Tiburon advances new housing development regulations

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Tiburon officials are updating the borough code to align city policies with state law housing subsidies.

The City Council unanimously approved the changes at its meeting on Wednesday. The move brings housing policy into line with Senate Bill 9, which went into effect this year to encourage redevelopment on residential lots.

Tiburon’s ordinance would allow up to four residences on parcels previously zoned for one. New homes on those lots could be 800 square feet — the state’s minimum required square footage — and ministerially approved or without a full staff review.

The rules prohibit the construction of junior dwelling units or junior dwelling units when a lot is shared.

The resolution passed on first reading, which means it will go to the Council for consideration and approval at the next regular Council meeting.

“This is an ordinance that is not being proposed because we decided on the spur of the moment that land divisions and additional apartments and single-family homes are something that Tiburon wants or the council wants,” Mayor Jon Welner said. “The regulation we’re looking at today places Tiburon-specific limits within the law.”

As part of the state’s housing mandate, Tiburon must prove it can allow 639 more homes over the next eight years.

A staff report said the city had received requests for housing development under SB 9 since it went into effect Jan. 1.

The ordinance also includes objective standards to limit the lot size, height, color and orientation of windows in the new homes, although a staff report notes there are exceptions that would not preclude the development of 800-square-foot homes.

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on March 23 and recommended a maximum height of 16 feet for any two-home development. The Commission examined and approved the proposed regulation before it was consulted by the Council.

Dina Tasini, director of community development, presented the council’s changes at its Wednesday meeting.

Councilor Alice Fredericks inquired about the allowable square footage under the amended regulation and with ministerial approval.

Tasini said the ordinance would allow 800-square-foot apartments under the new rules.

“If you want to go beyond that, we wouldn’t consider that under SB 9,” Tasini said.

Larger dwellings would require a discretionary review, a lengthy process involving consideration by the Planning Commission.

Welner noted that the city’s ADU ordinance provides a maximum of 1,000 square feet before triggering a staff review. In February, the council rejected a recommendation from the Planning Commission to increase the maximum to 1,200 square feet.

Welner suggested refining these rules so that there aren’t two separate development paths with different rules.

“If we pass that, we’re going to have two somewhat conflicting ordinances on the books,” he said. “There’s a kind of discrepancy there.”

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