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MINISTERIAL APPROVAL of infill housing (STATE OF CALIFORNIA/SB 35 AND CITY OF SACRAMENTO PERMITS)

  • Applications and fee worksheet (see Staff Level) can be found on this webpage:
    • State of California Ministerial Approval of Infill Housing Development Projects Application Planning-Approval Only (commonly referred to as SB 35) (CDD-0427)
    • City of Sacramento Ministerial Approval of Infill Housing Development Projects Application Planning-Approval Only (CDD-0428)
  • City of Sacramento Planning and Development Code Chapter 17.860 regulating the permits and process

Applicants of infill housing projects will effectively have three options for housing development projects:

  • City of Sacramento discretionary review process (Planning Entitlement Application, CDD-0063)
  • State of California (SB 35) ministerial review process (State Requirement, CDD-0427)
  • City of Sacramento ministerial review process (City of Sacramento Permit, CDD-0428)

Comparison chart between the State of California and City of Sacramento permits

State of California Ministerial Approval of Infill Housing (Gov’t Code 65913.4) (State Requirement) CDD-0427

City’s Ministerial Approval of Infill Housing (City Code Section 17.860) (City of Sacramento Permit) CDD-0428

Bolded items highlight how the City of Sacramento Ministerial Approval of Infill Housing process differs from State of California requirements.

Status

  • Effective Dates:
    • January 1, 2018 – January 1, 2026

 

 

  • Effective Date:
    • August 27, 2020

 

Planning Review and Streamlining Provisions

  • Eligible projects that are consistent with the General Plan and meet objective zoning and adopted design review standards are subject to Ministerial review

     

  • Projects eligible for Ministerial approval are not subject to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review

     

  • Maximum density determined by the General Plan if it is greater than the maximum density for the Zone

     

  • No required parking within ½ mile of transit (includes frequent bus routes) or within an architecturally and historically significant district, and overall cannot exceed one space per unit
  • Eligible projects that are consistent with the General Plan and meet objective zoning and Citywide Design Guidelines Design Principles are subject to Ministerial review

     

  • Projects eligible for Ministerial approval are not subject to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review

     

  • No changes to maximum density. Maximum density determined by the City’s Planning and Development Code.

 

  • No changes to parking requirements. Projects are eligible for the City’s existing reduced parking requirements near transit stations including:
    • ¼ mile of a light rail station: no minimum required off-street vehicle parking
    • ½ mile of a light rail station: required off-street vehicle parking reduced by 50% on top of other existing reductions in the code

 

Eligible Projects

  • Type:
    • Residential or mixed-use (residential must be at least 2/3 of building square footage)

       

  • Number of Housing Units:
    • 2+ Units

       

  • Affordability Requirements:
    • 2-10 Units: None
    • 11+ Units: 10% of units affordable to lower-income households

       

  • Prevailing Wage and Labor Requirements:
    • Required for 11+ Units

       

  • Infill Requirements (SB 35 Definition):
    • At least 75 percent of the linear measurement of the perimeter of the site adjoins parcels (including those only separated by a street).

 

  • Type:
    • Residential or mixed-use (residential must be at least 2/3 of building square footage)

       

  • Number of Housing Units:
    • 2-200 Units

       

  • Affordability Requirements:
    • No specific requirement

       

       

       

  • Prevailing Wage and Labor Requirements:
    • No specific requirement

       

  • Infill Requirements (City Code Definition):
    • A site that has been previously developed, or development on a vacant site, where at least 75% of the perimeter of the site adjoins, or is separated only by an improved public right-of-way from, parcels that are developed with existing uses.

 

 

 

 

Ineligible Projects

  • Historic Considerations:
    • Project cannot demolish a historic structure

       

       

       

       

       

       

  • Demolition Considerations:
    • Project cannot demolish units:
      • Occupied by tenants within last 10 years
      • Subject to an affordable housing regulatory agreement
      • Subject to any form of local rent or price control

         

         

  • Environmental Considerations:
    • Project cannot be on a site:
      • With prime farmland
      • Designated as a hazardous waste site
      • With a mobile home park
      • With conservation areas/easement or protected species
      • With wetlands
      • With a floodplain or floodway

         

         

         

  • Planning Considerations:
    • Projects cannot include:
      • A variance, deviation, or conditional use permit (CUP)
  • Historic Considerations:
    • Project cannot be in a historic district or be a historic or cultural resource
    • Project cannot be on a site known to contain archaeological or paleontological resources, or human remains

       

  • Demolition Considerations:
    • The project cannot reduce the total number of dwelling units on the site
    • Project cannot demolish units:
      • Occupied by tenants in a multi-unit dwelling (3+ units) within the last year
      • Subject to an affordable housing regulatory agreement

         

  • Environmental Considerations:
    • Project cannot be on a site:
      • With prime farmland
      • Designated as a hazardous waste site
      • With a mobile home park
      • With conservation areas/easement or protected species
      • With wetlands
      • With floodplain or floodway
      • Within 1,000 feet of an existing or former landfill

         

  • Planning Considerations:
    • Projects cannot include:
      • A variance, deviation, conditional use permit (CUP), legislative change request, or any other discretionary entitlement or request under Title 17 of the Sacramento City Code
      • A site in a planned unit development (PUD)

 

Project Review Timelines

  • From date of submittal, provide written notice of any objective development standards not satisfied:
    • ≤ 150 Units: 60 days
    • > 150 Units: 90 days

 

  • From date of submittal, provide written notice of any objective development standards not satisfied:
    • ≤ 150 Units: 60 days
    • > 150 Units: 90 days

 

Background:

In 2017, the State of California passed Senate Bill 35 . SB 35 requires that the City of Sacramento provide a non-discretionary ministerial review permit process for housing development and mixed-use projects with two or more housing units. Projects must be approved if they meet existing objective standards relating to the General Plan, Planning and Development Code , and design review.

In 2019, the State of California passed Senate Bill 330. SB 330 prohibits the City of Sacramento from denying a project if that project meets objective standards. SB 330 does allow the use of subjective design review guidelines to shape a project if the subjective design guidelines are not used to deny a project. SB 330 also stipulates that jurisdictions cannot impose or enforce design standards adopted after January 1, 2020 that are not objective. 

On May 28, 2019, City Council adopted a Resolution (2019-0206) directing staff to implement the Housing Streamlining Menu of Options.  The Housing Streamlining Menu of Options is a list of over 50 potential actions the City’s Planning Division, other City departments, and partner agencies can initiate to streamline approval and production of housing. The administrative approval of housing projects was identified as one of these potential actions. Administrative review is a non-discretionary process and therefore is not subject to public hearings or the California Environmental Quality Act . If a project is consistent with adopted policies and standards, it is approved.

On July 28, 2020, the City Council adopted the Ministerial Approval of Infill Housing Ordinance Number 2020-0031 and Resolution Number 2020-0242 in response to SB 35 and SB 330. The ordinance and resolution adopted the Citywide Infill Housing Design Standards, effective as of August 27, 2020, which are based on the objective standards in the existing Citywide Multi-Unit Dwelling Design Guidelines.

There are several anticipated benefits to enacting a ministerial approval process for housing projects, including:

  • Reducing the turnaround time significantly by expediting the planning approval process to less than 90 days for most multi-unit housing projects; and
  • Reducing development risk by providing more certainty and clarity on the planning approval process to housing developers: thereby
  • Constructing housing faster, by approving housing projects more quickly than a discretionary review process due to the expedited and certain ministerial review process which eliminates the costs and time for environmental review which can be up to several hundred thousand dollars and decreasing carrying costs (i.e. mortgage payments on the land, preconstruction loans). 

Resources:

Ryan Dodge, Associate Planner

RDodge@cityofsacramento.org

916-808-8044