DATE: February 20, 2001

TO: Planning Commission

FROM: Gary Gillette, Planner
Community Development Department

FILE NO.: TXT2001-00001

PROPOSAL: An ordinance (Serial No. 2001-02) to amend the Land Use Code to allow an existing building in the Mixed Use zoning district to revert to its original residential density after subsequent use changes.

BACKGROUND

This ordinance considers amending the Land Use Code to allow existing buildings in the Mixed Use zoning district to revert to its original residential density after subsequent use changes. This proposed ordinance amendment came about because of a proposal by the Marine View Center (location of CBJ Permit Center, Community Development Department, and Engineering Department). The building was constructed in the 1960’s with retail on the first floor and apartments on floors 2 through 9.

As time progressed the market demand was for office space downtown. The owner converted floors 2, 3, and 4 to office space. Now the demand for office space has declined and the owner would like to meet the increasing demand for housing in downtown. In reviewing this proposal CDD staff determined that the density of the building was greater than that allowed in the MU, Mixed Use zoning district. Once a non-conforming use is abandoned for more than a year it cannot revert back to the former use. Thus, it was not feasible for CDD to approve the proposal to revert back to residential uses.

 

ANALYSIS

Mixed Use District

The downtown mixed use district hosts a variety of uses including retail, office, and residential. A key to a vital downtown is an adequate supply of housing. Many planning efforts by the city have pointed to increasing housing opportunities in the downtown area. The current density in the mixed use zoning district is 60 units per acre.

Some buildings in the district were constructed prior to the current density limitation. As market demands changed some building owners converted residential units to commercial uses. This was well within the parameters of the mixed use zoning district. Now that market demands have shifted there is a need for more residential units downtown. It seems counter productive to penalize a building owner for shifts in the market when in fact the downtown would benefit with additional residents.

Type of Approval

The proposal is to allow the CDD Director to review and approve specific buildings to revert to former housing density. Staff could not identify any significant issues or concerns that would require Planning Commission review for buildings in this situation.

Parking

The parking requirement for a residential use is less than commercial uses. Buildings which might qualify for the proposed provision were likely built prior current parking codes. Some older buildings required no parking when constructed or less than required today. In either case they would be grand-fathered on this issue. In some cases, buildings are in Parking District 1 which does not require additional parking for a change of use. This is the case of Marine View Center.

In other cases a building might be outside PD-1. In these cases some provision of additional parking should have been made when converting residential to commercial uses. Assuming this was done, the reverting back to residential would have no additional effect on the parking requirement.

Comprehensive Plan

The Comprehensive Plan addresses this proposal in general terms in the following policy:

  • POLICY 2.8. IT IS THE POLICY OF THE CBJ TO ENCOURAGE AND FACILITATE PROVISION OF A VARIETY OF HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES IN SUFFICIENT QUANTITIES AND AT AFFORDABLE PRICES, TO MEET THE HOUSING NEEDS OF ITS RESIDENTS. PROVISION OF AN ADEQUATE SUPPLY OF HOUSING FOR LOW AND MODERATE INCOME FAMILIES IS A TOP PRIORITY.
  • Further, the following Implementing Action of the Comprehensive Plan speaks directly to this proposal:

  • 2.8.15. Provide an incentive program, such as parking relief or assistance, for conversions of commercial uses back to, or to residential uses in Mixed Use areas.
  • RECOMMENDATION

    It is recommended that the Planning Commission recommend the Assembly adopt TXT2001-0001, Ordinance Serial No. 2001-02, an ordinance amending the Land Use Code Table of Permissible Uses to allow an existing building in the Mixed Use zoning district to revert to its original residential density after subsequent use changes.