Monday, September 15, 2008

Blog #26 Special Council Meeting-Mixed Use Overlay Ordinance

The Town Council will hold a Special Meeting from 9AM-12 NOON on Saturday, September 27, 2008, to discuss the proposed Mixed Use Overlay Ordinance. Many residents have asked me what is a Mixed Use Overlay Zone and how does it affect me? Well, to help answer that question the Town is posting the following information to explain the basic reasons for a Mixed Use Overlay Zone and how it affects individuals and the community as a whole:

What is a Mixed Use Overlay Zone?

Fairfax’s proposed Mixed Use Overlay (MX) Zone is a revision to the zoning ordinance that allows key parcels to be eligible for relaxed zoning standards only if their development provides a minimum of 20% affordable housing units.

Examples of affordability ranges are for 1 person households, $23,750 to $79,800 and for 4 person households, $33,950 up to $114,000.The MX Zone does not apply to the entire downtown area but rather only to the Commercial Highway (CH) zone. The CH zone includes the Fair-Anselm/Albertson’s parcels which are bound by Sir Francis Drake, Center Boulevard and Pastori Avenue, as well as the east side of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard north of Claus Drive. The Broadway/Bolinas/Sir Francis Drake Boulevard area which is the core of Fairfax’s downtown is not eligible for the MX Zone.

Zone Requirements: The MX Zone has all of the requirements currently in the Commercial Highway zone plus the following key standards:

• Residential density allowing up to 20 and 25 dwelling units per acre
• Ratio of commercial to residential uses is 50% commercial to 50% residential
• Reduced parking requirements for residential dwellings
• Minimum affordable housing requirement is 20%.

Why create a Mixed Use Overlay Zone?

The MX Zone is proposed primarily to create opportunities for affordable housing in order to comply with State Housing Law and to secure a certified Housing Element. Other goals are to foster revitalization of the downtown by stimulating development of under performing commercial parcels and promoting pedestrian oriented, transit friendly uses.

Some of the economic incentives for having a certified Housing Element include eligibility under the following grant programs:

• Workforce Housing Reward Program which can be used for parks, street improvements and community revitalization efforts
• Community Development Block Grant Program for public works, community facilities, and economic development
• Infill Incentive Program which provides funds for infrastructure improvements
• Thus, if the Housing Element is certified by the State, Fairfax would be eligible for grant programs that could assist with needed infrastructure improvements.

Worst case scenarios may exaggerate actual impacts. The CEQA Initial Study for the MX Zone identifies worst case scenarios for increased number of households and traffic impacts, in order to assure that potential impacts are adequately anticipated. However, this type of analysis can result in significant overestimation of potential effects. Actual Mixed Use Overlay Projects would have to meet or mitigate any traffic impacts identified by the Town Ordinances on a case by case basis.

Height Bonus for Fair-Anselm /Albertson’s area only

The proposed MX Zone would provide a height bonus of one story, permitting up to 3 stories and 35 feet in height. The only parcels eligible for this bonus are those that meet all of the following criteria:

• Provide 40% affordable dwelling units
• Are located in the Fair-Anselm/Albertson’s area of Town.

The remaining Commercial District areas would retain their two-story, 28.5 foot height limit.