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South Bay Digest

R. H. Estates : Building Rules Criticized

February 27, 1986

The City Council this week began looking at proposed changes in residential building regulations and heard some residents criticize the proposals as too restrictive, particularly on small lots, and detrimental to property values.

"The setbacks would prevent many from having second stories," William Bryan said at a public hearing. "They are too restrictive and will have a negative effect on resale."

The criticism prompted the council, at the suggestion of Councilman Warren Schwarzmann, to call for a staff study on the impact on smaller lots.

Proposed building code changes, which were recommended by the Planning Commission after public hearings, include a reduction in the two-story height limit--from 35 to 27 feet--and a change in setback regulations that will require an additional foot of setback for every foot of height above 14 feet. The changes are designed to reduce the bulk of buildings and preserve the views of neighbors.

"We want to prevent the walling of neighborhoods and the tunneling of side yards," said city Planning Director Stephen A. Emslie.

The recommended changes also would establish a Planning Department review procedure to assure that new structures and additions are compatible with neighborhoods. It would be the first time the city has had authority to regulate the scale and appearance of residential buildings.

Another public hearing will be held on March 11 and council members have indicated they would like to have code changes in effect within 90 days.

In another matter, the council approved a 10-month extension of a building moratorium that was imposed a month ago in the face of a neighborhood outcry over construction of two large metal storage buildings behind a home on Dapplegray Lane.

That project, which the city has halted indefinitely on grounds that a grading permit was violated and an illegal retaining wall constructed, has been cited as an example of why the city needs a procedure to ensure that buildings fit into neighborhoods. The moratorium would be lifted when the new building regulation becomes law.

Under the moratorium extension, people who had received zone approval for residential building projects--but had not received permits before the original moratorium--will be able to obtain permits if their projects do not conflict with new code proposals.

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