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. 

A draft Zoning Code Chapter 20-16, Resilient City Development Measures, has been prepared to facilitate these priorities.

Draft Chapter 20-16, Resilient City Development Measures

The draft 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.  

As proposed, Chapter 20-16 would be in place for a period of 3 years from the effective date of the ordinance, unless otherwise amended by subsequent action of the Council.

Upcoming Meetings

The proposed Resilient City Development Measures Ordinance will be considered at the following public meetings:

  • Design Review Board - February 1, 2018, at or after 2:30 p.m. (report item for Design Review sections only)
  • Planning Commission - February 8, 2018, at or after 4 p.m. (public hearing notice)
  • City Council - to be determined

Chapter 20-16 Summary

Temporary Housing

The purpose of the Temporary Housing section is to allow for habitation of temporary structures, such as, but not limited to, trailers, recreational vehicles, manufactured homes, tiny homes, and other similar structures.  As drafted, temporary housing would be allowed on any residential or non-residential parcel within the City, with the approval of a Temporary Use Permit.  

The proposed Zoning Code Section 20-16.030, Temporary Housing, provides direction to applicants on what information is needed with the application filing, including specifics regarding operations for multi-family temporary housing.  Development standards are also provided, including the number of units allowed on a site, length of stay, lighting and site power requirements, on-site management, sanitation facilities, parking,and water and wastewater services.  

This section also includes information on site cleanup following the termination of the use, and notification to surrounding property owners prior to approval of such a use.

Temporary Structures

Due to the immediate need in the community as a result of the Fires, the proposed Resilient City Development Measures would allow the location of temporary structures, for classrooms, offices or other similar uses, on any residential or non-residential parcel, with the approval of a Temporary Use Permit, for a period of 3 years.  

Similar to the temporary housing section above, there is a requirement for notification to surrounding property owners prior to approval of a use.

Accessory Dwelling Units

The Zoning Code requires that residential accessory dwelling units (ADUs) be constructed either on a site with an existing main residential unit, or, if it is constructed at the same time, the main unit must be completed prior to the completion of the ADU.  

Due to the sever housing shortage that existed prior to the Fires, which was exacerbated with the Fires, the proposal would allow ADUs to be constructed first, prior to the construction of a single-family residence on the same property.  The idea is that allowing ADUs to be constructed prior to the completion of a main residence would encourage more people to construct them, and could result in the development of more of these types of units.

The proposal also includes clarifying language regarding applications for the legalization of existing ADUs that were constructed without the benefit of permits.  Specifically, that such structures would be subject to the same fees required for the construction of a new ADU.

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 proposed Resilient City Development Measures include 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 8 to 12 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”.  

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 (see Draft Chapter 20-16 for the specific proposed permitting requirements).  

  1. Agricultural Employee Housing – 7 or more residents
  2. Child Day Care – large family day care home
  3. Child Day Care Center (15 or more clients)
  4. Community Care Facility – 6 or fewer clients
  5. Community Care Facility – 7 or more clients
  6. Duplexes 
  7. Emergency Shelter
  8. Mobile Home Park
  9. Mobile Home/Manufactured Housing
  10. Multi-Family Dwelling
  11. Residential Component of a Mixed-Use Project
  12. Single-Family Dwelling
  13. Single-Family Dwelling – Attached 
  14. Single Room Occupancy Facility
  15. 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 (B&B)
  • Lodging– 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, regardless of the size or location of the project.  Such a change would reduce the processing time for these projects from 8 to 12 months, down to 3 to 4 months.

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 add approximately one month to the process time, and would ensure that the Design Review Board would have an opportunity to provide comments on such 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 proposed Resilient City Development Measures 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.



  1. Jessica Jones

    Supervising Planner
    Phone: 707-543-3410