What is the Carpinteria Downtown Design Overlay Program?
The City of Carpinteria with their consultants, RRM Design Group, are developing a Downtown Design Overlay Program (Overlay). The Overlay will include a set of objective design standards to guide design elements of future development including site planning and design, building design (massing and articulation), utilitarian aspects of buildings (utilities and trash enclosures), and landscape and hardscape areas located on private property. Residents, applicants, designers, and City decision makers and their staff will use this document to create and/or review development applications.
What is the Overlay Study Area?
The Overlay encompasses the “T”-shaped Downtown Core (Figure 1 below), which includes portions of Linden Avenue and Carpinteria Avenue. Linden Avenue serves as the hub of civic and commercial activity for the city. As the stem of the “T”, Linden Avenue, provides a “main street” that connects the town to the beach and features storefronts and a mix of commercial uses. Carpinteria Avenue completes the “T” shape and historically served as a highway defining the northern edge of the city. The Overlay content will focus on development along these streets but includes the adjacent residential areas, which are primarily located along Maple Avenue and south of Sawyer Avenue. The Overlay will not include areas within the public right of way.
Why is this Overlay happening now?
The State of California recently adopted legislation to address the State-wide housing shortage and now requires a streamlined process for specific multi-unit and mixed-use residential developments. In 2019, the City received a grant award from the State of California’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), funded through Senate Bill 2 (SB 2) to be used to develop the Overlay. With assistance from RRM Design Group, the City of Carpinteria is developing the objective design standards to comply with State law while providing design direction for future development that is consistent with the Downtown’s small beach town character.
Currently, Carpinteria relies on both subjective and objective design direction located within its General Plan/Coastal Land Use Plan, Municipal Code, and design guidelines. Subjective design guidelines demonstrate preferences while allowing discretion and flexibility. Objective design standards are those that are clear, measurable, and involve no personal judgment by a public official or decision maker. New objective design standards will allow the City to provide consistent and quantitative direction to guide the design of future Downtown development and provide for a streamlined application review process.
What will the Overlay do and how will it be used?
The Overlay will become a new section of the City of Carpinteria Municipal Code. The Overlay is intended to focus on the quality and design of future development while providing opportunities for additional affordable housing and smaller units to serve Carpinteria’s community. Existing development standards located within the City Municipal Code that regulate uses, setbacks, density/intensity, and various other development controls will remain unchanged.
What is the process and how long will it take?
The team is researching and evaluating City design policy and regulations. New objective standards are being developed by translating existing City regulations and policies into objective language that applies modern best design practices for multiple-family residential projects. The community is encouraged to participate throughout the process, which is anticipated to conclude by Fall 2023.