image: seal for the County of Yuba General Plan image: seal for the County of Yuba General Plan


Yuba County

  Development Code Update




About the Yuba County Development Code Update
Importance of Updating the Development Code | Frequently Asked Questions | Zoning 101



What is the Zoning Ordinance?


Zoning is a tool used by local governments to manage the physical development of land and the uses to which individual properties may be put.  Typically, zoning is used to protect existing uses from potential negative impacts of new uses, to guide growth, and to influence building form.


In California, the use and development of property are generally regulated by zoning laws (state and local). These laws are contained in a zoning code, zoning ordinance, development code, or similar code. Yuba County’s zoning regulations are located in its Zoning Ordinance consisting of Chapter 12 of the Yuba County Ordinance Code. In addition other regulations related to land development are included in Chapter 11: the Development Code (grading, subdivisions, mining, environmental protection, etc…).  A zoning map divides the County into various zoning districts, and text is included in the Zoning Ordinance that establishes the regulations associated with each district.


The Zoning Ordinance acts as an implementation tool for the land uses and policies established by the County’s General Plan.  The County adopted a comprehensive update to its General Plan in June 2011 (2030 General Plan).  While the 2030 General Plan presents a broad vision and policies for the County, the Zoning Ordinance designates permitted uses and provides specific development standards and regulations for various uses on individual parcels. Zoning regulations affect land use, design, parcel size, building heights, density, setbacks, landscaping, fencing, and other aspects of property use. For example, the Zoning Ordinance specifies how tall commercial buildings can be or how far houses should be set back from the street.


What is the Development Code Update?


Many of the problems with the current regulations are those that you would expect from a 30 year old document.  Concepts like parking standards and antenna regulations are based on 1980s technology, and sustainable development and renewable energy had not even been envisioned.  For several years, the County has seen a steady increase in the number of text amendments to address issues such as allowing a health club in a commercial zone district, solar panels on residential homes, and standards for bicycle parking to name a few.


The countless amendments to the ordinance over the last 30 years have served to keep the regulations somewhat relevant.  However, piling amendment on top of amendment over the years has problems of its own as it is very difficult to cross-reference interwoven sections and prevent unintended consequences.  For example, the terms: food markets, food stores, and food and beverage sales are used in different parts of the Zoning Ordinance.  Are these the same use or different uses altogether?  Since there is not a clear definition or use classification system included in the Zoning Ordinance it is sometimes difficult to determine.

In addition, since some of the land use regulations are located in Chapter 11 of the County Code ( Development Code) and Chapter 12 (Zoning Ordinance, there are instances where information is needlessly repeated or in some cases seem in conflict with each other.  All of these issues have led to the recognition that an overhaul is needed. 


An update of the Yuba County Zoning Ordinance and Development Code (herein referred to as the Development Code) was initiated by the Board of Supervisors in the fall of 2011, with the goal of reflecting the County’s current General Plan vision (adopted in June 2011) to ensure consistency between the two documents.


The new Development Code will also respond to contemporary planning and zoning best practices, ensure compliance with applicable federal and State laws, introduce additional flexibility in some areas or more certainty in others, and be easy to use and understood by all users. This will enable expedited service to residents, businesses, property owners, and developers.


Why is the Development Code Update important to me?


Some of the County’s existing zoning regulations are dated, cumbersome, and don’t reflect current objectives and needs. An updated Development Code will add clarity and certainty, as well as be easier for residents, business owners, property owners, developers, staff and decision makers to use and understand. This will enable us to expedite service to you. An updated Development Code will also help make the Yuba County General Plan vision a reality by preserving existing neighborhoods and protecting agricultural operations, while allowing new businesses and job growth. In addition, overall development quality, design, and review processes in Yuba County will be enhanced with updated regulations.