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TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL
FROM: DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, BUILDING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT
DATE: JANUARY 17, 2006
SUBJECT: PRESERVATION OF THE EQUESTRIAN (Q) OVERLAY DISTRICT
Staff Coordinator: Dave Blumenthal, Associate Planner
1) Receive report from Equestrian Committee on preservation of Equestrian (Q) Districts, and 2) Direct staff to take any appropriate action.
On November 1, 2005, the City Council amended the Equestrian Committee’s official duties and responsibilities (list of approved duties is attached). As part of the revised duties and responsibilities, the Equestrian Committee is responsible to advise on the preservation of the Equestrian Districts. In keeping with this charter, over a period of several meetings, the Equestrian Committee has discussed ideas for preserving equestrian uses within the Equestrian Districts. The Committee’s concern is that many residential properties within the City’s “Q” zones are being improved and developed by non-horse owners in a manner that would preclude future horse keeping. As a result, the Equestrian Committee has prepared a report to the City Council on this issue, which is now being presented to the City Council for its consideration.
There are four Equestrian Overlay Districts (see attached map) within the City (Palos Verdes Drive East, Portuguese Bend, Ridgecrest, and Via Campesina). These Equestrian Districts encompass 1,117 separate parcels, of which 1,067 are greater than 15,000 square feet in size (the minimum lot size needed for horse keeping without a permit), and approximately 950 different property owners. Although an inventory has not been taken and there are no records kept by the City, it is estimated that currently there are upwards of 200 horses being kept within the four Equestrian Districts.
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.
The Equestrian Committee’s concern is 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 area and 35-foot setback requirements that apply to horse keeping, thus diminishing the number of properties on which horses can be kept in the future. The Equestrian Committee believes that the unintended consequence of this current trend is that the City’s available horse keeping areas within the Equestrian Districts will be lost property by property.
In order to address this concern, the Equestrian Committee has put together the attached report to the City Council. This report outlines several options that the Council can implement to help preserve horse-keeping areas within the Equestrian (Q) Districts. These options include providing development incentives for providing horse keeping areas, changing the 35’ setback requirement, and requiring a set aside area for horse keeping even if a property owner doesn’t own horses. The report was reviewed and approved by the entire Equestrian Committee at their meeting on November 10, 2005. Additionally, representatives of the Equestrian Committee will be available at the public hearing to present these ideas in detail to the City Council.
It should be noted that on June 1, 2004, the Equestrian Committee presented a proposed code amendment to the City Council to require all properties in the “Q” District, that are greater than 15,000 square feet in size, to maintain a minimum area of at least 800 square feet for the keeping of horses. The City Council initiated the code amendment by forwarding it to the Planning Commission for consideration (pursuant to the City’s Development Code). While this idea is not unheard of (Rolling Hills & Rolling Hills Estates have similar ordinances), the Planning Commission felt that such an ordinance would create an undue burden on the property owners who do not wish to keep horses. As such, the Planning Commission denied the requested code amendment on October 26, 2004.
As of the date this report was printed, staff has received five emails (attached) that support the Equestrian Committee’s request to preserve the Equestrian (Q) Districts.
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 prepared and will present a report to the City Council on the preservation of the Equestrian (Q) Overlay Districts within the City.
There are no direct costs with receiving the report from the Equestrian Committee. However, should the Council determine to initiate a code amendment, the cost of processing said amendment will be borne by the general fund.
Joel Rojas, AICP, Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement
Les Evans, City Manager
- Equestrian Committee Report on Preservation of Equestrian (Q) Districts