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May 2009

Article Title  
The Staff & Contacts Read Article
Planning Division Updates Read Article
Infrastructure Financing Program Updates Read Article
Modesto Action Center Read Article
Latest Activity Read Article


The Staff & Contacts

Director of Community & Economic Development:
H. Brent Sinclair, AICP

Chief Building Official:
Will Crew

Business Development Manager:
Linda Boston

Planning Manager:
Patrick Kelly

City Engineer:
Bill Sandhu

Traffic Engineer:
Jeff Barnes

Development Related Department Contacts

Community & Economic Development

Fire Department

Parks, Recreation & Neighborhoods

Public Works


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Planning Division Updates

Urban Growth Review

The Modesto Urban Area General Plan "Community Growth Strategy" (Chapter II, Section C.1) calls for a review of the growth trends in the Modesto Urban Area on a periodic basis. As noted in the Community Growth Strategy, this periodic review should provide for the selection of potential urban areas to be served with urban infrastructure during the next five years. In general, the maintenance of a five-year supply of available vacant and agricultural land served with urban infrastructure is desirable and urban growth should be directed as long as economically feasible to these new growth areas currently served with City services. This periodic review is known as Urban Growth Review (UGR).

The last UGR report was accepted by the City Council in July 2003. Based on the findings of the 2003 UGR report, the City Council scheduled the Johansen and Empire North Comprehensive Planning Districts (CPD)s, and the Shackelford neighborhood for a Measure M advisory election. Each of these three areas received an affirmative advisory vote.

The current UGR process began in October 2008. The City Council's Economic Development Committee is facilitating a series of workshops concerning the 2009 UGR, from January through April 2009 and will forward a recommendation. The 2009 UGR report will address the following items:

1) Inventory of vacant land within the City limits available for urban development;

2) Estimate the land acreage needed for residential, commercial and industrial
development in the next several years, in order to determine whether a surplus or deficit in supply of vacant land exists;

3) Identification of alternatives for providing additional land for development;

4) Discussion of infrastructure needs to serve future growth and any areas identified for possible annexation;

5) Any recommendations for scheduling growth areas on the November 2009 ballot for a Measure M vote, to increase the available sites / vacant land inventory.

For more information regarding Urban Growth Review, contact Brad Wall, Principal Planner at (209) 577-5273 or at

Housing Element Update

Staff is preparing the updated Housing Element, which is one of the seven state-mandated elements of the General Plan. In the past, staff has utilized consultants to prepare the Housing Element. For this update, staff has determined that the necessary time and expertise are available by City staff. At this time, staff is evaluating the 2003 Housing Element's requirement to accommodate 15,300 affordable units to determine whether Modesto has achieved that goal.

For the 2009 Housing Element, Modesto is required to accommodate an additional 11,100 affordable units. The State Legislature passes bills during every session that affect affordable housing; staff is working to ensure that the City's 2009 Housing Element passes muster with the Department of Housing and Community Development, which will extend the City's eligibility for various set-aside funds for affordable housing. In accordance with state law, the Housing Element is updated on a five-year cycle. Among other things, Senate Bill 375 (2008) changed this to an eight-year cycle, beginning with the next cycle.

For more information regarding the Housing Element Update, contact Cindy van Empel, Senior Planner at (209) 577-5280 or at

Kiernan Business Park East

The Kiernan Business Park East project site is located on the east side of Dale Road between Kiernan Avenue and Pelandale Avenue. The Kiernan Business Park Specific Plan is proposed to be amended to include approximately 39 acres of Commercial and Medium High Density Residential development on the east side of Dale Road, with 114 acres remaining for Business Park development. The draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was completed and made available for public review on December 17, 2009. The public review period concluded February 2, 2009. Response to comments received and the final EIR are now being completed. It is anticipated that the amendment to the Specific Plan and final EIR will be brought before Council for consideration by mid 2009.

For more information regarding Kiernan Business Park East, contact Josh Bridegroom, Senior Planner at (209) 551-5540 or at

Telecommunications Ordinance

Over the past few years, the City of Modesto has reviewed multiple permit requests for wireless telecommunication (telecom) facilities, mostly proposed on freestanding poles and commonly referred to as cell towers. The City of Modesto has up until now not had specific standards to address telecom facilities and the City review has been based on height requirements in the Zoning Ordinance for the district where a cell tower is proposed.

To address this deficiency, City Planning staff, working with an independent telecommunications expert, drafted an ordinance that provides standards for height, location and design of new facilities. The ordinance provides incentives to encourage co-location on existing facilities, and to encourage "camouflage" designs on new facilities.

After workshops with cellular providers, and the City's Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Adjustment, the City Council formally adopted the ordinance on April 28.

For more information regarding the telecom ordinance, contact Paul Liu, Senior Planner at (209) 577- 5282 or at

Neighborhood Compatibility and Multi-Family Residential Design Guidelines

For many years, the City's Zoning Code has required second-story additions to existing homes and new two-story houses located in established neighborhoods to go through an administrative review in order to ensure that privacy and massing issues that relate to immediately adjacent residences are addressed. In recent years, there have been increasing concerns expressed by neighbors about the scale and compatibility of some of these homes and additions, and this has resulted in an increasing number of appeals of staff approvals to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) and City Council. These concerns came to a head in 2007, when a group of residents requested that the City prepare guidelines to address these concerns. On November 11, 2007, the Council acted on this request and directed staff to pursue the following programs:

1. Neighborhood Compatibility Guidelines to address compatibility issues created by new homes and additions in existing neighborhoods.

2. Multi-Family Residential Design Guidelines to ensure that new multi-family projects are compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods and are of high-quality design.

City Planning staff, following this direction, prepared drafts of both sets of Guidelines.

The Neighborhood Compatibility effort has been focused primarily upon providing more effective guidance for second-story review. For this reason, the organization of the document reflects those topics already identified in the Zoning Code for consideration under the current secondstory review provisions. These topics include Privacy, Scale and Massing, and Solar Access, with the addition of some general consideration for design consistency. Additionally, the Guidelines provide some guidance on lot pattern and neighborhood layout issues, particularly with regard to lot size compatibility and flag lots. They are not intended to be "design guidelines" in the usual sense and do not contain guidance for achieving any particular architectural style.

The purpose of the Multi-Family Residential Design Guidelines is to encourage high-quality multi-family development that emphasizes safety, livability, and long-term viability. The Design Guidelines include an Introduction and six chapters: Site Planning, Circulation and Parking, Building Design, Landscaping, Miscellaneous Site Elements, and Safety.

The two sets of Guidelines underwent two workshops with the public and Planning Commission over a period of several months, and were recently adopted by the City Council on April 28, 2009.

For more information regarding the Guidelines, contact Steve Mitchell, Principal Planner at (209) 577-5287 or at

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Infrastructure financing program


The City of Modesto (City) supports economic development through the growth of Modesto businesses. It also encourages the construction of residential and affordable housing development projects within the City. However, due to the continued rise in development costs and today's weak economy, many development projects are stalled or abandoned. Since the early 1990's, the City has offered several Capital Facilities Fees (CFF) deferral programs to encourage economic development as well as affordable housing developments. By implementing CFF deferral programs, the City seeks to ease this cost barrier by deferring the time for payment of certain development impact fees.

New development increases the demand for health and safety services provided by the City, affects the quality of the community's infrastructure, and increases the need for public facilities.

Typically, CFF is paid to the City at the time a building permit is issued and helps pay for the cumulative impact of new development through infrastructure improvements and additions, thereby also contributing to the community's economic development. Facilities partly funded by CFF include park, police, fire and administrative buildings, bike trails, public landscape areas, community centers, transportation and transit facilities, as well as roadway improvements. CFF does not fund maintenance of existing or future city facilities.

CFF deferral programs benefit economic growth and development by allowing the deferral of impact fees. In most cases, the programs allow developers and single-family affordable homeowners to pay a small portion of CFF at building permit issuance, and defer or delay paying the remainder of the fees until a later date (deferral period varies). CFF deferrals are administered by the Infrastructure Finance Program office located in the City's Community & Economic Development Department. To defer CFF, homeowners and/or developers are required to complete an application and enter into an agreement with the City. Upon approval by the City
Council, the agreement is recorded and a lien is placed on the property until the terms of the agreement are met. Below is a summary of the City's current CFF deferral programs.


1. Single-Family Affordable Housing CFF Deferral

The Affordable Housing Fee Deferral Program is designed to encourage development of affordable housing projects. This program allows for the deferral of CFF for eligible low and very low income housing projects constructed in the city and the city's sphere of influence.

Qualifications: Any single-family affordable housing unit constructed by any person or
entity. The home must be purchased by a homebuyer earning between 61-80% of the
area median income who will use it the development as their principal place of residence.

Conditions: All or a portion of the CFF can be deferred up to five years. Starting in the sixth year, the homeowner begins making payments of principal and interest and
continues to pay annually over a ten year period. This deferral requires an application, signed Agreement approved by the City Council, Promissory Note and City Deed of Trust to secure the note and places a lien on the property. Interest penalties apply if deferred fees are not paid within the maximum fee deferral period.

2. Single-Family Residential Deferral until Final Occupancy

NEW! The Single-Family Residential Deferral until Final Occupancy is designed to
encourage development of single-family residential homes by deferring payment of the CFF until a Certificate of Occupancy is issued by the Building Safety Division.

Qualifications: Any single-family home constructed by any person or entity.

Conditions: CFF is deferred until a Certificate of Occupancy is issued by the Building
Safety Division or 18 months from execution of the agreement, whichever is less. This deferral requires an application, $250 processing fee, $12 recordation fee, preliminary title report, signed Agreement, and places a lien on the property. Interest penalties apply if deferred fees are not paid within the maximum fee deferral period.


Rather than paying CFF at the time a building permit is issued, a property owner or developer may elect to defer payment of all or a portion of those fees if the development falls into one of two categories.

1. Category A - Non Residential CFF Deferral:

Qualifications: Any non-residential project, excluding industrial warehouses, where the CFF exceeds $150,000, and where there is a single owner. This may be one parcel or a group of contiguous parcels. For industrial warehouses, the conditions are the same except the CFF must exceed $50,000.

Conditions: 10% of CFF is paid when a building permit is issued. The remaining 90%
plus interest is paid in equal installments over 10 years. This deferral requires an
application, preliminary title report, signed Agreement approved by the City Council, and places a lien on the property. Interest penalties apply if deferred fees are not paid within the maximum fee deferral period.

2. Category B - Non-Residential CFF Deferral:

Qualifications: Projects, excluding industrial warehouses, where the CFF is between
$25,000 to $150,000, and where there is a single owner. This may be one parcel or a
group of contiguous parcels. For industrial warehouses, the conditions are the same
except the CFF must be between $25,000 to $50,000.

Conditions: 20% of CFF is paid when a building permit is issued with the remaining
80% paid in equal installments over 5 years plus interest. This deferral requires an
application, preliminary title report, signed Agreement approved by the City Council, and places a lien on the property. Interest penalties apply if deferred fees are not paid within the maximum fee deferral period.

For more information regarding CFF Deferral Programs, please contact the Infrastructure Finance Program Office @ (209) 577-5211 or visit the City's website at


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Modesto Action Center

The Modesto Action Center is a web-based customer relationship management program on the City's website at that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This program makes it easy for citizens, businesses, organizations and visitors to send questions, compliments, complaints, suggestions and service requests directly to a City staff person who can help. An additional feature of the Modesto Action Center is a "Frequently Asked Questions" section.

The Modesto Action Center is organized by topics and subtopics so that an inquiry is routed to the most appropriate staff member who can then respond to a customer's communication more effectively and efficiently. The Community and Economic Development Department offers a variety of subtopics under the topics of Building, Business Development, Planning and Traffic. We encourage our customers to utilize the Modesto Action Center so that we may serve you better!

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Latest Activity

Statistics for January - March 2009

Residential Permits

Commercial Permits

Total Permits: 639

Inspections: 7005
Zoning Applications: 4
Plan Reviews: 11

Tentative Subdivision/Parcel Maps

Encroachment Permits

Transportation: 34




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