SB 35 Design Standards for Multifamily Housing

Annadel Housing DevelopmentPhoto courtesy of Annadel Apartments


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. SB35 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 SB35 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.

Project Description

The purpose of the SB35 Design Standards initiative is to prepare and adopt clear and objective multifamily residential design standards that respond to SB35 and are sourced from the City’s Design Guidelines. New multifamily residential development is currently required to go through the City’s discretionary Design Review process, which includes review for compliance with the City’s Design Guidelines. The Design Guidelines are subjective in nature to demonstrate preferences while allowing discretion and flexibility, and as such, cannot be enforced through the SB35 streamlined ministerial process. The proposed SB35 Multifamily Residential Design Standards aim to incorporate the intent of the Santa Rosa Design Guidelines, and other best design practices, to the greatest extent possible, while complying with the intent of SB35 to facilitate and expedite the construction of housing in Santa Rosa.

The first step in this process is to release a survey to the community to provide context and receive input regarding the proposed standards. Any trends in feedback from the community will be presented to the Design Review Board and Cultural Heritage Board who will provide their comments at the June 20 public meeting. Direction from the Design Review Board and Cultural Heritage Board will be incorporated into the proposed standards prior to a public hearing with the Planning Commission. The final step includes a public hearing before the City Council where the objective design standards would be adopted.

What Do You Think?

What do you think about multifamily residential buildings in your neighborhood? Take our survey to let the City know what elements in the design process are most important to you!

Upcoming Meetings

  • June 20, 2019:  Joint Design Review Board / Cultural Heritage Board Meeting
  • August 8, 2019: Planning Commission Public Hearing
  • September 10, 2019: City Council Public Hearing

NOTE: Dates are tentative


  1. Amy Nicholson

    City Planner
    Phone: 707-543-3258