Brief: Overlay zones place additional development standards, design criteria, or other use requirements onto existing zoning designations.

Description: Overlay zones may come in the form of various land uses and may include affordable housing overlay zones, high density overlay zones, senior housing zones, historic districts, or various protective zones, among others. The overlay may change requirements for development, such as mandating particular design features, or requiring that certain uses be sited within various proximities to public amenities such as schools, parks or libraries. Overlay zones are primarily intended by a municipality to promote a certain type of use or development. New development or redevelopment within an overlay zone will be subsequent to the rules and restrictions of the overlay zoning. The new overlay zone may alter parking regulations or setback and height requirements to achieve the desired design, use, or intensity outcome as desired by the city.

City of Anaheim, Anaheim, CA – “The Platinum Triangle” Mixed Use Overlay Zone
The City of Anaheim created a mixed use overlay zone encompassing 120 acres located near the city’s Anaheim Stadium. The overlay zoning allowed land owners to continue operating with the existing zoning or to seek investment from a builder who could now be granted the opportunity to redevelop parcels at higher densities and added residential components. The zone afforded the city to guide development with minimal regulation. The zone only required certain design standards and principles for new buildings but left developers with discretionary decision making authority to utilize the land for their own highest and best use determination pursuant to the new overlay zoning allowances.

City of Anaheim, CA – Affordable Family Housing Overlay
Anaheim has a city-wide municipal ordinance providing increased development standards in exchange for the dedication of 20% of new proposed units to be affordable at the very low income level.

County of Orange – Housing Opportunities Overlay
The County of Orange allows residential development on underutilized commercial or industrial sites within unincorporated areas if the development’s units are all allocated as affordable units at the low income level.