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TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL
FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: JUNE 1, 2004
SUBJECT: Code amendment initiation request to consider the prohibition of portable on demand storage containers (Cargo Containers) as permanent storage units on residential properties (Case no. Zon2004-00265)
Staff Coordinator: Dave Blumenthal, Associate Planner
That the City Council provide direction to staff as to whether or not to initiate Development Code text amendment to consider the prohibition of the use of Portable on Demand Storage containers (cargo containers) as permanent storage units on residential properties.
There have been recent inquires by property owners, to staff, whether Portable on Demand Storage (PODS) containers (commonly referred to as cargo containers) can be allowed for use as permanent storage units on residential properties. Currently, the Development Code does not explicitly prohibit the use of PODS for permanent storage purposes. As a result, staff felt that the City Council might want to prohibit the use of said containers since they may create visual impacts and not be compatible with existing residential neighborhoods. To address the issue, the City Council would need to initiate the code amendment process. According to Municipal Code section 17.68.030, the City Council shall review a proposed code amendment to determine whether it is necessary and desirable. As such, staff has agendized this item for Council consideration.
The City’s current Development Code does not explicitly address the issue of using PODS containers as permanent storage on residential parcels. PODS containers are premanufactured parallelepiped structures, typically of metal construction, that are delivered to a site as a fully contained unit. The containers usually measure 8’ wide, 8’-6" high, and from 10’ to 40’ long. These containers are considered structures pursuant to the Uniform Building Code and when used on a permanent basis, require structural engineering and attachment to a foundation.
Although problems with the use of the PODS as storage containers are not wide spread in residential neighborhoods, staff has noticed an increased number of inquiries regarding the use of PODS as storage units. As a result, staff believes that it may be prudent to add language to the code now to clarify the use of said containers on private property. Staff is not proposing that PODS be outright in residential zones because the use of PODS can be beneficial for a short-term use, such as temporary storage during construction, and can be used as foundations in the active slide zone (with appropriate engineering and approval from the City’s Building Official). Nonetheless, staff is concerned about the use of PODS as permanent storage structures in residential zones because of the potential impacts that may result. More specifically, staff believes that the long-term use of PODS within residential areas may create visual impacts and may be incompatible with the neighborhoods.
As such, staff seeks direction from the City Council as whether to initiate a code amendment to address the use of PODS on private property and to clarify that PODS can be used on a temporary basis in residential neighborhoods (subject to approval of a Special Use Permit), for building foundations in the active slide zone (with appropriate engineering and approval from the City’s Building Official), and for use within the Commercial and Institutional Zones (subject to approval of a Conditional Use Permit), but could not be used as permanent storage structures in residential neighborhoods.
Based on staff’s concerns about the aesthetic impacts that the use of permanent PODS can have on residential neighborhoods within the City, staff is currently seeking direction on the initiation of a code amendment to prohibit the use of PODS containers as permanent storage structures.
Inasmuch as the City is proposing the code amendment, the cost of processing this amendment will be borne by the general fund.
The following alternatives are available for the City Council’s consideration:
Joel Rojas, aicp, Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement
Les Evans, City Manager