The City Council voted last month to approve a series of ordinances meant to implement the city’s approved Housing Element and bring San Clemente’s municipal code up to compliance with state law.
The six ordinances were passed under the council’s consent calendar—routine items that can be approved in one vote. The council’s vote updated the city’s municipal code on density bonus law, overlay districts, accessory dwelling units, low barrier navigation centers, permanent supportive housing and residential care facilities.
San Clemente’s Housing Element—blueprints used to show that the city can accommodate projected housing demands—was approved by the state’s Housing and Community Development (HCD) Department in mid-October.
Under the certified Housing Element, the city was required to update its local laws.
Density Bonus Law
The adopted Housing Element listed the need to update the city’s Density Bonus Ordinance by the end of 2022 to reflect State Assembly Bill 1763.
The Dec. 20 council vote updates San Clemente’s Density Bonus Ordinance requiring the city to “grant a density bonus, concessions, incentives and waivers of development standards for projects that commit certain percentages of their units to affordable housing,” according to the city’s staff report.
The municipal code will also be updated to reference the state’s Density Bonus Law, ensuring that the municipal code remains current if the State Legislature decides to amend the law in the future.
Fulfilling a condition in San Clemente’s approved Housing Element, City Council also updated the municipal code to reflect state law on parking requirements for emergency shelters.
California Assembly Bill 139 allows cities to require that emergency shelters provide sufficient on-site parking for all staff, as long as that requirement does not exceed existing parking requirements for residential or commercial uses in the same zone.
The council’s vote amends the city’s Emergency Shelter Standards to require that any proposed emergency shelter provides enough on-site parking for staff members.
ADU and JADU
The City Council also updated the city’s regulations on accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior accessory dwelling units, (JADUs). The city last updated its ordinance on ADUs and JADUs in early 2021.
Since then, California Assembly Bill 2221 and Senate Bill 897 have been signed into law, which “impose further restrictions on local authority to regulate ADUs and JADUs, including with respect to height limits, setbacks, application review and denial procedures, unpermitted structures and JADU configurations,” according to the staff report.
When denying an ADU or JADU permit, AB 2221 requires cities to provide a description of how the applicant can remedy their application for approval.
SB 897 prohibits cities from denying a permit application for an ADU or JADU because of “nonconforming zoning conditions, building code violations, or unpermitted structures that do not present a threat to public health and safety and are not affected by the construction of the accessory dwelling unit,” according to the law’s text.
The law also increases the maximum height limitation that a city can impose to 18 feet if the ADU is within a half-mile walking distance of a major transit stop.
Low Barrier Navigation Centers
The council further updated the municipal code to comply with California Assembly Bill 101, which requires cities to permit low barrier navigation centers in mixed-use and non-residential zones where multifamily uses are allowed.
AB 101 requires that the city permit low barrier navigation centers in these zones by right, meaning that the development would be subject to administrative review if it complies with city standards and requirements.
San Clemente’s adopted Housing Element includes “a program to amend the Zoning Ordinance to allow Low Barrier Navigation Centers by right in mixed-use and non-residential zones permitting multifamily uses,” according to the Housing Element.
Permanent Supportive Housing
State law also requires that cities approve supportive housing by right in mixed-use or multifamily zones, if the development meets size, affordability and on-site supportive services requirements.
Supportive housing offers on- or off-site services that assist homeless individuals in improving their health and ability to live and work in the community.
San Clemente’s municipal code amendment revises the definition of supportive housing and transitional housing to meet California Government Code’s definition.
Residential Care Facilities
Lastly, the council updated local laws governing residential care facilities to streamline the approval process for facilities caring for six people or fewer. Though a residential care facility caring for six or fewer people is considered a “permitted use,” a license to operate is still required.
According to the San Clemente’s Housing Element, the city does regulate boarding houses with seven or more occupants with leases of 29 days or less, requiring a conditional use permit to operate.