Mike Donovan


Residential density, as well as new building construction mass and height are still areas of concern in Coronado. Are you satisfied with the current R-3 Residential Zone housing standards for multiple-family residential dwellings and the more restrictive R-1 Residential Zone standards? If not, what changes would you like to see implemented?


In general, the City of Coronado zoning layout is typical of most cities. Commercial zoning is confined near the city center. Then, moving outward from there, Multiple Family Residential zones are defined as R-3, 4, and 5, based on the assigned density of dwellings within the zone (R-5 is the Shores). Moving further out from the center of town is Single Family Residential (R-1). The R-1 designations are further broken down by minimum lot size and dwelling units per acre, i.e., R-1A, R-1B. The logic behind this type of municipal planning is to concentrate commercial areas, allowing for efficient use and access, including public transportation. And, the residential density decreases as one moves away from the hustle and bustle of the commercial zone.

Residential-zoned areas are broken down by minimum lot size and the number of dwellings per lot, but consideration must also be made for the size of the dwellings. Several years ago, the City instituted the Residential Standards Improvement Program (RSIP) to take building size and placement into consideration in the development of Coronado properties. There were three RSIP committees, with the latest one (RSIP-3) submitting their findings to City Council in 2016. The committee, made up of a technically diverse group of architects, developers, builders, and at-large residents, along with City Staff members, made recommendations on off-street parking, building bulk/mass/height, daylight planes, and other issues. The revised codes, ultimately approved by City Council, became effective November 2016. My sense is these revised standards have been beneficial to our community; however the benefits from these changes really just started to appear last year. The city, as well as our residents, should continue to monitor the results of these changes as new projects come to fruition.

A concern I have with respect to zoning and housing density are new rules being proposed and, in some cases, passed by the California legislature, that have a familiar theme of taking away local control from City governments. The most recent example was SB1120, introduced during the California legislative cycle ending August 31, 2020. This bill, which passed in the Assembly (destined to pass in the Senate but missed the midnight deadline), would require California cities to ministerially approve building two dwellings on lots zoned Single Family Residential. Another bill, SB50, which died in committee early this year, would have mandated allowing multifamily apartments or condos, with heights up to five stories, to be built within a half mile of major transit stops, including Coronado bus stops. In other words, there would be few areas in Coronado exempt from this proposed mandate. This was the third attempt at this type of bill and more support has been gained each year.

The one-size-fits-all approach from Sacramento is of great concern to many cities in California, including Coronado. With laws like these, as well as the housing allocation dictated under the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) process, local control continues to be eroded. Coronado needs to be vigilant, make our concerns known, and do everything we can to protect our residential quality of life.

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