Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Hidden Traps of High Density Housing Downtown

Parking and Congestion will be a problem!

The Senior Housing project has asked for a Density Bonus.  This allows the project to contain additional units that would otherwise not be allowed, reduced setbacks, relaxed height restrictions, relaxed open-space requirements, and reduced floor area ratios. A Density Bonus must be awarded if the project contains at least one of the following (From Gov Code 65915):
(A) Ten percent of the total units of a housing development for lower income households, as defined in Section 50079.5 of the Health and Safety Code.
(B) Five percent of the total units of a housing development for very low income households, as defined in Section 50105 of the Health and Safety Code.
(C) A senior citizen housing development, as defined in Sections 51.3 and 51.12 of the Civil Code, or a mobilehome park that limits residency based on age requirements for housing for older persons pursuant to Section 798.76 or 799.5 of the Civil Code.
(D) Ten percent of the total dwelling units in a common interest development, as defined in Section 4100 of the Civil Code, for persons and families of moderate income, as defined in Section 50093 of the Health and Safety Code, provided that all units in the development are offered to the public for purchase.
(E) Ten percent of the total units of a housing development for transitional foster youth, as defined in Section 66025.9 of the Education Code, disabled veterans, as defined in Section 18541, or homeless persons, as defined in the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 11301 et seq.). The units described in this subparagraph shall be subject to a recorded affordability restriction of 55 years and shall be provided at the same affordability level as very low income units.
So which of these is the Senior Housing project going to take advantage of?

Among other things, a density bonus allows the project to reduce the number of parking units normally required to the following ratios:
(A) Zero to one bedroom: one onsite parking space.
(B) Two to three bedrooms: two onsite parking spaces.
(C) Four and more bedrooms: two and one-half parking spaces.
But there's more. The ratio can be reduced to 0.5 spaces per bedroom if there is access to a major transit stop, similar to the bus route right outside the development area. From Gov Code 21155(b):
A major transit stop is as defined in Section 21064.3, except that, for purposes of this section, it also includes major transit stops that are included in the applicable regional transportation plan. For purposes of this section, a high-quality transit corridor means a corridor with fixed route bus service with service intervals no longer than 15 minutes during peak commute hours.
So if the bus line comes every 15 minutes during commute times, then the required parking allocation goes down to 0.5 spaces per bedroom!