Zoning Code Update

Bakersfield is updating its Zoning Code to implement the City’s 6th Cycle Housing Element. Through the Housing Element and as required by State law, the City needs to plan for 37,461 housing units for the planning period that covers the eight-year period from 2023 to 2031. As part of this process, Bakersfield had to identify locations where those units could potentially be developed and update the zoning code to allow for that development.

What is zoning?

Zoning keeps communities safe and pleasant by ensuring basic standards for quality of life and safety are met, including preventing hazardous or disruptive land uses like factories and noisy clubs from being built near homes.

Zoning also has a major impact on housing affordability. Because zoning allows for certain development types and densities on a lot of land, it can potentially restrict the number of homes that can be built in a city. It’s, therefore, crucial to update the zoning regulations periodically to respond to the changing needs of the city.

Zoning laws govern what property owners do with their land in several ways by specifying:

  • What types of land uses are appropriate to be built in a given area
  • The density or intensity of those uses
  • The shape, size, height, and layout of buildings
  • Other related factors, like parking, accessory buildings, and landscaping

What is changing in Bakersfield’s Zoning Code?

Bakersfield is currently updating its Housing Element to meet State requirements and allow for additional housing options. Parallel to this effort, the City is making several important changes to its Zoning Code to bring it into alignment with the updated Housing Element and incorporate recent State requirements. Key changes to the Zoning Code include:

  • Giving property owners more freedom to build more homes in key high-opportunity areas
  • Making it easier for homes, jobs centers, and services to be built within walking or biking distance of each other
  • Reducing the time it takes for the City to approve housing development that meets certain affordability requirements
  • Giving property owners more freedom to decide how much parking is needed for their residential buildings
  • Changing laws to comply with new State requirements that are intended to make it less expensive to build housing, easier to convert struggling malls and offices to new homes, and to build housing near transit centers
  • Including objective design standards for residential development to ensure the look and feel of housing meets the goals of the Bakersfield community

What do these changes mean for residents?

  • If you own land that is identified for change in the Zoning Code update, you may have more flexibility on what you can do with your property.
  • Over the coming years, you may see more and better housing opportunities as new projects are completed over the coming years.
  • If you plan to build housing in Bakersfield, the process will be more streamlined and easy to understand.

    How do I submit a question or comment?

    The City of Bakersfield wants to hear from you on how best to implement these changes. To get involved, please visit our Get Involved page.