning district. Flexibility in the application of development standards may only be authorized with regard to the following requirements of Divisions II, III, and IV:

1. Structure location and setbacks, yard areas, and open spaces;

2. Parking and loading requirements, ingress and egress location;

3. Fences, walls and screening;

4. Landscaping requirements;

5. Lot area and dimensions.

The power to modify development standards through a planned development permit does not include allowed land uses, residential density regulations, or building heights.

C. Application Requirements. An application for a planned development shall be filed in compliance with SMC 19.52.040, Application preparation and filing. It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide evidence in support of the findings required by subsection (F) of this section, Findings, Decision.

D. Project Review, Notice and Hearing. Each planned development application shall be reviewed by the city planner to ensure that the application is consistent with the purpose and intent of this section. The planning commission shall hold a public hearing in compliance with Chapter 19.88 SMC, Public Hearings, and may approve, approve with conditions, or disapprove the planned development permit in compliance with this section.

E. Objectives. In the course of reviewing an application for a planned development permit, the planning commission shall evaluate it in terms of the following objectives, as applicable:

1. General Objectives.

a. Integrating environmental features and other site characteristics into the development plan;

b. Establishing appropriate relationships between the development and adjoining properties, in terms of setbacks, yard orientation, and building heights;

c. Creating high quality common and/or private open space; and

d. Appropriately relating building mass to lot size and to adjacent development.

2. Objectives for Residential and Mixed Use Development.

a. Providing well-designed affordable units;

b. Contributing toward variety in housing types and tenure, especially through the provision of a substantial component of smaller, attached units and unit types that address identified community needs, to the extent compatible with neighborhood conditions;

c. Facilitating mixed use development that is well-integrated internally and with respect to adjoining uses in terms of the type, siting, and arrangement of uses.

Any application for a planned development permit shall be shall be considered in relation to these objectives, the development standards and design guidelines of this development code, other applicable ordinances of the city, and applicable General Plan policies.

F. Findings, Decision. Following a public hearing, the planning commission may approve, approve subject to conditions, or disapprove the planned development permit. The planning commission shall record the decision and the findings upon which the decision is based. The planning commission may approve a planned development permit application with or without conditions, only if the planning commission finds that:

1. The planned development permit is consistent with the General Plan, any applicable specific plan, and the intent and applicable objectives of this section;

2. The design of the development is consistent with the intent of applicable regulations and design guidelines of the development code;

3. The various use and development elements of the planned development relate to one another in such a way as to justify exceptions to the normal standards of the development code;

4. The design flexibility allowed by the planned development permit has been used to creatively address identified physical and environmental constraints and/or meet identified housing needs; and

5. The proposed development will be well-integrated into its setting, will relate appropriately to adjacent uses, and will retain desirable natural features of the site and the surrounding area.

G. Expiration. A planned development permit shall be exercised within one year from the date of approval or the permit shall become void, unless an extension is approved in compliance with Chapter 19.56 SMC, Permit Implementation, Time Limits, Extensions. (Ord. 03-2016 § 4 (Exh. D), 2016; Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003).

19.54.080 Site design and architectural review.

A. Purpose. This section establishes the review procedures necessary to ensure that all applicable development projects comply with the required standards, design guidelines and ordinances of the city; minimize potential adverse effects on surrounding properties and the environment; implement general plan policies regarding community design; and promote the general health, safety, welfare, and economy of the residents of the city. Therefore, it is the purpose of this section to:

1. Protect and enhance historic buildings and the city’s historic character;

2. Encourage the orderly and harmonious appearance of structures and property within the city along with associated facilities, landscaping, parking areas, and streets;

3. Recognize the interdependence of land values and aesthetics and provide a method by which the city may implement this interdependence; and

4. Ensure that new developments, including residential, institutional, commercial, and industrial developments, build on the city’s character and do not have an adverse aesthetic impact upon existing adjoining properties, the natural environment, or the city in general.

B. Applicability. The review of project site planning and architectural design is an integral part of the development approval process. Therefore, each project that requires approval of a building permit, unless exempted as set forth below, shall require review and approval by the planning commission and/or the design review and historic preservation commission (DRHPC), as applicable, prior to the issuance of a building permit or the commencement of any work on a new structure, or improvements to alter, enlarge, remodel, repair, or otherwise change the exterior of an existing structure.

1. Residential Development. Design review shall be required for new residential development, the alteration and enlargement of existing residential structures, and residential accessory structures, as set forth in the following table:

Design Review Requirements for Residential Development 

Development Type/Condition

Design Review Requirement

Inside Historic Zone

Outside Historic Zone

1. New Development

Single-family development, fewer than five units, and associated accessory structures.

Yes

No

Single-family development, five or more units.

Yes

Yes

Duplex, and associated accessory structures.

Yes

No

Triplex, PUD, or other multifamily, and associated accessory structures.

Yes

Yes

2. Existing Development

Maintenance, repainting, in-kind replacement of exterior materials.

No

No

Reroofing.

No

No

Interior remodeling.

No

No

Exterior alterations for which no building permit is required.

No

No

3. Existing Residential Development, Constructed Prior to 1945

Alterations to existing structures that increase floor area by 10% or 200 square feet, whichever is greater.

Yes

No

Alterations to existing structures requiring a building permit that result in substantive changes to a primary or street-side building elevation.

Yes

No

Other exterior alterations or additions for which a building permit is required.

No

No

Building relocation.

Yes

Yes

Change in roof design (e.g., alterations in pitch and height).

Yes

No

4. SFD/Duplexes, Constructed in 1945 or Later

Additions.

No

No

Exterior alterations (including change in roof design).

No

No

Relocation.

No

No

5. Multifamily, Constructed in 1945 or Later (Including Planned Unit Developments)

Alterations to existing structures that do not increase floor area by more than 10% or result in substantive changes to a primary or street-side building elevation.

No

No

Other exterior alterations or additions that require a building permit.

Yes

Yes

Change in roof design (e.g., alterations in pitch and height).

Yes

Yes

6. Other

Detached residential accessory structures developed in conjunction with an existing primary residence.

No

No

Landscape modifications, existing single-family residences and duplexes.

No

No

Significant alterations to approved landscaping plan, existing multifamily development/PUDs (private yard areas excepted).

Yes

Yes

2. Commercial and Mixed Use Development. Design review shall be required for new commercial and mixed use development (including public and quasi-public facilities) and the alteration and enlargement of existing structures, as set forth in the following table:

 

Design Review Requirements for Commercial Uses and Mixed Uses 

Development Type/Condition

Design Review Requirement

New construction and building additions.

Yes

Maintenance and in-kind replacement of exterior materials.

No

Exterior building modifications for which a building permit is required.

Yes

Repainting, except when the existing color scheme is substantially retained.

Yes

Improvements to existing parking facilities with 10 or less spaces.

No

Improvements to existing parking facilities with 10 or more parking spaces.

Yes

Lighting of parking areas.

Yes

Landscaping for a new development or significant alteration to an approved landscape plan (excluding private yards).

Yes

Accessory structures not in public view.

No

3. Demolitions. Demolitions shall be regulated as provided for under SMC 19.54.090 (Demolition permit).

4. Signs. Signs shall be regulated as provided for under SMC Title 18.

5. Use Permits. Notwithstanding the exemptions identified in subsections (B)(1) and (2) of this section, the planning commission may impose design review as a condition of use permit approval.

C. Application Requirements. Any person proposing to construct, alter, enlarge, remodel, or otherwise change a new or existing structure subject to site design and architectural review in compliance with this chapter shall make application for project review prior to the application for a building permit in compliance with SMC 19.52.040 (Application preparation and filing). It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide evidence in support of the findings required by subsection (G) of this section (Findings, Decision).

D. Review Responsibility. Certain types of projects are subject to review by both the planning commission and the design review and historic preservation commission, while other types of projects are subject to review by only one commission. The responsibilities of the two commissions with regard to site design and architectural review are as follows:

1. Nondiscretionary Projects. Projects subject to site design and architectural review, as set forth in subsection (B) of this section, but which are not otherwise subject to discretionary review by the planning commission (e.g., use permit review), shall be reviewed by the design review and historic preservation commission only.

2. Discretionary Projects. For projects subject to discretionary review by the planning commission, the planning commission shall be responsible for reviewing and acting upon the project site plan, building massing and elevation concepts to the extent it deems necessary. Subsequent review by the design review and historic preservation commission shall be limited to elevation details, colors and materials, landscaping (including fences and walls), lighting, site details (such as the placement of bike racks and trash enclosures), and any issues specifically referred to the DRHPC by the planning commission.

3. Single-Family Development of Five or More Units. For new single-family development of five or more units, except in conjunction with a planned development permit, the planning commission shall be responsible for reviewing and approving design guidelines to ensure an appropriate variety of unit types and styles. Design guidelines may include building heights and mix of stories, setbacks, architectural concepts, elevation details, building materials, and landscaping. The topics and level of detail required for the review of a particular project shall be as deemed appropriate by the planning commission. Review by the design review and historic preservation commission shall not be required, except as referred to the design review and historic preservation commission by the planning commission.

E. Review Procedures. Each application for site design and architectural review shall be reviewed by the city planner to ensure that the application is consistent with the purpose and intent of this section and with applicable requirements of this development code. The review authority shall hold a public meeting, and may approve, approve with conditions, or disapprove the application for site design and architectural review in compliance with this section.

F. Factors to Be Considered. In the course of site design and architectural review, the consideration of the review authority shall include the following factors:

1. The historical significance, if any, of the site or buildings or other features on the site;

2. Environmental features on or adjacent to the site;

3. The context of uses and architecture established by adjacent development;

4. The location, design, site plan configuration, and effect of the proposed development.

These factors shall be considered in relation to the development standards and design guidelines of this development code, other applicable ordinances of the city, and applicable general plan policies.

G. Findings, Decision. The review authority may approve, approve subject to conditions, or disapprove an application for site design and architectural review. The review authority may approve an application, with or without conditions, only if it first makes the findings set forth below.

1. Basic Findings. In order to approve any application for site design and architectural review, the review authority must make the following findings:

a. The project complies with applicable policies and regulations, as set forth in this development code (except for approved variances and exceptions), other city ordinances, and the general plan;

b. On balance, the project is consistent with the intent of applicable design guidelines set forth in this development code; and

c. The project responds appropriately to the context of adjacent development, as well as existing site conditions and environmental features.

2. Projects within the Historic Overlay District or a Local Historic District. In addition to the basic findings set forth in subsection (G)(1) of this section, the review authority must make the following additional findings for any project located within the historic overlay district:

a. The project will not impair the historic character of its surroundings;

b. The project substantially preserves the qualities of any significant historic structures or other significant historic features on the site;

c. The project substantially complies with the applicable guidelines set forth in Chapter 19.42 SMC (Historic Preservation and Infill in the Historic Zone); and

d. The project substantially complies with any applicable preservation plan or other guidelines or requirements pertaining to a local historic district as designated through SMC 19.42.020.

These findings shall not apply to demolitions associated with a project which have been approved under SMC 19.54.090 (Demolition permit).

3. Projects Involving Historically Significant Resources. In addition to the basic findings set forth in subsection (G)(1) of this section, the review authority must make the following additional findings for any project on which site is located a resource that is listed or eligible for listing on the State Register of Historic Resources or that has been designated as a local historic resource pursuant to SMC 19.42.020:

a. The project substantially preserves the qualities of any significant historic structures or other significant historic features on the site.

b. The project substantially complies with the applicable guidelines set forth in Chapter 19.42 SMC (Historic Preservation and Infill in the Historic Zone).

c. The project substantially complies with the applicable Secretary of the Interior Standards and Guidelines for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

These findings shall not apply to demolitions associated with a project which have been approved under SMC 19.54.090 (Demolition permit).

H. Expiration. If a building permit has not been applied for and issued within one year of site design and architectural review approval, the approval shall become void, unless an extension is approved in compliance with Chapter 19.56 SMC (Permit Implementation, Time Limits, Extensions). (Ord. 06-2013 §§ 2(B) (Exh. C), 3, 2013; Ord. 07-2008 § 1, 2008; Ord. 07-2007 § 1 (Exh. A), 2007; Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003).

19.54.090 Demolition permit.

A. Purpose. Sonoma has a significant heritage of historic buildings, as exemplified by the designation of the Sonoma Plaza as a National Historic Landmark. These buildings provide a tangible link to the city’s past, foster civic pride and a sense of community, and constitute an important aesthetic, cultural, and economic resource. In order to preserve this heritage while respecting the rights of the property owners, this chapter establishes provisions for the review of demolitions, including a requirement for demolition permits.

B. Applicability. For any proposed demolition, a demolition permit shall be obtained prior to the issuance of a building permit, unless the demolition is exempted by subsection (C) of this section. Applications for a demolition permit shall be subject to the review and approval by the design review and historic preservation commission (DRHPC).

C. Exemptions. The following categories of demolition shall be exempt from DRHPC review:

1. Structures that are less than 50 years of age and that are not identified in the inventory of historic structures prepared by the League for Historic Preservation;

2. Detached accessory structures that are not identified in the inventory of historic structures prepared by the League for Historic Preservation;

3. Structures that the building official has determined present a clear and immediate threat to public safety.

D. Timing. When an application for demolition is associated with a development proposal that requires a discretionary permit from the planning commission, the review of the demolition application shall be completed prior to commencing review of any other application for a discretionary permit.

E. Application Requirements and Procedures. Any person seeking approval of a nonexempt demolition in compliance with this chapter shall make application for a demolition permit prior to an application for a building permit, in compliance with SMC 19.52.040, Application preparation and filing. It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide evidence in support of the findings required by subsection (G) of this section, Findings, Decision.

1. Commencement of Review. The review of an application for a demolition permit shall not be initiated until the planning division receives a complete application, including all required documentation as specified in the application form and any additional information required by the city planner in order to conduct a thorough review of the proposed demolition.

2. Notice and Hearing. The design review and historic preservation commission shall conduct a public hearing on an application for a demolition permit. Notice of the public hearing shall be provided, and the hearing shall be conducted in compliance with Chapter 19.88 SMC, Public Hearings, and may approve, approve with conditions, or disapprove the demolition permit in compliance with this section.

3. Factors to Be Considered. In the course of demolition permit review, the consideration of the design review and historic preservation commission shall include the following factors:

a. The relative historical significance, if any, of the structure proposed for demolition;

b. The contribution, if any, the structure makes to a historic context;

c. The cost of preserving or rehabilitating the structure;

d. The potential for adaptive re-use; and

e. The potential for relocating the structure.

4. Cooling-Off Period. Prior to taking final action on an application for a demolition permit, the design review and historic preservation commission may impose a cooling-off period of up to six months in order to allow an opportunity to investigate alternatives to demolition.

F. Determination of Significance. For purposes of requiring an application for a demolition permit, it shall be presumed that a structure possesses historic significance if said structure is identified in the inventory of historic structures prepared by the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation. However, in its review of an application for a demolition permit, the design review and historic preservation commission may determine that a listed structure is not historically significant if, based on evidence in the record, it finds that:

1. The listing in the inventory is based on erroneous information; or

2. The structure does not meet the criteria for historic significance as defined by the State Office of Historic Preservation.

G. Findings, Decision. Following the public hearing, the design review and historic preservation commission may approve or approve with conditions or disapprove a demolition permit application. In order to approve an application for a demolition permit, the design review and historic preservation commission must find that:

1. The structure is not historically significant, based upon the criteria established by the State Office of Historic Preservation; or

2. The structure does not represent a unique and irreplaceable historic or architectural resource;

3. The community benefit of preserving the structure is outweighed by the cost of preservation and rehabilitation;

4. The adaptive re-use of the structure is infeasible or inappropriate, due to economic considerations, structural conditions or land use incompatibility; and

5. The relocation of the structure is infeasible due to cost, structural conditions or lack of an interested taker.

H. Review of Replacement Structures. Notwithstanding the limitations on the architectural review set forth in SMC 19.54.080(B), the DRHPC may require, as a condition of approval for a demolition permit issued within the Historic Overlay zone, that any replacement structures, including single-family residences, be subject to architectural review in order to assure that the new construction is compatible with the historic context of the site.

I. Expiration. If a building permit has not been applied for and issued within one year of demolition permit approval, the approval shall become void, unless an extension is approved in compliance with Chapter 19.56 SMC, Permit Implementation, Time Limits, Extensions. (Ord. 06-2013 § 3, 2013; Ord. 07-2007 § 1 (Exh. A), 2007; Ord. 2003-02 § 3, 2003).

19.54.100 Request for reasonable accommodation.

A. Purpose. It is the city’s policy to provide individuals with disabilities reasonable accommodation in regulations and procedures to ensure equal access to housing, and to facilitate the development of housing. The purpose of this section is to provide a procedure under which a disabled person may request a reasonable accommodation in the application of zoning requirements. This chapter is based on requirements of the federal and state fair housing laws, and implements the housing element of the city’s general plan. It is distinct from the requirements for exceptions and variances as set forth in SMC 19.54.050 and 19.54.060, respectively. To make specific housing available to a disabled person as defined in SMC 19.92.020, any person may request reasonable accommodation under this section to modify a land use or zoning standard, regulation, policy, or procedure of the city as may be necessary to afford the disabled person equal opportunity for the use and enjoyment of their dwelling. A request for reasonable accommodation shall be made by filing an application under this section.

B. Applicability. A request for a reasonable accommodation consists of modifications or exceptions to the standards, regulations, policies, and procedures contained in this title for the siting, development, and use of housing or housing-related facilities, that would eliminate regulatory barriers and provide a disabled person equal opportunity for the use and enjoyment of housing of their choice, and that does not impose undue financial or administrative burdens on the city or require a fundamental or substantial alteration of the city’s planning and zoning programs.

C. Application. A request for reasonable accommodation shall be filed and processed in compliance with Chapter 19.52 SMC, Applications: Filing and Processing.

1. Notice to the Public of Availability of Accommodation Process. The city shall prominently display in City Hall a notice advising disabled persons or their representatives that they may request a reasonable accommodation in accordance with the procedures established in this section.

2. Application Form. An application for reasonable accommodation shall be submitted on a form prescribed by the planning director.

3. Privacy. Any information related to a disability status and identified by an applicant as confidential shall be retained in a manner so as to respect the privacy rights of the applicant and shall not be made available for public inspection.

4. Assistance. If an individual needs assistance in making the request for reasonable accommodation, the city will provide assistance to ensure that the process is accessible.

5. Timing. A request for reasonable accommodation may be filed at any time that the accommodation may be necessary to ensure equal access to housing. A reasonable accommodation does not affect an individual’s obligations to comply with other applicable regulations not at issue in the requested accommodation.

6. Filing Fees. There shall be no fee imposed in connection with a request for reasonable accommodation under the provisions of this section.

D. Review, Decision, and Referral.

1. Review by Planning Director. An application for reasonable accommodation shall be reviewed by the planning director, or his or her designee, as appropriate.

2. Decision. Within 30 days of acceptance of the application as complete, the planning director shall issue a written decision to grant, grant with modifications, or deny an application for reasonable accommodation in accordance with this section and shall notify the applicant of the decision. The written decision shall explain in detail the basis of the decision, including the planning director’s findings on the factors stated in subsection (F) of this section. If necessary to reach a determination on the request for reasonable accommodation, the planning director may request additional information from the applicant consistent with the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, specifying in detail the information that is required. If a request for additional information is made, the 30-day period to issue a decision is stayed until the applicant responds to the request.

3. Referral to Other Review Authority. The planning director shall have the authority, upon his or her sole discretion, to refer any reasonable accommodation application to any other reviewing authority, including, but not limited to, the planning commission and the design review and historic preservation commission, to review the reasonable accommodation application and make a determination on the same in accordance with the applicable sections of the development code.

E. Factors to be Considered. The decision to grant, grant with modifications, or deny an application for reasonable accommodation shall take into consideration all of the following factors:

1. Whether the housing or housing related facilities, which are the subject of the request, will be used by a disabled person.

2. Whether the request for reasonable accommodation is necessary to make specific housing available to a disabled person.

3. Whether the requested reasonable accommodation would impose an undue financial or administrative burden on the city.

4. Whether the requested reasonable accommodation would require a fundamental alteration in the nature of a city program or law, including but not limited to land use and zoning.

5. Whether the requested reasonable accommodation would be contrary to the public health, safety, or welfare, or be injurious to the property or improvements of adjacent properties.

6. Whether the requested reasonable accommodation adequately considers the physical attributes of the property and structures.

7. Whether alternative reasonable accommodations could provide an equivalent level of benefit.

8. Whether the property is in compliance with the then existing laws and regulations otherwise applicable to the property that is the subject of the request. If any noncompliance is through no fault of the applicant or unrelated to the request for reasonable accommodation, the planning director may waive this requirement. However, such a waiver shall not preclude the city from requiring that the existing violations be corrected in accordance with the city of Sonoma Municipal Code.

F. Findings, Decision. A request for reasonable accommodation may be approved, modified, conditioned, or disapproved by the review authority (planning director or the commission to which the request was referred, as applicable). The review authority may approve or conditionally approve a request for reasonable accommodation only if all the following findings are made:

1. The housing will be used by a disabled person or persons;

2. The requested accommodation is necessary to make specific housing available to a disabled person;

3. The requested accommodation would not impose an undue financial or administrative burden on the city;

4. The requested accommodation would not require a fundamental alteration in the nature of a city program or law, including land use and zoning.

G. Conditions of Approval. In granting a request for reasonable accommodation, the review authority may impose any conditions of approval deemed reasonable and necessary to ensure that the reasonable accommodation will comply with the findings required by this section. Conditions may be imposed to ensure that any removable structures or physical design features that are constructed or installed in association with the reasonable accommodation be removed once those structures or physical design features are unnecessary to afford a disabled person for whom the reasonable accommodation was granted the use and enjoyment of the dwelling.

H. Restrictive Covenant. When applicable, the city shall enter into a restrictive covenant with the owner of the property which provides that prior to any sale, transfer, lease or other conveyance of the property, or at the time the need for the reasonable accommodation is no longer necessary, that the owner of the property shall bring the property into conformance with the city’s zoning code to the extent that relief was provided under the zoning code as part of the request for reasonable accommodation. The restrictive covenant shall be recorded against the property being granted the reasonable accommodation. The restrictive covenant shall provide that the reasonable accommodation does not run with the land and shall terminate upon any sale, transfer, lease or other conveyance of the property. Upon submittal of a new application for a successor-in-interest to the property, the planning director may consider a continuation of the reasonable accommodation if it is consistent with and does not extend the original approval.

I. Expiration. A request for reasonable accommodation shall be exercised within one year from the date of approval or the permit shall become void, unless an extension is approved in compliance with Chapter 19.56 SMC, Permit Implementation, Time Limits, Extensions. (Ord. 07-2014 § 2, 2014).