Objective Design Standards for Streamlined and Ministerial Residential Developments
Photo courtesy of Annadel Apartments
Recent California legislation has been adopted to address the housing shortage within the State, requiring a streamlined and ministerial process for specific residential developments. A streamlined and ministerial review, per State legislation, requires projects to be reviewed against existing objective standards rather than through a City’s traditional discretionary entitlement process, in specified timeframes.
Two California bills, Senate Bill 35 and Assembly Bill 2162, were the impetus for the City’s recently adopted objective design standards (linked below under Resources). It is anticipated that in coming years additional legislation will be enacted requiring additional ministerial processes. Therefore, while the two aforementioned bills listed below provide recent examples, the adopted ordinance was written to also address future legislation that may require ministerial processes.
California State Senate Bill 35 (SB35 – Government Code Section 65913.4), which went into effect on January 1, 2018, was part of a comprehensive package aimed at addressing the State’s housing shortage and high costs. SB 35 requires the availability of a streamlined ministerial approval process for developments located in jurisdictions that have not yet made sufficient progress towards their required allocation of the regional housing need. The City of Santa Rosa is subject to SB35, meaning an eligible project within the City must be streamlined and not subject to discretionary review (i.e.: Conditional Use Permit and/or Design Review).
For a project to be eligible for the streamlined SB 35 process they are required to meet specific criteria, including but not limited to, the following:
- Provide a specified level of affordability;
- Be located on an infill site;
- Comply with residential and mixed-use General Plan or Zoning provisions; and
- Comply with other requirements such as locational and/or demolition restrictions.
California Assembly Bill 2162 (AB2162 – Government Code Sections 65583), which went into effect on January 1, 2019, was adopted to address shortages in Supportive and Emergency Housing. AB2162 requires that specified Supportive Housing developments undergo a streamlined and ministerial review and are not subject to discretionary review (e.g.: Conditional Use Permit, Design Review and/or Landmark Alteration Permit).
For a project to be eligible for the streamlined and ministerial AB2162 process it is required to meet specific criteria, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Units within the development are subject to a recorded affordability restriction for
- 55 years;
- One hundred percent of the units within the development, excluding managers’ units, are dedicated to lower-income households and are receiving public funding to ensure affordability of the housing to lower-income Californians;
- A specified number of units are designated as supportive housing;
- Nonresidential floor areas are used for onsite supportive services in specified amounts;
- Units within the development, excluding managers’ units, include at least one bathroom and a kitchen or other cooking facilities.
Objective Design Standards Adopted
On November 19, 2019, the Council adopted Objective Design Standards applicable to projects which qualify and request streamlined and ministerial processing, pursuant to Senate Bill 35 and Assembly Bill 2162. The Objective Design Standards Ordinance can be accessed here.