The City of San Marino's Unique Zoning Code

By
Real Estate Agent with Meridian Capital Real Estate BRE# 01435250
The primary goal of San Marino's unique zoning code is to preserve it's residential charm and to limit commercial expansion.
 
San Marino is an affluent residential city nestled within Los Angeles County that prioritizes the preservation of its exclusive residential character. The city's zoning regulations have been meticulously crafted to disallow multifamily structures and restrict commercial development, fostering a distinctive ambiance that sets it apart from neighboring areas.

The zoning code finds its roots in the city's historical development and evolution. Founded in the late 19th century, the city was initially established as a suburban retreat for wealthy individuals seeking a peaceful residential enclave away from the urban hustle and bustle. Over the decades, this identity has been preserved through zoning regulations that prioritize single-family homes. One of the defining aspects of San Marino's zoning code is its unwavering emphasis on single-family homes. The majority of the city is zoned exclusively for detached, single-family dwellings. This deliberate zoning strategy ensures that the community retains its serene and affluent character, with spacious, well-maintained homes gracing the streets.

However, San Marino's zoning code goes a step further by explicitly disallowing multifamily structures. This policy discourages high-density development and helps maintain the neighborhood's quiet and exclusive atmosphere. The absence of multifamily units limits population density and traffic congestion, contributing to a more tranquil living experience for its residents.
 
Another notable aspect of San Marino's zoning code is the stringent control over commercial development. The city has designated specific areas for commercial use, but these zones are minimal compared to the overall land area and are focused primarily along Huntington Dr which was the former main artery for the historic Red Car train line in the early 1900's. This deliberate limitation on commercial expansion helps preserve the residential aesthetic while still offering essential amenities to residents within a reasonable distance. Additionally neighboring cities like Pasadena, South Pasadena and Alhambra also provide San Marino residents with good access to shopping, dining and other commercial options.
 
Beyond the prohibition of multifamily structures and limited commercial development, San Marino's zoning code often includes aesthetic guidelines to ensure architectural harmony and consistency. These guidelines may dictate elements like building design, landscaping, and other aesthetic features, further enhancing the city's exclusive character and overall visual appeal.
While the zoning code is praised for preserving San Marino's unique charm, it's not without its challenges. Balancing residential preservation with the need for sustainable growth and accommodating population changes can be a delicate task. Striking the right balance between retaining the city's essence and adapting to evolving needs remains an ongoing challenge for policymakers and the community alike. Love it or hate it this has provided and maintained the city with a unique appearance, function and culture.
 
San Marino's distinctive zoning code, marked by its aversion to multifamily structures and limited commercial development, stands as a testament to the city's commitment to preserving its affluent residential character. This unique approach has successfully maintained the city's allure, attracting residents seeking a peaceful and exclusive living environment. However, ongoing efforts are needed to ensure the continued harmony between preservation and adaptability as the city navigates the future. As the state of California faces on an ongoing housing shortage and the state assembly passes a flurry of bills that require cities to allow for the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADU's) it will be interesting to see how cities like San Marino (and others) work to preserve it's unique housing stock. The median home price for a single family home in San Marino is currently in the neighborhood of $2.5M. The top rated schools, exclusivity and unique neighborhood texture provided by these zoning laws are the core attributes to this eye popping median home price and what people expect to get when paying that kind of price tag. As we enter into this new era of state designed housing density, San Marino and cities like it will be required to navigate truly uncharted waters.

Comments (1)

Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em: golfArizona@cox.net

Tight control of commercial growth could backfire. Have a super fantastic week!

Bill Salvatore, Realtor- Arizona Elite Properties

Oct 11, 2023 12:02 PM