City considering state zoning, Waste Management regulations

Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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City staff updated the Winters City Council on new requirements imposed by the state on municipalities at their Nov. 16 meeting.

State Bills 9 and 10 will overrule local zoning codes in an effort to create more housing. State bill 1383 aims to reduce waste by requiring cities to recover food and organic waste.

The Requirements

Senior Planner Kirk Skierski laid out the new regulations for councilors. Effective January 2022, California residents in single-family zoned areas will have the opportunity to create additional housing units on their lots.

SB-9 requires local governments to approve conversion of existing space, like a garage, into a new unit as well as new construction for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), like a granny flat. In addition, cities have to approve homeowner’s requests to split a single, qualifying lot into two parcels.

Any new development that meets SB-9’s criteria will be exempt from Winters’ current zoning laws including required lot sizes. For example, lots in Winters’ densest zone must be a minimum of 5,000 square feet. Under SB-9, lots have a minimum square footage of 1,200.

Additionally, SB-9 minimizes the review process for new construction.

“Currently new residential development requires a design review application and hearing at the Planning Commission,” said Skierski.

However, these are no longer required. The staff will likely conduct design review, although there is some uncertainty as to how the city will review SB-9 development.

“It is possible and likely that this will be an evolving process moving forward,” said Skierski.

Although it can seem daunting to local governments, Skierski said that he does not expect a large increase in development as a result of SB-9’s adoption.

SB-10 gives cities the option to increase residential density with in the zoning code; however, the city does not currently plan to adopt SB-10. If the city wishes to pursue it at a later date, it may do so until Jan. 1, 2029.

Density in Winters

Mayor Wade Cowan said new legislation does not take utilities systems into account.

“The sewer and water and also the power, all that stuff’s predesigned by the number of developments,” Cowan said.

Cowan said that he has, “no desire to adopt anything related to SB-10.”

“People move to Winters to have some space,” Cowan said.

Cowan also said that these laws don’t address the issue of housing cost well as new units will still sell at market rate.

Councilmember Pierre Neu said that although SB-9 and 10 aren’t the only ways to create more housing units, affordable, new housing should be a priority.

“It’s really important that as we make our planning for Winters we consider what we want,” said Neu. “Hopefully that can include some housing that lower income people can afford.”

Mayor Pro Tem Bill Biasi said that the city’s existing option to create duplexes on corner lots is a good step forward for now.

Winters resident Kate Laddish requested that the council hold additional conversations on moving away from single-family zoning. The council plans to wait and see what types of SB-9 development requests surface in the next few months before making further decisions.

“Let’s sit back and wait for a year or see what kind of activity,” said Biasi.

Waste management requirements
City Attorney Joanna Gin presented new state-wide requirements for waste collection and management. Aiming to reduce pollutants like methane released from organic waste, SB-1838 requires cities to collect organic waste. Additionally, residents and business must prevent organic waste from going to landfills.

Although the city already collects organic waste, they now have to recover 0.08 tons of organic waste per resident. For Winters’ population of 7,618, that’s 609.44 tons of waste.

For Winters’ residents, this means waste collection will fall into three categories: trash, recyclables and organic waste. Organic waste includes food scraps as well as paper products and cardboard.

“There is a mandatory subscription requirement for organic waste collection services,” said Gin. “People will be required to separate recyclables,” and food waste into separate bins for trash collection.

The bill, taking effect on Jan. 1, 2022, also requires Winters to develop an edible food waste recovery program for businesses. Lorenzo’s and Mariani’s will be subject to the requirements in 2022, while smaller businesses have until 2024 to comply.

The city is working with Yolo County to develop a program to distribute edible food waste. .

The council expressed frustration that enforcement falls on cities, rather than the state.

“It’s another unfunded mandate for the city to go out and educate and enforce,” said Biasi. ”If we don’t adopt this ordinance, we could be subject to $10,000-a-day fines.”

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