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Design & Engineering Standards - Housing


Healthy Housing
Designs & Engineering Standards


Design or engineering standards to encourage the production of new, affordable housing:

  • Offer developers a range of measures to reduce the cost of construction (“cost offsets”) to achieve a double bottom line: affordable housing for residents and a reasonable, overall return for developers. Measures to reduce the cost of construction can include: [i]
  • Increase housing density to help incentivize developers to utilize the state density bonuses to build affordable housing units.
  • Eliminate parking minimums or reduce the number of parking spaces per household by unbundling the sale of parking from the sale of housing units.[ii] For more information visit Home for All:
  • Implement curbside management program to make clear the expectation that transit is a priority in street design:
  • Adopt an Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, which allows for the conversion of commercial buildings to new uses including apartments, condos, live/work lofts, retail and hotels.
  • Create large units for families, ADA accessible units or housing that is culturally appropriate for current residents to live in to help ensure that vulnerable residents are able to stay in an area.
  • Require below market rate units to come in a mix of sizes/number of bedrooms to address the need for affordable housing for different household types (e.g., at least 25% of below market rate (BMR) units have 2-bedroom and at least 25% have 3 or more bedrooms). [iii]


Design and engineering standards to encourage the preservation of the existing affordable housing stock:


Design and engineering policies to place housing near transit, jobs, and other amenities and away from sources of pollution and risk areas:

  • Conduct Vulnerabilities Assessment to inform the location and design of the development to adapt and mitigate climate change impacts.t.[iv]
  • To reduce exposure to air pollution exposure, incorporate well-maintained green space, plantings, and permeable surface areas; and require installation of on-site air filtration systems in areas of high exposure.[v]
  • Require installation of on-site air monitoring equipment in residential developments located in Disadvantaged Communities (DACs) to measure air contaminants and provide monitoring results to residents or users on a regular basis. [vi]
  • Encourage affordable housing developers to use a Health Action Plan framework to integrate health into the design and development or rehabilitation of their housing. To learn more visit: Enterprise Community Partners.
  • Use Aging in Place Design Guidelines to select the appropriate sites for building affordable housing that will allow residents the flexibility to age in their current home and remain a vibrant part of the community.


[i] PolicyLink, “Inclusionary Zoning,” June 2003.
[ii] “Healthy Development Checklist.”
[iii] “Healthy Development Checklist.”
[iv] Enterprise Green Communities, “2015 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria”, accessed January 25, 2018
[v] California Environmental Justice Alliance and PlaceWorks, “SB 1000 Implementation Toolkit Planning for Healthy Communities,” October 2017.
[vi] California Environmental Justice Alliance and PlaceWorks.