Capitola seeks input on zoning workshops

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By Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel

CAPITOLA >> The zoning code adopted in 1975 for this seaside city of 10,000 people in 2 square miles is finally getting an overhaul. And city officials want community input on how to improve the existing regulations.

The planning staff has identified 18 complex issues such as protecting residential neighborhoods, maintaining the village character, development on 41st Avenue, parking requirements in the village, “granny units,” non-conforming uses and signs, plus two or more options on how to address them.

At workshops, staff will explain the strengths and weaknesses of those options.

The planning commission preferred limiting discussions to four or five hours vs. all-day workshops but ultimately asked the City Council to weigh in, which will happen when the council meets at 7 p.m. Thursday.

The goal is to have a preliminary draft zoning ordinance by the end of September.

A survey completed by 150 people, 81 percent residents, 16 percent business owners, and 5 percent real estate professionals or developers, found 64 percent want the city to explain more clearly when a permit is needed; 55 percent favor a table to explain zoning standards; 51 percent want less jargon and more plain English.

Half of the respondents had applied for a permit for residential construction, remodel or addition while 27 percent applied for a tree permit.

The top issues are neighborhood character and building height of future residential development, cited by 50 percent of respondents, with new home size and adequate on-site parking close behind. Fewer cited environmentally sensitive areas, historic preservation and yard size.

Asked which areas should be considered for mixed-use and higher density land uses, 78 percent cited Capitola Mall while 54 percent said multifamily affordable housing should be considered for the mall and 41st Avenue.

Seven of 10 favor status quo for existing multifamily homes in single-family neighborhoods that would not be allowed to be built today.

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