Santa Cruz, CA, Municipal Code

Updated September 2019

By: Santa Cruz Plng & Cmty Devel
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Table of Contents

Accessory Dwelling Units

The city’s zoning code permits internal, attached, and detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) by right in all districts that permit single-family residences, subject to use-specific standards (§24.16.100 et. seq.). These standards cover permit procedures, design and development standards, deed restrictions, and zoning incentives.

The permit procedures provisions address standard and substandard lots (§24.16.130).

The design and development standards address parking, unit size, existing development, units per lot, setbacks, lot coverage, compliance with the state building code, owner occupancy, short-term rentals, height, alley or rail trail orientation, design, large home design permits, open space and landscaping, entrances and windows, and green building standards (§24.16.140).

The deed restrictions provisions address subdivision and sale, unit size, compliance with standards, applicability to future owners, parking permits, and short-term rentals (§24.16.150).

The zoning incentives provisions address affordability, covered parking, front or exterior yard parking, tandem parking, alley or rail trail presence, and historic properties (§24.16.160).

Green Building

The city’s municipal code establishes a green building program for new developments and renovations. Exceptions to this program include residential renovations under 300 square feet, nonresidential renovations under 1,000 square feet, and some historical structures (§24.15.040). The city’s green building program also includes a “Green Building Educational Resource Fund” which is supported by permitting fees (§24.15.080). 

Inclusionary Housing

The city's zoning code addresses inclusionary housing (§24.16.010 et seq.). Affordability provisions apply to all residential developments.

Development creating two to four dwelling units may provide one lower-income affordable unit or pay an in-lieu fee; development creating five or more units requires provision of 15 percent lower- and median-income affordable units, or 15 to 30 percent for small ownership unit developments. Units must be affordable in perpetuity.

The code provides standards for inclusionary units that address dispersal, design compatibility, unit mix, and concurrent phasing. Alternative methods of compliance include off-site construction of units, conversion of existing market rate units to inclusionary units, credit transfers, in-lieu fees, or land dedication. The code provides incentives for providing inclusionary units, including fee waivers, density bonuses, or reductions in unit size or interior amenities.

Developers must enter into an affordable housing agreement with the city record with final map approval. The code provides guidance for determining prices and administering rentals and sales. Priority is given to residents and employees of the city and county of Santa Cruz. The code provides for waivers of requirements and addresses implementation and enforcement.

The city also provides density bonuses for voluntary provision of units affordable to very low-, low-, and moderate-income households, as well as seniors (§24.16.200 et seq.).

The city’s Measure O/Inclusionary Housing website provides additional information on inclusionary housing program requirements, including a financial feasibility analysis for inclusionary rental residential development and rental and sales information for inclusionary units.   

Santa Cruz, CA

2010 Population: 59,946

2010 Population Density: 4,705.34/square mile