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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 MAINTAIN AN UNDEVELOPED AREA FOR THE KEEPING OF HORSES ON ALL PROPERTIES WITHIN THE EQUESTRIAN (Q) OVERLAY DISTRICT (Case no. ZON2004-00264)
Staff Coordinator: Dave Blumenthal, Associate Planner
That the City council provide direction to staff as to whether or not to initiate development code text amendments that would require every residential property located within an Equestrian (Q) Overlay District to maintain a certain portion of their property as open space, so as not to preclude future possible horse keeping.
On April 8, 2004, due to a concern that residential properties within the City’s equestrian zones are being developed in a manner that would preclude future horse keeping, the Equestrian Committee recommended that the City Council initiate a Code Amendment to Municipal Code Section 17.46.060 that would require all properties within the Equestrian (Q) Overlay Zone to maintain horse keeping areas that would correspond to the minimum area required by the existing Development Code for the keeping of horses (see attached minutes). In accordance with the City’s code amendment initiation process, the Equestrian Committee’s request must be approved by the City Council before the formal code amendment process can begin.
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.
Currently, the Development Code establishes minimum areas for the keeping of horses in the City’s four Equestrian (Q) Overlay Districts, as well as, minimum setbacks between horse keeping areas and adjacent residences. Specifically, Section 17.46.020 states, "Two large domestic animals may be kept or maintained on a developed lot or parcel having a gross lot area of at least fifteen thousand square feet. One additional large domestic animal may be kept or maintained for each additional five thousand square feet of gross lot area, not to exceed a total of four large domestic animals." The Development Code also requires that all horses be kept in a fenced corral or other area containing a minimum of 400 square feet per animal. Furthermore, the Development Code prohibits any portion of the structure or enclosure meant for the keeping of horses from being located within thirty-five feet of (a) any structure used for human habitation, or (b) any required building setback line, on an adjacent property owned or controlled by a different person than the person owning or controlling the property where the animals are located, whichever is less.
During its meeting of April 8, 2004, the Equestrian Committee expressed a concern that many residential properties within the City’s "Q" zones were being improved and developed by non-horse owners in a manner that would preclude future horse keeping. Specifically, the Committee felt that when property owners in the "Q" District construct additions to their existing residences, they are subsequently reducing the available area necessary to meet the 400 square foot and 35-foot setback requirements that apply to horse keeping, thus diminishing the number of properties on which horses can be kept. The Committee felt that by requiring all properties within the "Q" Districts to maintain an undeveloped area that is equal to the minimum horse keeping area requirements presently called out in the Development Code, it would ensure that future horse keeping could still be possible on lots that are currently owned by non-horse keeping residents. The Committee further felt this request would maintain the rural atmosphere of the City, maintain the equestrian lifestyle in the "Q" District, and ensure that properties do not lose the opportunity to keep horses.
According to the City’s Development Code, code text amendments are reviewed by the Planning Commission with the final decision being made by the City Council. In the past, the Equestrian Committee has also been included in the review of proposed code amendments to the equestrian section of the code, but only because the previous code amendments involved the Equestrian Committee’s "review process". In this case the proposed amendment will not affect the Equestrian Committee’s "review process" since the proposed code amendment would simply be a development standard that would be met during staff’s or the Planning Commission’s review of any future additions or new homes in the "Q" Districts. Therefore, unless otherwise directed by the City Council, should the City Council agree to initiate the Equestrian Committee’s proposed code amendment, the code amendment review process described in the City’s Development Code would be utilized, with public hearings before the Planning Commission and ultimately the City Council. Notwithstanding, given the Equestrian Committee interest in the matter, it is expected that the Equestrian Committee would provide input to the Planning Commission.
As this is only a Code Initiation Request, it is not necessary for the City Council to address all issues associated with such a code amendment at this time. During the actual review of the code amendment itself, through noticed public hearings, the Planning Commission and City Council will be able to address issues of how this amendment could be structured so as to meet the Equestrian Committee objective, but also not create an undue burden on property owners’ ability to construct future additions. In addition, public notices will be provided to all HOA’s on record with the City that exist within the City’s four "Q" Districts. It should be noted that, inasmuch as both the City of Rolling Hills and the City of Rolling Hills Estates have similar requirements (see attached), this type of restriction is not unprecedented. Notwithstanding this, if the City Council feels that the proposed code amendment is not necessary or desirable, the City Council may direct staff not to pursue the requested revision, and no further action would be taken on the proposal.
As noted in the discussion above, the Equestrian Committee feels that there is a need to preserve opportunities for current and future equestrian use of properties within the city. Therefore, the Committee has formally requested that the City Council initiate a code amendment that would require all residential properties within the Equestrian (Q) Overlay District to maintain an undeveloped area for horse keeping.
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