Looking to Office Parking Lots to Boost Housing
Rancho Cordova investigates a great example of innovative policy by using SB2 planning grants
March 19, 2019: Rancho Cordova could allow multifamily housing to be built on underused office parking lots under a policy proposal being developed by its planners.
The policy would allow multifamily development within the city’s office parks, and could lead to multifamily projects being built on vacant parcels or underused parking lots, the city’s planning manager Darcy Goulart told the Sacramento Business Journal.
That would mean housing could be much closer to job centers, an important development in what is the region’s second-biggest private employment area. That could mean walkable commutes and less air pollution in the city, as well as addressing California’s housing shortage.
The policy would likely lift the city’s density maximum in these areas higher than the currently allowed 18 units per acre, inspired by the BDX housing development near the Capital Village retail center. That project has 199 units on 5.12 acres, a density of almost 39 units per acre.
Increasing allowed densities would allow the city to repeat what was a winning formula for BDX, which recently sold for $57.5 million. It would spur revitalization of the city’s 1980s and ‘90s office parks, as well as enable an area slated as a future downtown to have housing, said Rancho Cordova City Councilmember Linda Budge.
“It could become a main-and-main sort of hub,” she said. “People can work, live, shop and play. If you have those four components, you have a true downtown.”
Rancho Cordova is looking to fund this policy change with an SB 2 planning grant. SACOG staff have been working with planners in all of its 28 member jurisdictions to ensure they have projects lined up that would be eligible for the SB2 planning grants, which are only available for a limited time and are administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
Allowing for and increasing allowed densities in commercial and office areas is one of the policies included in the SACOG Housing Policy Toolkit, which provides a menu of eligible policies for SB 2 planning grants. SACOG member agencies will be able to apply for these non-competitive planning grants ranging between $125,000 and $500,000 over an eight-month period beginning this month. For more information, contact Dov Kadin.