Commentary - Building height changes under consideration not consistent with Elk Grove's recently adopted general plan

By DeAna Melilli |

A historic moment for Elk Grove occurred during the Planning Commission Meeting Agenda Item 5.4 – Zoning Updates, on Thursday, November 21. 

City staff requested the Commission to approve increased building height requirements from the existing 40 feet to 60 feet when within 100 feet of a home for development in the Residential Mixed-Use district, therefore going from a 3-story complex to allowing a 4-story complex next to a home. 

In addition, staff recommended increasing the allowed building height from 40 feet to 75 feet when within 100 feet of a home for development in the Village Center Mixed-Use district, therefore allowing an increase from a 3-story complex to a 6-story complex for developments next to a home. 

It was also recommended that the height standard of the Business Professional (Office) zone would increase from 40 feet to 60 feet. 

In addition, the recently prepared citywide General Plan Environmental Impact Report (EIR) did not analyze the effects of a 6-story (75 feet) complex built in Elk Grove and the associated effects on its residents in neighborhoods citywide. The EIR analysis only considered a maximum building height of 40 feet 3-story building Citywide.

Also, for the Residential District 30 (3-story homes), staff recommended that the open space requirement be reduced from 25 to 20-percent, along with removing the any language on open space.  This means there would be less of a buffer between homes and businesses.

The bottom line with all these changes would those homeowners who have solar on their homes and located adjacent to new commercial construction may lose the effectiveness of the solar panels, or (if they  have light-dependent landscaping) may need to re-landscape their yards.

The General Plan and zoning ordinance are required to be consistent per state law. But the Planning Commission continues to consider approving these type of City of Elk Grove General Plan amendments and zoning changes that do not seem to be consistent with what was just approved in February 2019 Citywide General Plan.  No recommendation by the Planning Commission was made on these recent proposals although the community should follow future Planning Commission agendas for further actions on these matters.

Of course any recommendation by the Planning Commission is subject to final action by the City Council. And upon receipt of the Planning Commission’s report, the City Council would set the matter for a public hearing. 

The decision of the City Council is the final action on such applications. But before these matters go before the City Council, it is important that the ramifications of any such changes be more fully considered and at the Planning Commission level.

If you have an opinion or concern about the changes proposed for building height allowances in the City of Elk Grove, watch for the agenda item for the public hearing – zoning changes.  I encourage you to take an interest in our community and by supporting those citizens who dedicated time, energy, and suggestions for the City’s future long-term goals in countless meetings when they last comprehensively updated the City of Elk Grove General Plan in February 2019. 

 DeAna Melilli is an Elk Grove resident. 

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