Citywide Zoning Reforms Approved for Sacramento

The Sacramento City Council took steps toward an updated General Plan that includes a variety of innovative planning proposals, including the elimination of single-family zoning by allowing up to four dwelling units on all residential parcels.

January 20, 2021, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


belyay / Shutterstock

"The Sacramento City Council took a step Tuesday toward becoming one of the first cities in the country to eliminate traditional single-family zoning," reports Theresa Clift.

The City Council voted unanimously to allow all residential parcels to contain up to four dwelling units to help the city alleviate its housing affordability crisis, explains Clift, and increase access for more of the city's residents to neighborhoods with high-performing schools, pristine parks and other amenities. The changes are included in the city's 2040 General Plan.

According to Clift's portrayal of the council hearing, public comment was mostly in support of the historic change, though some neighborhood associations in the city opposed the change previous to the vote.

"City leaders said the neighborhoods would look essentially the same as they do now, because buildings would still have their current height restrictions. There would also be historical protections, limits on how much of a lot size a house could take up and on the amount of square footage," deports Clift for more details on the substance of Tuesday's vote.

According to a tweet by Louis Mirante, who discloses YIMBY affiliations, the City Council also voted to eliminate parking minimums and study parking maximums, in another historically significant reform of the planning status quo.

The city of Sacramento follows Minneapolis; Portland, Oregon; and the state of Oregon at the forefront of the emerging trend in planning to address equity and housing affordability by loosening land use regulations that excluded multi-family housing and commercial and retail uses from the vast majority of the land in U.S. cities. Of those jurisdictions, the state of Oregon recently finalized the zoning changes mandated in 2019 by House Bill 2001, and Minneapolis is in the process of codifying the recommendations of the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

According to Dov Kadin, a planner with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), the city must still undertake the process of codifying these changes in the city's zoning code.

"To be clear, this action only allows staff to proceed with a series of key strategies and a draft land use/transportation map. The final votes on the whole General Plan Update will be later this year, but this was a big hurdle that will start the environmental review," says Kadin on Twitter.

Kadin adds that the 2040 General Plan includes proposals for "road diets across the city to prioritize transit/bike/ped over automobiles and support low carbon transportation options/safety."

Tuesday, January 19, 2021 in Sacramento Bee

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