Economic Impact Review and Store Size Cap – Mt. Shasta, CA

In March 2005, the City Council of Mount Shasta, California, voted 3-2 to enact the following ordinance, which caps stores at 50,000 square feet and requires proposals for stores over 20,000 square feet to undergo an economic impact review and obtain a conditional use permit.

Mount Shasta is town of 3,600 people near the state’s northern border.  The surrounding county, Siskiyou, has a population of 44,000.

The process began a year earlier and included work by a committee to produce an initial draft and two public hearings.

Theordinance outlines several intentions behind the restrictions, including to ensure that new development is compatible with Mt. Shasta’s “scale and sense of place,” “facilitate. . . a pedestrian-scale environment,” “encourage mixed-use development,” and”promote efficient use of land.”

The ordinance limits stores to no more than 50,000 square feet, which is twice as large as the largest existing building in town and about one-quarter of the size of an average Wal-Mart supercenter.

Itrequires stores over 20,000 square feet to comply with a range of architectural and site design standards aimed a making new development humanly scaled; to undergo a traffic analysis; and to undergo an economic impact study that would examine the store’s impact on the downtown.  The Planning Commission may issue a special permit for the development only after reviewing these analyses and determining that the store will be a net benefit to the community and compatible with its surroundings.




The City Council of the City of Mt. Shasta does ordain as follows:

Chapter18.70 – Sections 18.70.010 – 18.70.150 are added to Title 18, Zoning, of the Mt. Shasta Municipal Code to read as follows:

Chapter 18.70 Size Restrictions for Large Scale Commercial, Industrial and Multi-family Residential Facilities


18.70-010 General Provisions

18.70.020 Purpose and Intent

18.70.025 Definitions

18-70.030 Large Scale Development Provisional Permit Required

18.70.040 Gross Floor Area Limitations

18.70.050 Exemptions

18.70.060 Provisional Permit

18.70.070 Criteria

18.70.080 Standards

18.70.090 Reserved

18.70.100 Glare

18.70.110 Traffic Impacts

18.70.120 Outdoor Lighting

18-70.130 Additional Architectural and Site Design Standards

18.70.140 Economic Impact Analysis Required

18.70.150 Reuse of Site

18.70.010 General Provisions. This Chapter applies to large scale commercial, industrial and multi-family residential development 

18.70.020 Purpose and Intent. The purpose of this section is:

1.   To break up the apparent mass and scale of “large scale” commercial, industrial, and multi-family residential structures and development in order to ensure that such structures and development are compatible with Mt. Shasta’s Mountain Theme Design principles, scale, and sense of place.

2.    To insure that large scale commercial, industrial and multi-family developments are harmoniously integrated with their surroundings.

3.    To promote and facilitate a safe and comfortable pedestrian scale environment.

4.    To preserve and enhance the night sky for the enjoyment of a pristine nighttime environment, free from light pollution.

5.    To encourage a mixture of uses and sizes of structures.

6.    To protect existing residential areas and adjacent neighborhoods from encroachment of commercial land use.

7.   To encourage mixed-use development opportunities to promote combined residential, retail, employment and entertainment centers within the area.

8.    To encourage excellence in urban design and improvement in overall City appearance.

9.   To encourage development that produces a desirable relationship between buildings and the pedestrian and vehicular circulation systems and between such development and adjacent land uses.

10.To establish specific standards for coordination of landscaping and street trees along public rights-of-way, public pedestrian ways and buffers between dissimilar uses.

11. To promote efficient use of land.

12. To encourage quality of development and enhance the wholeness of the City’s economic base.

18.70. 025 Definitions

1.”Gross Floor Area” The sum of the areas of the several floors of the building, including basements, cellars, mezzanine and intermediate floored tiers and penthouses of headroom height, measured from the exterior faces of exterior walls or from the center line of walls separating buildings, but excluding: 1. covered walkways, open roofed-over areas, porches and similar spaces. 2. pipe trenches, exterior terraces or steps, chimneys, roof overhangs and similar features.

2. Human Scale Building elements bearing a definite relationship to the human in dimension; a component that the human can associate with directly. The relationship between the dimensions of the human body and the proportion of the spaces which people use.

Human scale design typically reflects the elements listed below:

a) Buildings that avoid long, monotonous, uninterrupted walls or roof planes. Blank, windowless walls are generally avoided along street frontages. Where solid walls are required by building codes, the wall should be articulated by the provision of blank window openings trimmed with frames, sills, lintels, or if the building is occupied by a commercial use, by using recessed or projecting display window cases;

b) Structures that incorporate awnings or arcades,

18.70.030 Large Scale Development-Provisional Permit Required.

Anycommercial, industrial or multi-family development in which any individual buildings exceed 20,000 GFA shall be considered “large scale” for purposes of this section. Such large scale commercial, industrial or multi-family development shall proceed only in the event of discretionary approval of a provisional permit, pursuant to Section 18.70.060.

18.70.040 Gross Floor Area Limitations.

Individualbuildings in a large scale development shall each be restricted to the maximum gross floor area (GFA) of 50,000 square feet.

Thereis no limit on the number of buildings nor upon the cumulative GFA located on a single lot or tract provided that each building individually complies with this section and all other requirements of this Code.

Individual buildings shall not be linked by exclusive use passageways that have the effect of combining the structures into a single operating facility. Buildings which are separated by a minimum of twenty (20) feet, but connected solely by exterior pedestrian walkways that are open-sided and designed and used solely as publicly accessible pedestrian passageways, are to be considered separate buildings for purposes of this section. Such pedestrian passageways shall not be used for commercial purposes and shall be excluded from the calculation of GFA under this section.

18.70.050 Exemptions.

Thefollowing special uses are exempt from the Gross Floor Area (GFA)limitations of Section 18.70.040, however these facilities, if larger than 20,000 square feet GFA are not exempt from the review requirements for provisional permits as set forth in section 18.70.060:

1). Hospitals

2). Public buildings owned by a governmental entity, including those of the City, which are operated for educational, governmental or other public purposes, including the necessary facilities and equipment to insure proper operation thereof;

3) Conference or convention facility

4) Independent and Assisted Living Facilities

18.70.060 Provisional Permit

Developmentof a large scale industrial, commercial or multi-family project in which the GFA of any building exceeds 20,000 square feet is contingent upon Planning Commission approval of a provisional permit. The maximum GFA allowed by a provisional permit shall not be increased.

18.70.070 Criteria. The criteria outlined below shall be used by the Planning Commission for evaluation of any such application for provisional permit:

A.   The development is compatible with the uses in the general vicinity; and the development is harmoniously integrated with its surroundings.

B.   The existing and proposed on-site and off-site infrastructure(including but not limited to water, sewer, drainage, traffic controls, circulation and other public services and utilities) will support the size of the building and development.

C.    The health, safety, and welfare of the City are maintained.

D.The architecture and site design of the development meets the architectural design and site planning standards of the Mountain Village Theme Guidelines and the purpose and intent of this section.

E.   Where any building exceeds a GFA of 20,000 square feet the minimum spacing between such building and any other building on the site shall be twenty feet (20′). This spacing requirement shall be enforced regardless of building configuration or arrangement. The intent of this minimum spacing requirement is that the outdoor spaces created between the buildings should have pleasant proportions which achieve a human scale. Arranging multiple structures around courtyards is encouraged.

F.     Compliance with all other requirements of the Municipal Code.

18.70.080     Standards for Commercial and Industrial Structures and for “Large Scale” Development

A.    The architectural design and site planning standards established by this section shall be mandatory for:

(1) All new construction of commercial and industrial structures requiring a provisional permit under Section 18.70.030.

(2) New “large scale” construction or development within any zoning district. For purpose of this section, large scale construction or development is new construction of any building or buildings, including residential or special use buildings, which are located on a single parcel and which building(s), individually or cumulatively, exceed(s) 20,000 square feet of gross floor area.

B. As used in this section, the term “new construction” includes the design or construction of new buildings or additions to existing structures.

C.   The architectural style of new construction shall be the “Mountain Village Theme” pursuant to Chapter 18.60 of the Municipal Code.

D.   Facades of buildings shall be visually broken up with mature landscaping, recesses, portolas, court yards or other design features which add texture and humanize the scale of the structure (s).

E.   Mechanical equipment shall be screened to mitigate noise and views from all sides. If roof-mounted, the screen shall be designed to conform architecturally to the design of the building either with varying roof planes or with parapet walls. A wood fence or similar treatment is not acceptable.

F.     A human scale shall be achieved near ground level on larger buildings and along street facades and entryways through the use of elements such as portolas, windows, doors, columns and beams. Portolas should provide a transition between the outside street and the building interior.

G.    All sites shall have at least five percent landscaping in addition to any required buffer zones discussed below. Landscaping shall be dispersed throughout the parking lot as well as other required locations.

H.   In parking lots, such landscaping should consist of the proper mixture of trees and shrubs so that all of the landscaped areas will be covered in five years by a ground cover or by shrubs and shaded by the trees.

1.   A minimum of 10′ in width of landscaping should be placed for screening from public right of ways and shall be planted with a combination of trees, shrubs and groundcovers. One street tree per 30-feet of street frontage shall be required on all projects.

J.    In addition to other required landscaping, a landscape buffer 30-feet in width shall be provided adjacent to the site property line where it adjoins residential zones. The landscape buffer shall include canopy trees of at least 30-foot intervals to provide noise, light, and visual screening. No other uses, such as, but not limited to, parking or, storage, are permitted within the landscape buffer area, except for snow storage.

K.    If planters are used for trees, Minimum planter size shall be 50 square feet, with a minimum dimension of six feet for one side.

All landscaped areas shall be irrigated or shall be certified that they can be maintained and survive without artificial irrigation. If the plantings fail to survive, the property owner shall replace them. All landscaping will be maintained throughout the site.

18.70. 100 Glare. Reflected glare onto nearby buildings, streets or pedestrian areas is prohibited. Lighting shall be full cut-off fixtures and downward facing and no direct light shall bleed onto adjacent properties.

18.70.110 Traffic impacts. The applicant shall have a traffic impact analysis prepared licensed traffic engineer. In addition to the general standards of the methodology, the traffic impact analysis shall include weekend traffic generation and impact analysis and recommendations for mitigating potential impacts to the circulation system.

18.70.120 Outdoor Lighting. Lighting shall be full cut-off fixtures and downward facing and no direct light shall bleed onto adjacent properties. The applicant must provide an outdoor lighting report which provides information on how outdoor lighting will be accomplished to minimize impacts on adjacent properties or roadways.

To minimize any indirect overflow of light on adjacent properties, the height of any proposed parking lot light standard should be as short as possible and should stair step down to a lower height when close to residential uses or residentially used properties.

The applicant shall submit to the Planning Department sufficient information, in the form of an overall exterior lighting plan, to enable the City to determine that the applicable provisions will be satisfied. The exterior lighting plan shall include at least the following:

(a) Manufacturer specification sheets, cut-sheets or other manufacturer provided information for all proposed lighting fixtures.

(b) The proposed location, mounting height, and aiming point of all exterior lighting fixtures.

(c) If building elevations are proposed for illumination, drawings shall be provided for all relevant building elevations showing the fixtures, the portions of the elevations to be illuminated, the illuminance levels of the elevations, and the aiming point for any remote light fixture.

(d) To review proposed exterior lighting installations, the applicant shall supply the following information:

(1) A brief written narrative, with accompanying plan or sketch, which demonstrates the objectives of the lighting.

(2) Photometric data, Color Rendering Index (CRI) of all lamps (bulbs), and other descriptive information on the fixtures, and if applicable or required, designation as Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) “cut-off ‘fixtures.

(3) Computer generated photometric grid showing footcandle readings every 10 feet within the property or site, and 10 feet beyond the property lines at a scale specified by the Planning Department. Iso-footcandle contour line style plans are also acceptable.

(4) Relative landscaping information that indicates mature tree size, shrubbery and other vegetation in order to evaluate the long-term and seasonal effectiveness of lighting or screening of lighting.

18.70.130 Additional Architectural & Site Design Standards

Allnew construction within the coverage of subsections 18.70.030 et seq, above, shall comply with the following additional architectural and site design standards:

A.    Architectural Unity. All buildings on the same site shall be architecturally unified. This provision shall apply to new construction, additions and remodeling. Architectural unity means that buildings shall be related in architectural style, color scheme, and building materials.

B.    Site and Contextual Planning. All projects shall comply with the following site design requirements:

(1) Integration into the street network.

(a) Vehicular access to the site shall be from streets other than an arterial wherever possible. However, if it is determined that vehicular access will be from an arterial, limitation of ingress and egress to the site by right turns only may also be considered.

(b) Delivery vehicles shall not access the site from sub-collector or smaller streets serving residential neighborhoods.

(c) Internal and new streets shall connect to existing streets or be designed to facilitate future connections to the maximum extent possible.

(2) Pedestrian circulation and amenities

(a) A safe pedestrian circulation system shall be provided on site which connects to public streets and neighborhoods, where possible.

(b) Pedestrian walkways within the development shall be differentiated from driving surfaces through a change in materials.

(3) Parking and vehicular circulation:

(a) Large scale development should recognize parking facilities as transitional spaces where users change modes of travel, from car, bus, or bicycle to pedestrian. The design of those spaces shall therefore safely and attractively serve all modes, especially the pedestrian.

(b) Parking requirements shall meet the standards of Chapter 15.44 of the City of Mt. Shasta Municipal Code.

(4) Outdoor storage, trash collection, loading and service areas:

(a) Except for plant nurseries, building supply yards, automobile and mobile home sales lots and similar uses or as specified in the Outdoor Merchandise Display Ordinance, outdoor storage of products and goods is prohibited.

(b) Trash collection, service and loading areas shall not be located adjacent to residential property. Such areas as may impact residential areas shall include a solid acoustic buffer.

(c) Areas for trash collection, service and loading shall be incorporated into the primary building design and construction for these areas shall be of materials of comparable quality and appearance as that of the primary building. Visual and acoustic impacts of these functions shall be mitigated to the greatest extent possible.

(5) Public Street Frontage. Along any public street frontage the building design should include windows, arcades, awnings or other acceptable features along at least 60 percent of the building length. Arcades and other weather protection features shall be of sufficient depth and height to provide a light-filled and open space along the building frontage. Architectural treatment, similar to that provided to the front facade shall be provided to the sides and rear of the building to mitigate any negative view from any location off-site and any public area (e.g. parking lots, walkways, etc.) on site.

(6)   Delivery and Loading Spaces. Delivery and loading operations shall be designed and located to mitigate visual and noise impacts to adjoining residential neighborhoods. If there is a residential use or residentially zoned adjacent to the site, such operations shall not be permitted between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. For good cause shown, the Planning Commission may permit deliveries at additional times provided the applicant submits evidence that sound barriers between all areas for such operations effectively reduce emissions to a level of 55 dB or less as measured at the lot line of any adjoining property. Delivery and loading areas shall be substantially set back from a residential use or residentially zoned property that is adjacent to that site. A landscape buffer of at least 30-feet in width shall be provided adjacent to the delivery and loading area where it adjoins residential uses or zones. The landscape buffer shall include evergreen shrubs and/or trees plus deciduous canopy trees at regular intervals to provide noise, light, and visual screening. If the delivery and loading spaces are located within an enclosed building or underground, no such set back and buffer area shall be required.

(7) Ancillary Uses. The applicant must demonstrate that any ancillary uses such as tire shops or snack bars will not have negative impacts on adjacent residential uses, residentially zoned properties, or adjacent properties. Amy ancillary use must be oriented to face away from any residential use or residentially zoned property that is adjacent to the site.

18.70.140 Economic Impact Analysis Required

An economic impact analysis shall be conducted for any retail use with a Gross Floor Area 20,000 square feet or larger.

Inorder to ensure that the economic impact analysis is objective, and meets the needs of the City of Mt. Shasta in evaluating the proposed use, the firm (s) conducting the study shall be under contract to the City of Mt. Shasta and funded by the developer.

At a minimum the economic impact analysis shall contain:

a)    A comprehensive list of assumptions used in completing the study.

b)   A description of the market area for the proposed use, which shall include the City and the unincorporated areas as well as other communities and Southern Siskiyou County

c)    A characterization of the market leakage and potential within the defined market area for the proposed retail use.

d)    A description of similar retail uses within the defined market area.

e)    An evaluation of the potential physical impacts on the central business district.

A public hearing shall be conducted to evaluate the focus of the economic impact analysis including:

a.A draft of the significant assumptions for the project shall be presented to the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission can amend the assumptions and direct the focus of the study.

18.70.150 Reuse of Site

Applicantsshall submit a proposal addressing plans for the reuse of the site in the case that the applicant abandons interest of the large scale building. The plan shall include design features that demonstrate availability of flexible features such as partitions and multiple or multiple entryways to facilitate reuse by multiple tenants if the building is abandoned. The plan for reuse shall be reviewed and adopted by the Planning Commission.

IT IS HEREBY CERTIFIED that the foregoing Ordinance was read by title only, by the City Council of the City of Mt. Shasta at a regular meeting of said Council on March 14, 2005 and was duly adopted, by title only, by said Council at a Regular City Council Meeting held this 28th day of March by the following vote:

AYES: Council Members Stearns, Zapffe and Valenzuela

NOES: Council Member Porterfield and Mayor Meyer



DATED: March 28, 2005


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Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which produces research and designs policy to counter concentrated corporate power and strengthen local economies.