The City of Santa Cruz has declared a climate action emergency and City leaders say urgent action must be taken to combat catastrophic climate change, and are looking into the adoption of Reach Codes, codes that extend beyond standard building codes, in order to reduce green house gas emissions and address public health and safety concerns.
As part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses, the City Green Building program and City Climate Action Program are seeking community input regarding adopting reach codes which would spell out how the City aims to reduce green house gas emissions from homes and buildings through electrification.
Individuals and entities that may be interested or impacted by such reach codes include developers, realtors, and homeowners. Please see the Workshops section to participate in the exploration and possible adoption of reach code.
If you were unable to attend a workshop, please visit the Resources section for past meeting information.
Join the City of Santa Cruz in the exploration and possible adoption of reach codes.
Community Workshop 1: Building Electrification 101
>>Feb. 4 | City Council Chambers | 6 – 7:30 pm
City Council Study Session
>>Feb. 18 | City Council Chambers | 1 – 3:30 pm
>>Feb. 26 | Civic Auditorium Tony Hill A, B C Room| 3:30 – 5 pm
Community Workshop 2: Bldg Electrification Policy Options
>>Feb. 27 | Downtown Main Library Community Room | 6 – 7:30 pm
Electrification Coffee Talk with Trades, Vendors, Designers and Builders
>>Tuesdays from Feb. 11 – March 10 | 11th Hour Coffee | 8:30-9:30 am
>>March 5 | City Council Chambers | 7 pm
CITY COUNCIL – FIRST ORDINANCE HEARING
>>March 24 | | TBD time
CITY COUNCIL – SECOND ORDINANCE HEARING
>>April 7 | City Council Chambers | TBD time
BUILDING ELECTRIFICATION EXPO AT EARTH DAY
>>April 18 | San Lorenzo Park | 11 am – 4 pm
CALIFORNIA ENERGY COMMISSION APPROVAL OF REACH CODES
>>April – June, 2020
IMPLEMENTATION = ???
Past Meeting Information
- Community Workshop I: Building Electrification Slide Deck - February 4, 2020
- City Council Study Session: Building Electrification Presentation - February 18, 2020
- Community Workshop II: Building Electrification Policy - February 27, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions, and Informational Handouts
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), Building Electrification - City of Santa Cruz
- Berkeley's Home Electrification Fact Sheet: Electric Induction Cook Tops
- Berkeley's Home Electrification Fact Sheet: Electric Heat Pump Water Heaters
- 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards and Building Electrification
- Santa Cruz Building Electrification Options - GHG Savings Estimates (Not Yet Available - In Development)
- City Explores Reach Code
- Evaluate Reach Code Options
- Engage Stakeholders
- Develop Reach Code Ordinance Based on Gathered Research and Stakeholder Input
- Approve Reach Code through Local Commissions/Council
- Submit Documentation (including Cost Effectiveness studies) to California Energy Commission
Last Updated: December 13, 2019
On Tuesday, December 10, the Santa Cruz City Council passed an Urgency Ordinance to amend the City’s zoning regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which means that the new zoning standards are now in effect.
Work on further ordinance amendments will begin in spring of 2020 and will involve community outreach to discuss options and receive public input. As part of the outreach on new policy items, planning staff will also inform the community about the most recent amendments, which are summarized here. Most of these changes are necessary to bring the City’s regulations into compliance with the State Law; the amendment regarding the green building program is a local policy amendment:
Development Standard Amendment
- The allowed size of new construction ADUs is now 50% of the size of the home (for attached ADUs) 10% of the lot size (for detached ADUs) or 800 square feet (sf), whichever is largest.
- Conversion ADUs may be up to 1200sf regardless of the size of the parcel or home (consistent with prior practice).
- Conversion ADUs may be expanded by up to 150sf (previous limit was 120sf), not to exceed 1200sf total, except as may be necessary to accommodate ingress and egress to the ADU.
- Conversion ADUs can be created from a legal structure built at any time.
- Height limit for single-story ADU is now 16’ (increase from 15’), side and rear setbacks will continue to be 3’.
- Height limit for two-story ADUs will continue to be 22’, and setbacks are now 5’ from the side and 10’ from the rear property line (increased from 5’side and rear setbacks) for any portion of the ADU that is over 16’ in height.
- A 16’, two-story ADU is now allowed at a 4’ side and rear setback (previously 5’ side and rear setbacks).
- When facing an alley: a two-story ADU may be 22’ tall with 4’ side and rear setbacks (previously 5’ side and 10’ rear)
- The limit on rear yard coverage will not apply to ADUs (previous limit was 30%).
- Parking eliminated by ADU construction need not be replaced (previously replacement was usually required).
- ADUs are now subject to the same Green Building standards as other single family homes (previously ADUs were held to a higher standard for Green Building).
ADUs are required to obtain a ministerial building permit and no other discretionary or administrative permit process or standards apply to an ADU, or to the ADU portion of a larger project (previously certain ADUs triggered discretionary action when proposed as part of a larger project, or on certain properties or locations where other development requires additional permits, such as historic properties, etc.).
Land Use Policy Amendments
- ADUs are now allowed on multi-family and mixed use property, in conjunction with any other existing residential use (previously ADUs are only allowed with Single-Family homes).
- On Multi-family properties, up to 2 new construction ADUs (either attached or detached) is now permitted, and up to the number that equals 25% of the existing dwelling units may be added by converting non-livable space within existing multi-family buildings (previously ADUs were not allowed with a multi-family structure).
- Jr. ADUs are now allowed as part of any owner-occupied Single-Family home (previously the City of Santa Cruz did not permit Jr. ADUs).
- Jr. ADUs are limited to no more than 500sf in size, and must have a minimum of the following features:
- Attached to a single family home
- Exterior entrance separate from the entrance for the primary home
- Include a kitchenette with counter space, cabinets, and appliances
- Interior access to a bathroom
- A property with a single family home is now allowed to have both an ADU and a Jr. ADU (previously single-family zoned property is eligible only for a single family home and one ADU).
- The requirement for owner occupancy will not apply to ADUs permitted between 1/1/2020 and 1/1/2025 (previously owner occupancy of the property was required for all legal ADUs).
- The state legislation is not retroactive and does not affect existing ADUs.*
- Note that Jr. ADUs currently require owner occupancy.
In addition to the above, the pending legislation changes other standards that will apply to ADUs and JADUs built in the City but which do not require amendments to the zoning ordinance:
- Reduction in Fees
- ADUs that are 750 sf and smaller will not be subject to any impact fees (schools, parks, water).
- ADUs over 750 sf must be charged impact fees that are a proportion of the fees applicable to the primary dwelling, determined as a ratio of square footage.
- New Construction attached ADUs are now eligible for the same exclusion from utility connection fees that was previously only available to Conversion ADUs.
- Delay of Building Code Enforcement
- Until 2030, ADU owners can request the delay of enforcement of a building code requirement not necessary to protect health and safety for a period of up to five years under certain circumstances.
Last Updated: February 26, 2019
On January 8, 2019 City Council Approved:
An amendment to Chapter 21.03 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code, Relocation Assistance For Displaced Tenants.
The amendment defines what constitutes a “large rent increase” and spells out requirements for relocation assistance should a tenant need to move because of a substantial increase in rent. For more information on the ordinance, please check out our Frequently Asked Questions flyer and a copy of the ordinance.
Contact person: Sarah Fleming email@example.com or 831-420-5216
Tenant Relocation Documents
Last Updated: February 15, 2019
On February 12, at the second reading of the ADU Ordinance Amendments, the City Council voted to add one additional proposal to the list of Proposals Approved:
One item from Category 3: Land Use Policies
- Eliminating parking requirements for Detached New Construction ADUs.
The Council provided further direction that staff shall return to the Council in one year with an update on the number of ADUs that have been created, the number of those ADUs that are Detached New Construction ADUs, and the number of parking complaints we have received from neighbors. At that time, the Council will evaluate the impacts of the change in parking policy and could vote to change the policy, at their discretion.
The amended ordinance had a first reading on February 12, and will return for a second reading on February 26. When the ordinances pass they go into effect 30 days later.
Last Updated: January 25, 2019 ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The City is in the process of revising the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) regulations. The actions described below were taken by the City Council on January 22, 2019, based on a set of proposed ordinance amendments that are summarized in the document attached below.
Once the approved proposals are finalized and go into effect, the information on the website will be updated to reflect the new Code requirements.
For a more detailed analysis of these policies, the staff report and attachments for the 1/22 City Council hearing are available online. (Click on the link, then click on the title of Item 23, and the materials will appear in a list on the right side of the screen).
The project manager for this item is Sarah Neuse. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (831) 420-5092.
All items from Category 1: State Required Changes
- Removing parking requirement for Attached ADUs (attached to the primary home, to a garage, or to another legal structure on the property);
- Removing the Minimum Parcel Size (ADUs can now be added to any size lot);
- Allowing ADUs by right in all Residential Zones, when built with a single family home;
- Removing requirements for Use Permits/Design Permits for ADUs on substandard lots; and
- Allowing ADUs above garages to provide minimum setbacks of 5 feet to side and rear lot lines (previously required minimum of 10 from the rear).
Some items from Category 2: Site and Building Standards
- Allowing full reconstruction of Conversion ADUs (previously limited to 50% of the structure);
- Allowing modest expansions of Conversion ADUs of up to 120 square feet of floor area and 2 feet of height; and
- Allowing interior connections between an attached ADUs and the Primary Home on the parcel (Building Code will likely require a self-closing, fire-rated door for this connection).
One item from Category 3: Land Use Policy Items
- Modifying the definition of Owner-Occupant to include immediate family members (limited to Spouses, Siblings, Parents, and Adult Children).
Additionally, Council passed a resolution reducing the General Plan Maintenance Fee by half for ADU applications. This could be a savings of $450-$750/ application, depending on size and estimated value of the project.
Some items from Category 2: Site and Building Standards
- Increasing Rear Yard Lot Coverage from 30% to 50%;
- Changing ADU Green Building Standards to match those required for new Single-Family Homes (currently significantly higher); and
- Allowing attached ADUs to be 10% of lot size (Currently limited to 50%);
Some items from Category 3: Land Use Policies
- Allowing two ADUs on parcels over 10,000 sf; and
- Eliminating parking requirements for Detached New Construction ADUs.
For these ON HOLD items, Council directed staff to return at a future date with an analysis of the feasibility of requiring perpetual affordability deed restrictions in exchange for each proposed change.
One item from Category 3: Land Use Policies
- Proposal to allow a temporary, three-year period of Short-Term Rental activity for newly-created ADUs. This item will not return to Council.
- Approved Amendments
The approved amendments will come back to Council at the February 12th meeting for a Second reading. There is a possibility that things could change a bit at that point, and I will keep you posted. If there are no substantive changes, the ordinance will be published and final, and go into effect on March 14, 2019 (30 days after the 2nd reading date, per law).
- On-Hold Amendments
Over the course of the next few months we will analyze the likelihood that any of the proposed amendments would effectively encourage the creation of ADUs that are deed-restricted affordable housing to serve individuals or households earning around or below the area median income. After some internal analysis I will be reaching out again to engage with the community about our findings and the new ideas we come up with. Any changes proposed will be required to return to the Planning Commission before being brought back to the City Council. Currently, we’re anticipating this process to take 6-9 months, however this timeline may be extended as the new Council sets their goals and priorities for other work items falling to our department. I will be doing whatever is within my power to keep that timeline as short as possible, but the reality is that with a new City Council, some of our existing workplan is being reprioritized.
- Other ADU Items
The City Councilmembers also asked staff to also consider the following topics as we develop future iterations of the ADU ordinance:
- Allowing ADUs on parcels developed with a duplex, triplex, or other multi-family housing, including a data analysis of the number of parcels that would be affected by this proposal;
- Incorporating alternative transportation measures when lifting parking requirements;
- Facilitating Aging in Place through ADU standards;
- Establishing an ADU loan program;
- Encouraging the use of green building techniques;
- Collecting data to attempt to identify which changes to the ADU standards have been the most effective at creating new housing units (timeline 12 months);
- Lifting Owner Occupancy in exchange for an affordability deed restriction (initially part of the Housing Blueprint Subcommittee recommendations, and reaffirmed by Council);
- Further lowering fees and development costs (initially part of the Housing Blueprint Subcommittee recommendations, and reaffirmed by Council).
2019 ADU Documents
Adopted by City Council on August 28th, 2018.
In 2017, City Council conducted an extensive outreach process related to housing issues, resulting in a report entitled Santa Cruz Voices in Housing: Fall 2017 Community Engagement Report. Once the Report was completed, the Council formed the Housing Blueprint Subcommittee to prioritize the Report recommendations and to develop an implementation strategy. The Subcommittee summarized the results of this process to City Council on June 12, 2018.
The Planning and Community Development Department compiled a Community Outreach Policy in response to the direction from the Subcommittee. The Policy encourages early notification, including sign postings on the project site during different project phases, and broader noticing for community meetings. Community meetings are required for large and significant projects early in the process, and meetings are encouraged for small and medium projects.
A list of recently filed applications will be posted on the Planning Department website and will be updated monthly. Significant projects will include expanded information. Large projects may also have expanded information posted, dependent on project scope and community interest. Notifications regarding community meetings will be posted on the project site and on the City’s website. Announcements will sent via U.S. Mail to owners and residents within a specific radius. Email notices will also be sent to anyone who signs up to receive notices regarding community meetings.
A subcommittee of the Planning Commission will participate in some community meetings, particularly large and significant projects. This will provide representatives of the Planning Commission with opportunities to talk with the applicants and community and to provide site design and architectural feedback earlier in the development review process.
The policy was presented at two community meetings: on May 15, 2018, at which other recommendations by the Subcommittee were also presented, and on July 17, 2018, at which other Planning policy efforts were also presented. The policy was also presented at a developers’ roundtable meeting on July 12, 2018. The Planning Commission reviewed the policy at a public hearing on August 2, 2018. City Council adopted the policy on August 28, 2018.
Contact person: Katherine Donovan, email@example.com or 831-420-5134