Sign up for our newsletter.

Atlanta TDR Margaret Mitchell House 9490 WestLampeter San-Diego-Receiving-Zone South-Street-Seaport-154 San-Francisco-Actual-Certified-Sending-Site-635-Pine jefferson West_Hempfield HistoricDowntown

Livermore, California

Livermore, population 73,345 (2000), lies 40 miles east of Oakland in eastern Alameda County. The City prides itself on being the center of the first wine-producing region in California. To maintain its agricultural heritage and industry, the City adopted and implemented the South Livermore Specific Plan, which allows residential construction on the southern edge of the city to developers who improve, cultivate and preserve vineyards south of the Urban Growth Boundary. The Specific Plan also includes a TDR component for one planning sub-area. In that sub-area, sending area property owners can dedicate land for the expansion of a regional park and the restoration of an old winery into an interpretive center. The plan allocates 175 TDRs to the sending area. Of this total, 23 TDRs were transferred to the City to mitigate environmental impacts and offset the administration costs of the TDR program. The landowner was allowed to transfer the 152 remaining TDRs to a receiving area outside the Specific Plan boundaries. As of July 2003, approximately 60 percent of these TDRs had been transferred.

Livermore, California adopted a TDC Ordinance to preserve farmland and open space in an adjacent area currently under the jurisdiction of Alameda County.

In December 2002, the Livermore City Council adopted the North Livermore Urban Growth Boundary Initiative. North Livermore includes almost 14,000 acres north of the City’s Urban Growth Boundary and south of the Alameda-Contra Costa county border. The Initiative was designed to protect the agricultural land and open space of North Livermore in order to maintain agriculture, preserve natural areas, prevent sprawl, reduce environmental impacts and generally safeguard the special identity, heritage and character of Livermore. The Initiative spelled out special uses and development regulations that would apply to properties that subsequently are annexed to the City. However, the Initiative also included a TDC provision that landowners could elect to use regardless of whether they annexed to the City or remained under the jurisdiction of Alameda County.

The Initiative established all of North Livermore as the TDC sending area and allowed landowners the following TDC allocation options based on their desired level of voluntary participation.

  • One TDC per five acres to landowners who record easements that permanently impose on their properties the use/development restrictions of the Initiative including minimum lot sizes of 40 or 100 acres.
  • Eleven TDCs for each lot voluntarily foregone that would have been allowed by the Initiative.
  • Ten credits for each undeveloped lot that an owner deed restricts to remain permanently undeveloped.
  • Twelve credits for each existing dwelling unit removed from a parcel and recordation of an easement permanently restricting development of the parcel.

The Initiative did not create receiving sites itself but rather required the City to find a use for the credits created through any of the four options listed above. In response, the 2003 General Plan Update stipulated that TDCs are required in order to exceed baseline density on any parcel where the General Plan Update or any subsequent general plan amendments result in new residential land use designations or an increase in residential density. The 2003 General Plan also specified that the baseline density is equal to the maximum density allowed prior to the 2003 General Plan Update or any subsequent general plan amendments that result in new residential land use designations or an increase in residential density.

Livermore’s TDC Ordinance, adopted in 2004, reiterated the sending area provisions from the 2002 Initiative and implemented the receiving area policies adopted in the 2003 General Plan Update. Receiving area zoning could be any of three varieties: 1) a Planned Development, 2) a newly-adopted zone incorporating TDC baselines and densities bonuses and 3) a TDC combining district. In the combining district option, developers who choose not to exceed baseline density must follow the development regulations that apply within the zoning district corresponding to the baseline classification of the TDC receiving area general plan designation. Alternatively, developers who elect to use the TDC option must comply with all use and development regulations that apply within the zoning district corresponding to the TDC receiving area general plan designation as well as all other requirements of the TDC Ordinance. The most significant of these requirements involve submission of TDCs or in lieu fees as follows.

(1) Two TDCs for each single-family detached dwelling in excess of baseline density (or one TDC for each single-family detached dwelling in excess of baseline density for developments with applications accepted as complete prior to January 26, 2004); and

(2) One-half TDC for each multifamily attached dwelling in excess of baseline density; or

(3) Payment of the TDC in lieu fee for each required TDC. (Revenues from TDC in lieu fees must be used for the acquisition of TDCs from North Livermore. Other than TDC acquisition, revenue from TDC in lieu fees can only be used for costs incurred in administering the TDC program.)

In addition to density bonus, the Livermore TDC Ordinance offers a second incentive to use TDCs in conjunction with its Housing Implementation Program or HIP. Under HIP, the number of dwelling units issued building permits each year is limited to maintain the City’s desired growth rate. However, dwelling units that promote important City goals are allocated a specified number of these limited building permits. In addition to dwelling units in the South Livermore and Downtown Specific Plan areas, the TDC Ordinance stated that HIP allocations would be granted for an annual average of 200 TDC-retiring units for ten years. There are two types of TDC-retiring units:

1. All housing units, (both within and in excess of baseline density), in developments approved to exceed baseline density in TDC receiving zones are TDC-retiring units and qualify for housing allocations.

2. Housing developments that do not need TDCs for density bonus qualify for housing allocations when the developer nevertheless submits

(a) Two TDCs for each single-family detached dwelling; and

(b) One-half TDC for each multifamily attached dwelling; or

(c) Payment of the TDC in lieu fee for each required TDC.

Finally, the Ordinance states that TDCs may be sold or purchased, or otherwise transferred or received, by any person including the City and other governmental entities. It also authorizes the City to buy TDCs using funding from settlement agreements, mitigation agreements, general fund, loans, grants and other sources appropriate for the acquisition of open space. In addition, the Ordinance allows the City to create a revolving fund in which the City purchases and resells TDCs.

As of early 2005, City staff was working with a local land trust on details regarding assistance in the implementation of the TDC program. Such assistance could include authorizing the non-profit organization, under City Council direction, to hold and enforce easements, acquire and sell TDCs, create a registry of interested buyers/sellers, maintain records of transactions and advise the City of needed program refinements.