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TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL
FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: FEBRUARY 3, 2004
SUBJECT: THE APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS TO THE RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS AD HOC STEERING COMMITTEE.
Staff Coordinator: Ara Michael Mihranian, Senior Planner
Agree on the membership criteria and scope of work of the Residential Development Standards Committee.
On February 8, 2003, a Joint Workshop was held between the City Council and the Planning Commission at which time the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee presented its recommended amendments to the existing Neighborhood Compatibility review process. At the same time, the Committee informed the Council that during its review, sections were identified within the Development Code’s Residential Development Standards that warranted further review and updating. In fact, the Committee recommended that the Council consider establishing another committee to review the City’s residential development standards, particularly the lot density, lot coverage, and setback standards. The Committee indicated that they felt the Code’s current standards were drafted at a time when residential construction resulted in structures that are significantly different from the type of structures being constructed today. Therefore, the Committee felt that the Council should eventually consider amending specific sections of the residential development standards.
In response to the Committee’s recommendation, on June 3, 2003 the Council agreed to form a new committee to review the City’s current residential development standards. At that time, the Council agreed that the formation of the new committee should follow suit with the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee and should be comprised of two council members, two planning commissioners and five community
representatives. The Council then directed Staff to come back at a later date with an agenda item regarding the committee member selection process. On December 16, 2003, the Council appointed newly elected Councilman Long and Councilman Wolowicz as Council representatives to the Residential Development Standards Committee.
After interviewing fourteen applicants, on January 20, 2004, the Council appointed five new members to the Planning Commission. During the appointment of the new commissioners, Mayor Pro Tem Clark requested that an item be placed on a future Council agenda to consider inviting some of the applicants not selected for the Planning Commission to serve on the Residential Development Standards Committee. Therefore, in response to Mayor Pro Tem Clark’s suggestion, this item is before the Council this evening.
Selection of Committee Members
The Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee was comprised of nine members, five of whom were members of the Council of Homeowner’s Association. At the February 8, 2003 joint workshop, the Council and the Planning Commission noted that the composition of this Committee proved to be quite successful because it provided City officials with greater insight on citywide issues. As a result of the Committee’s success, the Council had previously agreed that the new Residential Development Standards Committee should follow a similar composition. Furthermore, at the last Council meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Clark suggested that the applicants who did not get selected to the Planning Commission be invited to serve as members on the new Committee because of their expressed interest in volunteering for the City. Specifically, Mayor Pro Tem Clark would like to see those applicants who received some support from the Council (at least one favorable vote), but who were not appointed to the Planning Commission, be invited to serve on the Committee. He is also recommending that the model for the makeup of the Committee remain similar to the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee, consisting of two council members, two Commissioners and five community representatives. Therefore, based on previous Council direction to replicate the make-up of the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee and to implement Mayor Pro Tem Clark’s recent suggestion, Staff suggests the following steps for selecting the representatives for the new Residential Development Standards Committee:
Under this step, Staff would contact the previous members of the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee (Ken Dyda, Lois Karp, Vic Quirarte, Don Shults, and Diane Weinberger) inviting them to serve on the Residential Development Standards Committee. Participation by the previous Committee members would be beneficial in that these members are already familiar with the City’s Development Code and the specific areas of concern that were raised during the review of the Neighborhood Compatibility requirements.
Pursuant to Mayor Pro Tem Clark’s suggestion, Staff would extend an invitation to the recent Planning Commission applicants not selected to the Planning Commission at the last Council meeting, but who received at least one favorable vote. These individuals are: Kristine Denton, Stephen Perestam, and Jim Slayden.
3. Selection of Planning Commissioners:
Staff will schedule an item on a future Planning Commission agenda so that the Commission can appoint its two Commissioner representatives.
4. Committee Member Selection Process:
Once Staff has heard back from the eight community representative candidates and the Planning Commission has appointed its two representatives, Staff will present the Council with the list of names at a future Council meeting. At that time, the Council may formally appoint the Committee and agree on a meeting time table. Also, if there are less or more then five individuals interested in serving on the Committee as community representatives, the Council could either select five members or adjust the number of community representatives accordingly.
Committee’s Proposed Scope of Work
Based on the issues identified by the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee at the February 8, 2003 joint workshop, it is recommended that the newly formed Residential Development Standards Committee review, at a minimum, the following:
Some Committee members expressed a concern that the latest trend of lot splits and subdivisions being proposed include lot sizes that are incompatible with the size of lots within surrounding neighborhoods. Although it is understood that these proposed subdivisions comply with the City’s existing residential development standards, there was concern that the resultant densities may be incompatible with the character of the neighboring lots.
A concern was raised that the current maximum lot coverage standards result in smaller lots having greater lot coverage than larger lots. Specifically, in the RS-5 zoning district, the minimum lot size permitted in this zoning district is 8,000 square feet, while the maximum permitted lot coverage is 52% of the lot. Under this scenario, an 8,000 square foot lot could have up to 4,160 square feet of lot coverage, which may result in an overly-built lot because it is more than half of the lot size.
In addition to the lot coverage standards, some Committee members also felt that the setback standards may need to be increased so that there is more open space between residences.
A concern was also raised by the Committee, as well as several Planning Commissioners, that the residential standards, such as lot coverage, should be applicable to the "buildable" lot area rather than the gross lot area. This would subtract portions of a property that cannot be developed, such as extreme slopes (35% or greater) and setbacks, from specific development calculations.
Based on information provided at the Joint Workshop, it is Staff’s understanding that the scope of work for the new Committee will, at a minimum, encompass the above residential development issues. However, it can be expected that the scope of work may expand or contract as the Committee begins to deal with the specific issues and Staff input is provided. Furthermore, the Council may wish to identify additional issues for review at this time or eliminate issues from the Committee’s review.
Meeting Schedule of the Committee
Based on past experience with the meeting schedule of the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee, Staff believes that the optimal time for the new Committee to meet would be Friday afternoons. This is because Staff found that with the Neighborhood Compatibility Steering Committee most individuals did not have conflicts during that time and working participants were able to attend. In addition, it avoided Staff overtime and other costs associated with having evening meetings. Staff also realizes that if the Committee is comprised of entirely new members, Friday afternoons may not be the most convenient time to meet. Therefore, Staff is seeking Council direction on the Committee’s meeting schedule.
CONCLUSION Based on the foregoing discussion, Staff seeks Council direction on the selection process of members to the Residential Development Standards Committee and the Committee’s scope of work.
ALTERNATIVESThe following alternatives are available for the City Council’s consideration in addition to Staff’s recommendation:1. Direct the City Clerk to advertise an open recruitment for the five community representative positions; or,
2. Postpone agreeing on the membership criteria and scope of work of the Residential Development Standards Committee until after the joint City Council and Planning Commission meeting, that is tentatively scheduled for June 2004, is held.FISCAL IMPACTThe establishment of an ad hoc steering committee, assigned with the task to review the Development Code’s residential development standards, is not expected to have a fiscal impact on the City’s General Fund unless the Committee meetings occur outside of City Hall business hours. Respectfully submitted: Joel Rojas, aicp Director of Planning, Building and Code EnforcementReviewed, Les EvansCity Manager