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Hermosa: Sweeping Zoning Changes

February 09, 1986

Proposed changes to the residential zoning code include:

- A reduction in the number of units allowed per acre in multiple-family (R3) and residential-professional (R-P) zones. Currently, 46 apartments or 40 condominiums are allowed per acre. Under the new provisions, 33 apartments or condominiums would be allowed.

Ironically, the density reductions would actually increase the number of condominiums permitted on some smaller lots in these zones because the new zoning ordinance reduces the minimum lot size for condominiums from 2,850 square feet to 2,640.

- A reduction in the number of apartments allowed on small lots in two-family (R-2) and limited multiple-family (R-2B) zones. Two apartments or condominiums would be allowed on a lot of at least 3,500 square feet. Under an amendment added to the proposed zoning changes last week, one additional unit would be allowed for each 1,750 square feet above 3,500. Current law allows a maximum of two apartments on lots 2,400 square feet or larger and a maximum of two condominiums on lots larger than 3,500 square feet.

- The elimination of a special "bonus" provision that allows up to 53 units per acre in multiple-family zones when certain criteria are met.

On Tuesday, the Hermosa Beach City Council is expected to give final approval to some of the most significant changes in the residential zoning code in 14 years.

City officials estimate that the changes, which would take effect April 1, could prevent the construction of thousands of apartments and condominiums in the city over the next few decades.

During the 1950s and 1960s, few restrictions were placed on new construction in areas zoned for two-family and multifamily housing, city officials said. Old zoning codes permitted as many as 72 units per acre on multifamily lots.

In 1972, the City Council slashed the allowable number of units to 46, and in 1979 further reduced the allowable number for condominiums on large lots to 40 per acre.

Residents, however, have been asking the city to do even more about overcrowding in the tiny beach city. With more than 18,000 residents crammed into 1.3 square miles, parking problems, traffic congestion and cramped neighborhoods have become a way of life.

But the proposed changes have not been welcomed by everyone.

Under the proposed zoning code, many owners of single-family houses on lots zoned for two-family or multifamily development no longer would be able to tear down their homes and build condominiums or apartments. Other homeowners would be able to build condominiums or apartments, but fewer than under the existing ordinance.

Below are the stories of two residents who have reacted quite differently to the proposed sweeping density reductions.


Allowable Densities: This chart shows what is allowed, and what would be allowed under a proposed city ordinance.

Two-family residential lots: R-2 and R-2B

There are 1,322 of these lots in the city

Lot Size (sq. ft.) Apts. Condos Apts. Condos 2400 2 0 0 0 2500 2 0 0 0 2700 2 0 0 0 3000 2 0 0 0 3500 2 2 2 2 4000 2 2 2 2 5250 2 3 3 3

Multi-family residential lots:

R-3 and R-P

There are 1,068 of these lots in the city

Lot Size (sq. ft.) Apts. Condos Apts. Condos 2400 2 0 0 0 2500 2 0 0 0 2700 2 0 2 2 3000 3 2 2 2 3600 3 2 2 2 4000 4 2 3 3 5280 5 4 4 4 8000 8 7 6 6

Footnotes: 1. The City Council has included a grandfather clause in the new ordinance that allows development under current standards if completed plans are submitted by April 1 and a building permit is obtained by Oct. 1.

2. A single family home can be built on any legal lot, regardless of its size or density restrictions.

Source: Hermosa Beach Planning Department

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