Zoning Code Update

The City of Seal Beach Zoning Update Project

The City of Seal Beach Zoning Update is a City-led project required by State law to implement the City’s 6th Cycle Housing Element. In 2021, the City was assigned 1,243 housing units through the Regional Housing Needs Assessment process. As a part of the Housing Element update, the City was required to identify locations where those units can be developed. Like most urbanized communities in the area, Seal Beach does not have enough vacant, residentially-zoned land to accommodate that growth. Therefore, the City must create and implement a new mixed-use zone in identified commercial centers where there is an opportunity to incorporate housing into the commercial environment.

We invite the community to participate in the development and drafting of the new development and design standards that will ultimately become a part of the Zoning Code. The City aims to work with the community and City decision-makers through the spring and summer of 2022 on drafting the amendments, with adoption in fall of 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions

·         What is the purpose of the new zone? The purpose of the new mixed-use zone is to ensure that the buildout described by the Housing Element Site Inventory is supported in the Zoning Code. Under State law, the City must prepare for the assigned housing growth, and one of the primary tasks is to create zoning that allows for that development.

·         What kind of amendments are we proposing? The biggest change will be the creation of a residential mixed-use zone that will be inserted into Chapter 11.3 of the City of Seal Beach Zoning Code. The zone will allow an appropriate range of community-serving commercial uses as well as residential uses. Residential density is expected to be allowed at levels up to 46 dwelling units per acre.

·         Where will the new zone go? The Draft Housing Element identifies areas with capacity and likelihood to accommodate high-density housing development in product types up to about 46 dwelling units per acre. These areas include the Downtown Main Street Corridor, Seal Beach Center, and the Shops at Rossmoor, and other commercial centers throughout the City. The City anticipates that a total of approximately 80 acres will be re-zoned as part of this project.

·         How will the new zoning designation be different than other existing designations? The current zoning code already allows for up to 46 dwelling units per acre within certain residential zones, however, it does not have a mixed-use designation for that same density, which would allow for the integration of residential and commercial uses at a site.

·         What will it include? Like all zoning districts, the code will establish basic development standards, such as density, floor area ratio, building height, building setbacks, and required open space. This projects, however, will also introduce objective design standards for development within the new zoning district. These are design standards that complement the basic zoning regulations to ensure that design meets the goals of the community. Standards will address topics such as site design (parking, design, landscaping, sustainability measures); building massing and scale (building configuration, upper-story modulation, roof form and design, transitions); and various elements of building design (façade articulation, privacy, building entrances, design at corners, window design). The community’s input these and other design elements will be essential as the City drafts the zoning amendments.
§  A Little More About Objective Design Standards: The Zoning Amendments will be written to comply with SB 330, a 2019 State law that changed how housing projects can be regulated and how development applications are processed. Also known as the Housing Crisis Act, SB330 is aimed at accelerating housing production in California. Among other restrictions, it prohibits cities from imposing or enforcing standards that are not objective in nature It also prohibits cities from passing any new standards that are not objective. The adoption of objective design standards as part of the Zoning Amendments project is one way the City can be sure to comply with SB330 while meeting the community’s vision and design priorities.

·         The Housing Element has not yet been certified by HCD. Why are we updating the zoning code now? State law now requires that jurisdictions without certified housing elements must update their zoning code by October 15, 2022. The vast majority of jurisdictions in Orange, Los Angles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial, and Ventura Counties will need to meet this requirement, as very few Housing Elements were certified by the February 2022 deadline. Read more about the Housing Element here.

Estimated Project Schedule

·         April 2022: Project Initiation
·         May-June 2022: Preparation of Preliminary Recommendations
·         July 2022: Joint PC/City Council Study Session on Recommendations
·         August 2022: Release Draft Amendments for Public Review
·         August 2022: Community Workshop on the Draft Zoning Amendments.
·         October 2022: Hearings and Adoption

Material for Public Review 

Please check back; materials will be uploaded as they become available.

Comments or Questions?

Please share your questions or comments about the Zoning Code Amendments project. Your input is crucial in shaping the project as it proceeds and in helping us understand the needs and priorities of the community. Please email Alexa Smittle with comments or questions on the zoning update at asmittle@sealbeachca.gov. Thank you for your participation!