City of South Pasadena | Council Takes Steps Towards More Housing

Key adoption of Zoning Code Amendments last week


At its May 5, 2021, meeting, the South Pasadena City Council adopted two important amendments to the Zoning Code, both seen as critical housing policy initiatives in the City’s strategy to develop the 2021-2029 Housing Element to meet the community’s needs and include opportunities for lower income households.

With these key policy initiatives in place, the City’s Planning Division is now preparing to relaunch the General Plan and Downtown Specific Plan (DTSP) planning process, together with more public discussion of the Housing Element at a special (virtual) Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, May 26.

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The May 5 adoption of the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance makes permanent the provisions of the April 7 urgency ordinance requiring new multi-family residential developments to include 20% of the base number of units in the project as “inclusionary” or affordable to extremely low, very low, low or moderate income households.

Projects that include the required mix of deed-restricted affordable units on-site may also access density bonuses for which developers are eligible by State law. South Pasadena’s unique approach to streamlining the use of state density bonuses encourages projects of high architectural quality while introducing incentives that reduce time and development costs for the developer to support the project’s inclusion of affordable housing units.

Over time, the City expects this strategy to result in projects consistent with the aesthetic expectations of the community that offer affordable housing distributed throughout the city. The Council’s next agenda item on May 5th sealed the adoption of the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance update, which allows two-story ADUs, provides objective standards, addresses safety issues in hillside fire-risk areas, and clarifies the processes for staff-level (administrative) review.

The popularity of ADUs has surged across the LA region, including South Pasadena. The goal of the update was to adopt standards that reflect City goals, comply with State law, and give applicants as much information as possible upfront to support an ADU design that can be approved quickly, easing the process on applicants and staff alike. An illustrative brochure, and a fillable .pdf application form will be available on-line at the (new) Virtual Planning Counter and at City Hall. Website updates are planned prior to the June 4, 2021, effective date of the ordinance.

An updated fillable application form for residential Design Review with more information about complying with inclusionary housing requirements may also be found at the Virtual Planning Counter.

To follow the progress of all of South Pasadena’s exciting planning activities to address the community’s housing needs, charting its own course to maintain the city’s small-town character while expanding inclusivity, consult the 2021-2029 Housing Element webpage and the General Plan and Downtown Specific Plan Update webpage.