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Pending / Future Amendments
Municipal Code Amendments

Community Meeting
A community meeting on proposed changes to the City of San José Municipal Code is scheduled for Monday, May 2, 2016, starting at 7:00 P.M. The meeting will be held in City Hall Wing Rooms 118 & 119 at 200 East Santa Clara Street, San José.

The following Zoning Code amendments are targeted for Planning Commission and City Council consideration in 2016.

California State Housing Density Bonus and Incentives Law:
  • Add a new chapter to the Zoning Code to implement the California State Housing Density Bonus and Incentives Law and provide affordable housing incentives consistent with the Envision San José 2040 General Plan. 

Residential Zoning Standards:
  • Reduce Setbacks and Parking for Residential Zoning Districts - Consider reducing setbacks and parking as incentives for providing affordable housing in compliance with State Density Bonus law. 
  • Maximum Allowable Height and Story Modification for R-M Multiple Residence Zoning District - Consider increasing maximum allowable height and stories for R-M to align with Urban Residential and Transit Residential land use designations in the Envision San José 2040 General Plan.
  • Modify Requirements for Secondary Units – Reduce setbacks and minimum lot size, increase maximum allowable height, and allow secondary units in the R-2 Two-Family Residence Zoning District.

Zoning Code and Title 6 (Business Licenses and Regulations) - Offsale of Alcoholic Beverages:
  • Currently, a full-service grocery store that applies for an offsale alcoholic beverage license from the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control must go through the process of obtaining a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) approved first by the City of San José Planning Commission and then the City Council. Full service grocery stores must also obtain a determination of public convenience or necessity (PC or N) for offsale of alcohol. The City is considering simplifying this process by allowing the issuance of a Special Use Permit (SUP) and determination of PC or N as approved by the Planning Director, in conformance with State laws that regulate the concentration in neighborhoods of the number of businesses selling alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption.

Riparian Corridor Policy and Ordinance:
The City is proposing amendments to the Zoning Code, and adoption of a new City Council Policy to implement the policies of the General Plan related to protection of riparian corridors.
  • Zoning Code - Amendments and additions to the Zoning Code would require findings of consistency with the General Plan, and other City Council adopted policies and design guidelines, including a new City Council Policy; and require any proposed single-family house development that involves ground-disturbing activity within one hundred (100) feet of a riparian corridor to obtain approval of a Single-family House Permit. 
  • New City Council Policy - The new City Council Policy would provide guidance for riparian corridor protection for: 1) protecting, preserving, or restoring riparian habitat; 2) minimizing urban runoff to creeks, rivers, and streams; 3) controlling erosion; and 4) encouraging bird-safe design within the area north of State Route 237. 
Planning Commission and City Council hearings on these Riparian Corridor items are targeted to occur by June 2016.

Future Municipal Code Amendments and Policy Changes
Distinctive Neighborhoods Program
The City is developing a Distinctive Neighborhoods Program to add further protection and enhancement to unique residential neighborhoods, such as historic neighborhoods. The goals for the program include defining the characteristics of distinct neighborhoods based on input from community groups, neighborhood associations, the development community, and other interested parties and reviewing existing protections while also proposing potential revised and/or new protection options including identifying potential Municipal Code or other policy changes. Extensive outreach and policy analysis were done in 2009 and the City Council approved funding for the implementation of two Distinctive Neighborhood Program policy options.

Implementation of these policy options requires amendments to Title 13.48 (Historic Preservation Ordinance) and Title 20 (Zoning Code) of the City of San José Municipal Code as follows:

Title 13 - Historic Preservation Code
  • Conservation Area streamlined designation process – Amendments to the Code are proposed that would modify the process for the establishment of Conservation Areas. The proposed change would remove the requirement that all structures must be individually evaluated as part of a survey of a proposed Conservation Area, and instead require preparation of a context statement evaluating the neighborhood as a whole.
  • Conservation Area interim regulations – Amendments to the Code would also provide interim regulations for homes within proposed Conservation Areas after a complete Conservation Area application has been filed, during the period that the City is processing the neighborhood’s Conservation Area application.

Title 20 - Zoning Code
  • Require a Planning Permit for proposals to demolish older homes located anywhere within the City – To address concerns about the demolition of older homes that contribute to neighborhood character, code revisions are proposed that would require that a Single Family House Permit be obtained for proposals to demolish single-family homes that were built before 1965. 
  • Demolition Definition – Changes are proposed to the definition of “Demolition” as it applies to single family homes built prior to 1965 or homes listed on the Historic Resources Inventory. These revision would give more emphasis to the amount of building being removed or altered that faces a street(s). Demolition would now include the removal of more than forty percent (40%) of the surface of building elevations facing a street(s).

Public Hearing for Distinctive Neighborhoods Program

  • May 7, 2014 Historic Landmarks Commission Meeting: The Historic Landmarks Commission provided their recommendation and comments to the City Council.
  • Planning Commission and City Council Meetings: The proposed Ordinances are tentatively scheduled for Planning Commission and City Council consideration in 2015 / 2016.

Per prioritization established by the City Council, the City is also working on possible Municipal Code and/or policy changes to address the following topics:  
  • Zoning Ordinance Quarterly Modification - Minor changes to the Zoning Code conducted as part of ongoing maintenance of the Code on a regular basis.
  • Secondary Units (granny flats) -Consider allowing secondary units in the R-2 Two-Family Residence Zoning District on lots with one primary dwelling that is a single-family residence.
  • Tattoo Parlors - Adopt regulations specific to Tattoo Parlors and other related businesses. 
  • Development Agreement Policy - Update criteria
  • Wood Burning Appliances - Revise criteria for operation to reduce air pollution.
  • Newsracks in Neighborhood Business Districts (NBDs) - Create criteria for location and signage. 


Jenny Nusbaum, Supervisor of Ordinance and Policy Team.
Email or (408) 535-7872