Emergency Shelter & Transitional Housing Zoning Update

The City of Oakland updated its Planning Code on July 15, 2014 to comply with California State Law Senate Bill 2, 2007, (SB 2). SB 2 requires cities to permit emergency shelters in at least one zoning district without a conditional use permit or other discretionary action. City staff worked with stakeholders and the public to develop policy options related to appropriate locations in Oakland for emergency shelters. Emergency shelter performance and development standards were also collaboratively developed.


SB 2 is a state law intended to strengthen existing housing element requirements to provide for the development of emergency shelters and transitional and supportive housing. Under SB 2, all cities must identify a zone that allows emergency shelters as a permitted use. The identified zone(s) shall include sufficient capacity to accommodate the need and regardless of the need, each City must have a zone to outright permit year-round emergency shelters. Additionally, SB 2 specifies that transitional housing and supportive housing shall be considered a residential use of the property, and subject only to those restrictions that apply to other residential uses in the same zone.

To meet the requirements of SB 2, the City of Oakland will be updating the Zoning Code to permit emergency shelters in at least one zone without a conditional use permit or other discretionary permit, and adopting related development standards. Additionally, the City will be modifying the definitions for transitional and supportive housing. A stakeholder group of homeless and social service providers has been established to develop draft proposals with City staff. All proposals will be vetted by the public. Compliance with SB 2 is a requirement of the 2007-2014 City of Oakland General Plan Housing Element. The Housing Element is one of seven mandated elements of the Oakland General Plan; state law requires every jurisdiction to update its Housing Element every five years. The preparation of the 2014-2022 Housing Element update is now underway; however, the SB 2 zoning update must be adopted prior to adopting the next Housing Element update. Without a state-adopted Housing Element, the City may lose out on certain grant funding which the state has set aside for jurisdictions with adopted Housing Elements.