Small Lot Ordinance (SLO) Discussed
At a joint study session of the Costa Mesa City Council and the Planning Commission, in the cozy confines of Conference Room 1A, a packed house heard the staff proposal for a Small Lot Ordinance (SLO) discussed for 90 minutes. You can read the staff report HERE.
CITY HEAVYWEIGHTS IN THE ROOM
All the council members and planning commissioners attended as well as CEO Tom Hatch, Assistant CEO Rick Francis, Development Services Director Gary Armstrong, Director of Public Services Ernesto Munoz, contract City Attorney Tom Duarte, Communication Director Bill Lobdell and Principal Planner Minoo Ashabi, who took the point on the presentation. All the audience seats were occupied and several other chairs were brought in for an overflow crowd. The proceedings will be available for viewing on CMTV and recorded streaming video soon.
Interested parties were permited to address the council and commissioners and a half-dozen stepped up to do so. They were equally split between residents and those with developer ties. The residents expressed concern about parking and density. Those with developer ties complimented the staff on this ordinance, stressed easier financing and looked forward to working with the city on projects in the near future.
As you will read in the staff report, the objective of this new ordinance is to "regulate the development of single-family detached homes by providing specific zoning requirements for this type of housing development." As I said in an earlier post, it looks like this ordinance took most of the gripes about variances and other exceptions to the rules expressed by developers in the recent past and codified them to facilitate more development. The staff report contains 13 items that will change in our current codes.
PARKING, PARKING, PARKING
While many aspects of this new proposed ordinance were discussed, the conversation kept getting hijacked by a discussion of parking, despite the fact that the staff report was very, very specific on the issue. You can't get any clearer than this statement, early in the staff report: "It should be noted that no changes to the City's parking requirements are being proposed within the small lot ordinance." And yet all those very smart people around the table just kept getting off track. Of course, I guess I understand their concerns - Costa Mesa is notorious for under-parking projects.
CODIFY GARAGE PARKING
A significant part of the discussion addressed the very common practice of loading up our garages with "stuff" and parking our cars outside. The staff recommended that, in lieu of Homeowners Associations, any such projects use "Maintenance Agreements" - a much less formal type of rules. It suggested that each of those demand the garages be used for cars, not storage. We'll see.
NEXT UP - A PUBLIC HEARING
I'm not going to attempt to replay every word in that 90-minute meeting, but the upshot of it was that the staff will bring to the Planning Commission a fine-tuned version of the ordinance for its consideration at a Public Hearing, and that would then be passed along to the City Council for adoption.
HAPPY DEVELOPERS, ANXIOUS RESIDENTS
At the end of the meeting I saw none of the developers in attendance frowning. I did see more than a few residents still concerned about this ordinance. Keep in mind that this ordinance will NOT affect areas of the city zoned R-1 - residential. It only applies to projects in areas zoned R-2 or greater. I suspect we will see a pretty sizable crowd at the Planning Commission meeting when this issue is presented.
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