Progressive Zoning Comes to Salinas
City approves ‘new urbanism’ principals.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Salinas will soon have a zoning code that dramatically departs from suburban planning principles that have been in place since shortly after World War II.
On Tuesday, Oct. 17, the City Council unanimously approved the most progressive zoning code in Monterey County, which will be officially adopted on Nov. 7. It mandates that new housing projects be compact, interconnected and within walking distance to jobs, shopping and schools. It also encourages developers to add porches and design features that keep eyes on the streets to cut down on crime.
“It sets standards the city expects so the development community…has an understanding of our community values and expectations on new development,” said Bob Richelieu following a public hearing that preceded Tuesday’s vote.
“The mixed use will create much better communities.”
City staff reviewed the 500-page-plus document practically page by page with members of the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce as well as the Builder’s Exchange. Ultimately, the council decided to take the groups’ advice on two key issues: affordability restrictions for rented granny units were eliminated, and parking requirements for apartments and condos were not changed.
The regulations will mainly apply to planned developments north of Boronda Road, which will be part of a “new urbanism” district. The City is in the process of annexing the unincorporated land to build about 11,700 homes over 20 years.
The code also calls for pedestrian-friendly growth in areas such as Laurel Drive and North Main Street, as well as East Alisal and East Market streets. And it creates mixed-use districts to give incentives to builders of commercial and retail projects who include housing units in their plans.
“The mixed use will create much, much better communities, physically active communities,” says John McCormack, a commercial real estate broker and member of the Chamber of Commerce’s working group.
The code will also allow downtown venues to offer live entertainment without going through a cumbersome and expensive permit process. Councilman Sergio Sanchez says he wants to see the same type of approach in East Salinas, but the council decided to work with businesses to find specific places to allow live music.