Resilient City Development Measures

Beginning on the evening of October 8, 2017, and continuing for days thereafter, a series of wildfire events damaged or destroyed thousands of residential and commercial structures within the City of Santa Rosa.  On October 9, 2017, the City Manager, in his capacity as Director of Emergency Services, proclaimed the existence of local emergency in the City, which was ratified by the City Council on October 13, 2017. 

Prior to the wildfires, the Council had identified “housing for all” as a priority due to the City’s ongoing, unmet housing needs.  

As a result of both the devastating wildfires, and the previously existing housing shortage, the Council has stated the need for immediate measures to address both housing and building of uses such as lodging and child care facilities Citywide.  

On April 10, 2018, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. ORD-2018-006, adding Chapter 20-16, Resilient City Development Measures, to the Zoning Code to facilitate these priorities.  The ordinance will take effect on the 31st day following its adoption (May 11, 2018).

Chapter 20-16, Resilient City Development Measures 

The measures, which would apply to properties Citywide, were developed based on input received from the community and the City Council since the October 2017 fires.  

Chapter 20-16 will be in place for a period of 3 years from the effective date of the ordinance, or May 11, 2021, unless otherwise amended by subsequent action of the Council.

Continued Items

The Resilient City Development Measures adopted on April 10, 2018 included the following sections:

  • Temporary Housing
  • Temporary Structures
  • Accessory Dwelling Units 

As part of the Council's action, the following sections were continued to the April 24, 2018 City Council meeting for further consideration:

  • Reduced Review Authority for Certain Uses
  • Modifications to the Design Review Process
  • Changes to an Approved Residential, Lodging or Child Care Facility Project

Public Meeting

The three items identified above that the Council continued will be considered at the following public meeting:

  • City Council - April 24, 2018, at or after 5 p.m., in the City Council Chambers

At the meeting, the Council will consider the Proposed Resilient City Development Measures Ordinance Amendment

Summary of Proposed Changes to Chapter 20-16

Reduced Review Authority for Certain Uses

As a way to help incentivize various forms of housing and other types of uses that have been identified as a need following the Fires, the proposal includes a section for reduced review authority for specific land uses.  The proposal would change the permitting requirements from either a Minor Use Permit to permitted by right (no use permit required), or from Conditional Use Permit to Minor Use Permit.  

Minor Use Permits are reviewed by the Zoning Administrator and can take 3 to 4 months to process. Conditional Use Permits are reviewed by the Planning Commission and can take 6 to 9 months to process.  Uses that are permitted by right are required to obtain a Zoning Clearance, which is administered by City staff and generally done “over the counter”.  

Below is a table that outlines the various components in the decision-making process for Director level decisions (Zoning Clearance), Zoning Administrator, and Design Review Board/Planning Commission decisions. The chart identifies the public process for each review authority.


By reducing the permit requirements, and thereby the review authority, the following land uses could be processed and established in a much more efficient and time sensitive way.  

Please note, the proposed uses listed below are currently allowed in each of the zoning districts identified. The proposed change would reduce the review authority for approval of the use, it would not allow new uses in zoning districts in which they are not currently allowed.

  1. Agricultural Employee Housing
  2. Child Day Care – large family day care home
  3. Child Day Care Center (15 or more clients)
  4. Community Care Facility
  5. Duplexes
  6. Emergency Shelters
  7. Mobile Home Park
  8. Mobile Home/Manufactured Housing
  9. Multi-Family Dwelling
  10. Residential Component of a Mixed-Use Project
  11. Single-Family Dwelling
  12. Single-Family Dwelling – Attached 
  13. Single Room Occupancy Facility
  14. Small Lot Residential Project

Modifications to the Design Review Process

Design Review for Child Care, Lodging and Residential Development

The proposed Resilient City Development Measures include modifications to the Design Review process for new development and major remodels of the following uses:

  • Child daycare
  • Lodging – bed & breakfast inn, hotel or motel
  • Mixed-use development (that includes a residential component)
  • Multi-family residential
  • Single-room occupancy facility

The proposal would reduce the permit requirement from Major Design Review, which requires approval by the Design Review Board, to Minor Design Review, which would be acted on by the Zoning Administrator, only if the project meets the following criteria:  

  1. The project proposes on-site affordable housing pursuant to City Code Chapter 21-02 (Housing Allocation Plan), and is restricted by a recorded regulatory agreement; or
  2. The project is located within one of the City's Priority Development Areas (illustrated below).


Any projects requesting Minor Design Review based on the above criteria would be required to do a pre-application neighborhood meeting.

For any project that involves 10,000 square-feet or more in total floor area, or is within a visually sensitive location, which is defined by the Zoning Code as sites within the Downtown Commercial Zoning District, or within the Gateway, Historic or Scenic Road Combining Zoning District, conceptual review by the Design Review Board would be required.  Such a review would ensure that the Design Review Board would have an opportunity to provide comments on projects prior to the Zoning Administrator taking action.

Final Design Review

The proposal would also delegate Final Design Review for all projects requiring review by the Design Review Board to staff, following Preliminary Design Review approval by the Board.  

Typically, any changes that are necessary to a project between Preliminary approval and Final Design Review are limited, and the Board provides a detailed list of what needs to be completed by the applicant, which City staff is able to follow.  The reason for the delegation to staff is to reduce the time it normally takes for a project to return to the Board, thereby allowing projects to proceed in a more expeditious manner.

Changes to an Approved Residential, Lodging or Child Care Facility Project

The Zoning Code currently requires that any change to an approved project be acted on by the Zoning Administrator, unless anyone of the following findings cannot be made:  

  1. The change is consistent with the Zoning Code;
  2. The change does not involve a feature of the project that was the basis for a finding in an environmental document; 
  3. The change does not involve a feature of the project that was the basis for a condition of approval; and 
  4. The change does not result in an expansion of the project.  

If any one of the above findings cannot be made, then the change is required to be reviewed and approved by the original review authority for the project.

The proposal would reduce the review authority for changes to approved residential, lodging and child care facilities from the Zoning Administrator to the Director of Planning and Economic Development, if the project meets the above noted standards. 

Notification to surrounding property owners would be required prior to approval by the Director.

As with the current requirement, any project that does not meet the standards would still require action by the original review authority.


Additional Ordinance Language

  • The proposal also includes language that any Zoning Administrator meetings (which are public meetings), for projects submitted pursuant to this Chapter, would be held, as needed, at or after 5:00 p.m. at City Hall.  This would provide a better opportunity for the public to attend the meetings.
  1. Jessica Jones

    Supervising Planner
    Phone: 707-543-3410