Update of Zoning Regulations and Design Guidelines within Fremont's Established Single-Family Neighborhoods
On February 21, 2017, in response to concerns from community members, Fremont's City Council directed staff to evaluate potential methods to address ongoing challenges relating to oversized second-story home additions and the redevelopment of older homes with new homes that are out of scale and character with the neighborhood. Previously, City Council also requested an analysis of potential solar shading impacts from new development, expressing an interest in preserving solar access to achieve the City's sustainability goals. Additionally, the City's General Plan contains community character policies and implementation programs that guide this project.
The Evolution of Fremont Neighborhoods
While many of Fremont's neighborhoods share similar zoning, zoning alone did not create the same outcomes across the city as it grew from the mid 1950s to today.
In the 1950s, land was much less costly and lots tended to be more generously sized. Homes in those early years were predominantly single story. As the decades passed, land costs began to climb and land availability also became scarcer.
By the early 1990s, almost every development was built with two-story homes on the smallest lots possible. For a very short period of time, the City even allowed R-1-4 (4,000 square foot lot) zoning but found the outcome undesirable and repealed the zone in favor of planned development zones utilizing small lot single-family design guidelines.
In the early 2000s, single-family lot development nearly became extinct due to ever increasing land values and townhomes became the prevalent home type for new subdivisions. Given that there is effectively no new land to zone for single-family development in the inner Bay Area, Fremont’s vast supply of modestly sized older homes on larger lots now appear to be the growing focus of change.
Concepts to be Addressed
The City's Planning Division will evaluate existing zoning standards including but not limited to: maximum height, minimum setbacks, maximum lot coverage and/or floor area allowances to address massing, bulk and/or overall size of additions, and substantially reconstructed or rebuilt homes within single-family (R-1) zoned areas of the city. Additionally, Planning will evaluate design rules and guidelines in an effort to develop refined tools to address the compatibility with surrounding neighborhood homes and preserve overall neighborhood character.
Furthermore, the study and analysis will evaluate solar access protections to ensure that the City’s long term sustainability goals can be achieved.
Finally, the study will consider and evaluate potential alternative zoning or design tools (e.g., specialized zoning, conservation districts or historic districts, and/or specialized design guidelines) for neighborhoods that have unique characteristics or design features.
Provide Feedback (COMPLETED): The City asked Fremont residents what they think about this topic. Residents visited Fremont.gov/OpenCityHall to answer questions to assist the Planning division in developing options for City Council consideration. To view the feedback received, visit Fremont.gov/OpenCityHall.
Community Meetings (COMPLETED): Two community meetings were held to review current issues, brainstorm ideas and possible concept solutions, and explore options. Both meetings covered the same information:
Wednesday April 12, 2017 at 7:00 PM or
Wednesday April 26, 2017 at 2:00 PM
Development Services Center
Niles Conference Room (to the left of the main lobby)
39550 Liberty Street, Fremont CA 94538
View Community Meeting Presentation
The Planning Commission held a public hearing on June 8, 2017 and received staff recommendations and public comments. The Commission continued the matter for further consideration to Thursday, July 13, 2017. The staff report will be available on Friday, July 7, 2017 at Fremont.gov/AgendaCenter.
The City Council will tentatively hold a public hearing on Tuesday, September 5, 2017. The agenda, staff report, and Planning Commission recommendations will be available Friday, September 1, 2017 at Fremont.gov/AgendaCenter.