Minimum Floor Area Ratio (FAR)
Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is a development standard that is equal to the ratio of floor area of a building on a lot divided by the total lot area. FAR helps determine density and intensity of development when combined with other development standards like building height and setback requirements. The maximum Floor Area Ratio in the commercial zoning districts is 2.0 FAR.
A minimum Floor Area Ratio would establish a minimum level of development (i.e. building size) based on the lot area and is under consideration by the Planning and Economic Development Commission. The minimum FAR discussed at previous public meetings ranges from 0.5 to 0.75 FAR. The Town does not currently regulate minimum levels of density, building size, or lot coverage for development.
On November 9, 2016, the Planning and Economic Development Commission recommended approval to Town Council of General Plan Amendment 15-002 and Zoning Code Amendment 15-002, to change the allowable intensity of development within commercial zoning districts to allow up to a maximum 2.0 FAR and to remove limitations on the number of rooms and units per acre. The project also incorporated related changes to the Land Use Element and a comprehensive update of the Mobility Element.
In association with the project, the Commission previously discussed a minimum Floor Area Ratio, in the range of 0.5 to 0.75 FAR. At the November 9, 2016 meeting, the Commission did not recommend approval of a minimum FAR, but requested that a discussion of the subject be continued to the next meeting.
At their meeting on December 7, 2016, Town Council directed staff that consideration of a minimum FAR be a priority and that a recommendation for action be developed in a timely fashion. On January 4, 2016, at a special meeting, the Planning and Economic Development Commission will continue their discussion of a minimum FAR in the commercial zoning districts.
Planning and Economic Development Commission - December 10, 2014
The Planning and Economic Development Commission raised the subject of a minimum FAR in association with GPA 15-002 and ZCA 15-002 at their workshop with the Town Council on October 8, 2014 and discussed it in further detail at their meeting on December 10, 2014. The Commission directed staff to further analyze a minimum FAR of 0.5 with a caveat that would allow the Commission to approve a lower FAR under certain circumstances. It was noted by staff that a minimum FAR would be included in the CEQA analysis for GPA 15-002 and ZCA 15-002. The staff report and meeting are available for review online.
Planning and Economic Development Commission - March 11, 2015
The Commission discussed the pros and cons of a minimum FAR which included the significant issues with meeting a minimum FAR for smaller parcels, feasibility of understructure parking, agreement that projects less than 0.5 FAR are not compatible with the vision for the downtown, and impacts on development opportunities. Ultimately, it was discussed and agreed upon that if a waiver process was considered as a part of a minimum FAR, that it was reasonable to set a minimum FAR of higher than 0.5. At the conclusion of the meeting, there was consensus to recommend a minimum FAR of 0.75 with a waiver to the minimum to be allowed and processed as an Adjustment, pursuant to Zoning Code Chapter 17.76. It was recommended that the minimum FAR be incorporated into the larger FAR project, and that additional changes be considered at the public hearing. The staff report and meeting are available for review online.
Planning and Economic Development Commission - November 9, 2016
The Commission held a public hearing and recommended approval to Town Council of General Plan Amendment 15-002 and Zoning Code Amendment 15-002. The Commission discussed the proposed 0.75 minimum FAR at length and determined that they did not have sufficient information to provide a recommendation to Town Council regarding a minimum FAR. The Commission requested that staff provide additional analysis for discussion at their next meeting. The staff report and meeting are available for review online.
Town Council - December 7, 2016
As a part of consideration of General Plan Amendment 15-002 and Zoning Code Amendment 15-002, Town Council requested that a discussion of minimum FAR be a high priority and motioned that "a recommendation be developed and communicated to the Town Council for action in a timely fashion and any need for special meetings should be considered and that the full Council is interested in acting on this item in a timely fashion." The staff report and meeting are available for review online (PDF).
Planning and Economic Development Commission - January 4, 2017
A special meeting of the Commission was scheduled to discuss minimum FAR. The Commission requested additional information including examples of development with a minimum FAR of 0.5 and 0.75, provisions for exemptions, and research on other communities that currently use a minimum FAR. The staff report and meeting are available for review online (PDF).
Planning and Economic Development Commission - March 14, 2017
The discussion on minimum FAR was continued to review the additional research and analysis that was prepared in response to the previous meeting. There was no consensus, however there was partial agreement that there was support for a minimum FAR if it were accompanied by a parking solution. For more detail on the research presented, the staff report and meeting are available online (PDF).
Town Council (workshop with Planning and Economic Development Commission) - April 5, 2017
A joint workshop has been scheduled to discuss the available research, analysis, and public comments that have been made regarding a minimum FAR. The staff report will be available for review online no later than March 31.