City of Santa Rosa Density Bonus Ordinance Update
Santa Rosa’s Density Bonus Ordinance, Chapter 20-31 of the Santa Rosa City Code, is intended to provide incentives to produce affordable housing, senior housing and the development of child care facilities. The intent of the ordinance is to implement the goals, objectives, and policies of Santa Rosa General Plan 2035 and further to implement and be subject to California Government Code Section 65915.
The City’s current ordinance allows for consideration of a density bonus of up to 35%, in compliance with State law.
The City is aware that current State law allows local jurisdictions to approve density bonuses higher than 35%. However, such an increase is not a requirement, nor is it allowed by the City Code. There are also several recently adopted State laws related to density bonus, including AB 1442, AB 2556, AB 2501 and AB 1934, which are summarized below. None of this State legislation mandates the City to grant a density bonus higher than 35%.
The Santa Rosa Density Bonus Ordinance is silent with regard to the ability to increase density bonus beyond the stated 35% maximum. As such, without City Council approval of an ordinance amendment, the maximum allowed density bonus by the City at this time is 35%.
In October 2016, the City Council accepted the Housing Action Plan, which includes a variety of programs aimed at addressing the City’s ongoing unmet housing needs. One of the initiatives is to explore an ordinance amendment to allow a density bonus in excess of 35%.
In May 2017, the City entered into a contract with Metropolitan Planning Group (M-Group) to assist with the Density Bonus Ordinance Update project. Outreach for the project is expected in late summer 2017, with stakeholder meetings planned to gain an understanding of community, resident and applicant sentiment. Consideration of the proposed ordinance amendment by the Planning Commission is planned in November 2017, with action by the City Council in late December 2017 or January 2018.
Policy White Paper: City of Santa Rosa Density Bonus Ordinance Update - recommendations for a supplemental density bonus program
State Law Changes
Since the City’s Density Bonus Ordinance was last updated in 2012, there have been various changes to State law pertaining to Density Bonuses, which are summarized below:
AB 2442 – Expanded the categories of housing that qualify for a density bonus to include replacement of income-restricted housing, housing subject to rent control, and housing occupied by very-low and low-income households.
AB 2556 – Clarified implementation of required replacement of affordable units in density bonus projects.
AB 2501 – Requires local governments to “round up” all density calculations. Santa Rosa’s ordinance already requires that density bonus calculations resulting in fractional units be rounded up. This law also requires permit streamlining for density bonus projects, with specific limitations on requirements during development review process.
AB 1934 (sunsets January 1, 2022) – Provides density bonuses for commercial developers who partner with affordable housing developers to develop affordable housing units in conjunction with their commercial project.
AB 744 - Upon a request from a developer, it requires local jurisdictions to approve alternative parking ratios for eligible projects. It does not require a local jurisdiction to provide a density bonus above 35%.