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CITY OF MANHATTAN BEACH

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT

TO: Planning Commission

THROUGH: Richard Thompson, Director of Community Development FROM: Laurie B. Jester, Senior Planner

DATE: March 23, 2005

SUBJECT: Zoning Code Amendment and Local Coastal Program Amendment Regarding Residential Lot Mergers-City Council 2004-2005 Work Plan Item (City of Manhattan Beach)

RECOMMENDATION

Staff recommends that the Planning Commission HOLD the PUBLIC HEARING, DISCUSS, and DIRECT staff to prepare a Resolution recommending to the City Council approval of revisions to the Zoning Code related to Lot Mergers.

BACKGROUND

On February 21, 2004, the City Council held a special session and developed the 2004-2005 Work Plan which was formally adopted on March 2, 2004. On April 6, 2004 the City Council identified and prioritized five of these Work Plan Items assigned to the Community Development Department. On April 13, 2004 the City Council and Planning Commission held a joint Work Plan meeting to discuss and provide direction on the prioritized projects. At that meeting the subject Work Plan item was identified as the fifth priority item and staff indicated that it would be brought before the Planning Commission for discussion as staff resources and work load levels allowed.

On January 26, 2005 the Planning Commission discussed the Lot Merger Work Plan item, asked staff for additional information and requested that the item be brought back for further discussion. On February 23, 2005 the Commission reviewed photos and discussed merged lots, and lots that have not been merged but have the same owner as an adjacent property that is used as a yard area. The January 26th and February 23rd staff reports, attachments and minutes are attached.

At the February 23rd meeting the Planning Commission directed staff to prepare amendments to the Zoning Code as follows:

• Reduce Percentage of Buildable Floor Area (BFA)- For each additional lot that is added to the original standard size lot, a reduced percentage of BFA will be allowed.

• Increase setbacks- The two interior side yard setbacks that are lost when lots are merged would be required to be added to the side yards of the newly created lot.

• Merger of more than two lots- If more than two standard size lots are merged, additional criteria will be required as well as a Minor Exception.

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• Increase parking for large homes- Homes with over 5,000 SF of BFA will require a 4-car garage.

DISCUSSION Overview and Issue

The Work Plan Item is to review current regulations pertaining to lot mergers to consider whether they are appropriate or if changes should be made to reduce “mansionization”. The trend has been as two or more lots are merged, the homes tend not to maximize their BFA but provide more open yard area, and/or increased parking.

The City has approved an average of one lot merger per year over the past seven years. These applications are administratively approved if all of the Code standards are met when the lots are merged. Although the BFA’s are generally not maximized when lots are merged, the public view of new homes from the street is often more pronounced as the home, as well as the lot, is wider. Additionally, the pattern of development within a neighborhood is altered as there are new larger lots mixed in with the existing standard size lots, and the orientation of front yards may be altered.

Code Amendments

At the February 23, 2005 meeting the Planning Commission directed staff to prepare amendments to the Zoning Code to address the four areas previously mentioned. Staff has reviewed the Code and suggests the approaches as detailed below to implement the Planning Commissions direction. In general staff is recommending that these new standards not only apply to new lot mergers but also to existing merged, or oversized lots. Applying these new standards to existing oversized lots as well as new large lots that are created through lot mergers would protect the additional open space that is currently being provided on the larger lots. Staff provided the Commission photographs of examples of these larger and merged lots at the last meeting, and discussed the development trends on these lots. Staff felt that the direction from the Commission was to preserve this existing reduced density and open space on the existing larger lots as well as be proactive by providing reduced BFA and increased setbacks on larger lots that may be created in the future.

Since many lots currently are substantially smaller than the Minimum Lot Area required in the Area District and Zone, staff recommends that the new requirements for reduced BFA and increased setbacks apply to all lots that exceed 1 ½ times the Minimum Lot Area. Proposed newly created lots that are more than 2 times the Minimum Lot Area would require approval of a Minor Exception. Additionally, any existing lot that is more than 2 times the Minimum Lot Area that wants to add BFA over that allowed for a lot that is 1 1/2 times the Minimum Lot Area, would require approval of a Minor Exception. If the BFA or a side setback is made non- conforming due to the new regulations a Minor Exception could also be applied for.

The revised BFA and Setback language is attached as redlined-strikeout text. Staff will prepare the Minor Exception language changes if the Commission agrees with the direction suggested by staff.

Reduce Percentage of Buildable Floor Area (BFA)

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A reduced BFA for lots that exceed 1 1/2 times the size of a minimum standard size lot will be imposed on the portion of each lot that is added to the original lot. The area of the first lot, or minimum standard sized lot, would be allowed to develop 100% of the maximum BFA, and the portion of the lot that exceeds 1 1/2 times the size of the minimum lot size would be allowed to develop 70% of the maximum BFA. The overall allowed BFA for these larger lots would be a combination of the allowed maximum BFA’s. Currently the maximum BFA ranges from 0.65% plus 240 square feet, to 1.7% of the lot area, depending on the Area District and lot size. The BFA for the area of the lot that exceeds 1 ½ times the minimum lot area would range from 0.45% to 1.2%. Any lot that exceeds two times the minimum lot area that wants to add BFA over that allowed for a lot that is 1 ½ times the minimum lot area, would require review through the Minor Exception process. If the BFA is made non- conforming due to these new requirements then a Minor Exception may be applied for.

Staff is recommending that this requirement apply to all of the RS zone and to the RM and RH Zones in Area Districts III and IV. Staff is not recommending that the reduction in BFA apply to the RM and RH zones in Area Districts I and II for several reasons. First staff would like to encourage the assembling of parcels in these area as circulation, parking and open space can often be addressed more comprehensively with a larger lot size. Additionally, the Zoning Code already reduces the BFA for lots over 7,500 SF in the RM and RH Zones in Area Districts I and II, and a Use Permit is required so design issues are reviewed through the public hearing process. Draft Code language with revised text highlighted and underlined is attached as Exhibit A.

Increase setbacks

The Code generally requires sideyard setbacks that are equal to 10% of the width of the lot, with a range of 1 foot minimum to 5 feet maximum. When lots that are side by side are merged, the 1 to 5 foot sideyard setbacks between the properties that are merged are eliminated and only the two exterior side setbacks remain. The front and rear setbacks remain the same for these merged lots.

As an example, two forty-foot wide lots would have four sideyard setbacks, each 4 feet wide for a total width of 16 feet of sideyard setbacks. If these two lots are combined, the new 80 foot wide lot would have two 5 foot sideyard setbacks for a total width of 10 feet. The interior sideyard setbacks would be redistributed to the new exterior side yards, so essentially the new exterior sideyards would be increased. Since often when lots are merged the existing home is retained and an addition is constructed, these new setbacks would applied only to new construction.

Staff is suggesting that this new requirement be implemented similar to the BFA standard. If an existing or new lot exceeds 1 ½ times the Minimum Lot Area required in the Area District and Zone, then the minimum side and corner side setback would be 10% of the lot width with a 3 foot minimum, and no maximum. Currently there is a 3 foot minimum with a 5 foot maximum on the side yards, and a 1 foot minimum on corner sides in area Districts III and IV, and this standard would still apply to lots less than 1 ½ times the Minimum Lot Area. For existing lots and structures if the setbacks are made non-conforming due to these new requirements then a Minor Exception may be applied for. These greater side yard setbacks

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would be provided for new construction on existing larger lots as well as newly created larger merged lots. This requirement essentially creates side setback requirements that are equal to those required for two separate lots, with the exception of the narrow 25 foot side lots. If two 25 foot wide lots are merged, the setback would be slightly less than the two individual lots (12 feet total for two lots, and 10 feet total for the two merged lots).

Regulate number of lots that are merged

A maximum of two standard lots would be allowed to be merged administratively. Since standard lot sizes relate to minimum lot square footage, this criteria will use a square footage cap. Any newly created lot that exceeds two times the minimum lot area would require review through the Minor Exception process. Existing lots that are larger than two times the minimum lot area would require approval of a Minor Exception if the total BFA on the lot exceeds that allowed on a lot that is 1 1/2 times the size of a standard lot. Currently there are approximately 80 existing lots in the City that exceed two times the Minimum Lot Area. This will allow existing homes to be expanded, but with a review if the BFA exceeds a certain threshold.

If more than two standard size lots are merged or if the BFA threshold is exceeded, then additional criteria will be required, as well as the processing of a Minor Exception. The Minor Exception process requires public notice of the application, criteria must be met, conditions may be imposed, and public and City Council notice of the decision is required. If more than two lots are merged and the size of the combined lots is more than double the minimum lot size, as shown in the chart below, then a Minor Exception would be required.

Area District AD I AD II AD III and IV Minimum Lot Size-Square feet 7,500 SF 4,600 SF 2,700 SF 2 Times Minimum Lot Size- Square feet 15,000 SF 9,200 SF 5,400 SF Increase parking for large homes

This issue was brought up by the Planning Commission on February 23rd. When lots are merged larger homes are generally constructed since the lot is larger and the Commission felt that more parking should be required for these larger homes. Although the Lot Merger issue initiated the discussion of increased parking for larger homes, staff is suggesting that if the Commission does recommend this new requirement for a 4-car garage, that it would apply to all homes 5,000 square feet or larger in size. The Code currently requires a 2-car garage for all single family homes up to 3600 square feet in area, and a 3-car garage for homes over 3600 square feet in area.

The Commission may want to defer action on this item and combine it with a future study related to the newly adopted Housing Element Program. The Housing Element provides a Program for small rental units/second units that would consider allowing reduced parking (1- car garage) and reduced open space requirements for small (550 square feet maximum) rental units. These standards would apply in the multi-family zones where second units are already allowed, however, they are often not constructed as the parking and open space standards are difficult to comply with.

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Purpose, Criteria, and General Plan Policies

Additions to the purpose and criteria sections of the Code are important in order to relay the intent of the City Council and how that intent and goals are translated into Code requirements. Language from the City Council Work Plan will be added to the Purpose section and additional criteria tying in with the General Plan will be added.

CONCLUSION

Staff requests that the Commission hold the public hearing, discuss, and direct staff to prepare a Resolution, recommending to the City Council approval of the Code amendments.

EXHIBITS

A. Draft Code language revisions- redlined- strikeout text B. Staff Report, attachments, and minutes- February 23, 2005

C. Staff Report, attachments, and minutes- January 26, 2005 (Duplicates deleted)

H:\Work Plan 2004-2005\Lot Mergers\PC Report 3-23-05 revised 1.doc

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PROPOSED DRAFT CODE LANGUAGE- LOT MERGERS EXHIBIT A-PLANNING COMMISSION MARCH 23, 2005

H:\Work Plan 2004-2005\Lot Mergers\Draft Code language 3-16-05 draft.doc 1 10.12.030 Property development regulations: RS, RM, and RH districts.

PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS FOR AREA DISTRICTS I AND II Additional Area District I Area District II Regulations RS RM RH RS RM RH

Minimum/Maximum Lot Dimensions

Area (sq. ft.) 7,500/ 7,500 7,500 4,600/ 4,600 4,600 (A) (B)(C)(W) 15,000 9,200

Width (ft.) 50 50 50 40 40 40 Minimum Setbacks

Front (ft. 20 20 20 20 20 20 (A) (B) (D) Side (ft.) 3;10% 3;10% 3;10% 3;10% 3;10% 3;10% (D) (E) (F) Corner Side(ft.) 3;10% 3;10% 3;10% 3;10% 3;10% 3;10% (D) (E)

Rear (ft.) 10;25 10;25 10;25 10;25 10;25 10;25 (D)(E) (F) (G) Maximum Height

of Structures (ft.) 26 26 30 26 26 30 (H) (P)

Maximum Buildable Floor Area (I)

Lot Area (Sq.Ft.)

7,500 or less 1.0 1.2 1.0 1.2 More than 7,500 2250 2250 2250 2250

+0.7 +0.9 +0.7 +0.9

4,800 or less 0.7 0.7

More than 4,800240 240

+0.65 +0.65

Portion of lot

more than 6,900 0.45 9,200 or more Minor

Exception for BFA

over 4,275 SF

Portion of lot more than

11,250 0.45 15,000 or more Minor

Exception

for BFA

over 6,803 SF

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PROPOSED DRAFT CODE LANGUAGE- LOT MERGERS EXHIBIT A-PLANNING COMMISSION MARCH 23, 2005

H:\Work Plan 2004-2005\Lot Mergers\Draft Code language 3-16-05 draft.doc 2 Minimum Lot Area

Per Dwelling

Unit (sq.ft.) 7,500 3,750 1,000 4,600 2,300 1,000 (A) Note: In the RS districts, the enclosed area for vehicle parking and loading, up to 400 square feet on lots with less than 4,800 square feet and up to 600 square feet on lots with more than 4,800 square feet, is excluded from the determination of the maximum amount of buildable floor area. In all residential districts, 50% of habitable room floor area in a basement located entirely below local grade is excluded from the determination of buildable floor area.

PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS FOR AREA DISTRICTS III AND IV Additional Area District III Area District IV Regulations

RS RM RH RH

Minimum/Maximum Lot Dimensions

Area (sq. ft.) 2,700/ 2,700; 2,700; 2,700/ (A) (B) (C) (J) (W)

5,400 5,400 5,400 5,400

Width (ft.) 30 30 30 30 Minimum Setbacks

Front (ft.) 5 5 5 5 (A) (B) (D) Side (ft.) 3;10% 3;10% 3;10% 3;10% (D) (E) (F) Corner Side (ft.) 1;10% 1;10% 1;10% 1;10% (D) (E)

Rear (ft.) 5 5 5 5 (D) (E) (F)(G) Maximum Height

of Structures (ft.) 30 30 30 30 (H) (P)

Maximum Buildable Floor Area (I)

Lot Area (Sq.Ft.)

4,050 or less 1.6 1.6 1.7 1.7 Portion of lot

more than 4,050 1.1 1.1 1.2 1.2

5,400 or more Minor Minor Minor Exception

Exception Exception for BFA

for BFA over for BFA over 6,211 SF

5,806 SF over

6,211 SF

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PROPOSED DRAFT CODE LANGUAGE- LOT MERGERS EXHIBIT A-PLANNING COMMISSION MARCH 23, 2005

H:\Work Plan 2004-2005\Lot Mergers\Draft Code language 3-16-05 draft.doc 3 Minimum Lot Area per

Dwelling Unit (sq.ft.) 2,700 1,350 850 850 (J) (A) Note: In the RS district, the enclosed area for vehicle parking and loading, up to 400 square feet on lots with less than 2,700 square feet and up to 600 square feet on lots with 2,700 square feet or more, is excluded from the determination of the maximum amount of buildable floor area. In all residential districts, 50% of habitable room floor area in a basement located entirely below local grade is excluded from the determination of buildable floor area.

(C) Oversized Lot Requirements

(1) Any portion of any RS zoned lot in all Area Districts, and any RM and RH zoned lots in Area Districts III and IV, that exceed one and one-half (1 ½) times the Minimum Lot Area required in the Area District and the Zone, may be developed at a reduced density (maximum 70% of the Maximum Buildable Floor Area), as indicated in the Maximum Buildable Floor Area section of the Property Development Standards chart.

(2) Any RS zoned lot in all Area Districts, and any RM and RH zoned lots in Area Districts III and IV, that exceeds two (2) times the Minimum Lot Area required in the Area District and the Zone, requires approval of a Minor Exception for any Buildable Floor Area that is in excess of the square footage shown in the chart.

(3) Any RS zoned lot in all Area Districts, and any RM and RH zoned lots in Area Districts III and IV created after ORDINANCE ADOPTION DATE TBD, 2005 (through a lot merger, lot line adjustment, map or other consolidation of parcels), that exceeds two (2) times the Minimum Lot Area required in the Area District and the Zone, requires approval of a Minor Exception

(E) Side Setback: Ten percent of lot width but not less than 3 feet. and need not exceed 5 feet. Structures that are legally existing as of ORDINANCE

ADOPTION DATE TBD, 2005 that became non-conforming due to the adoption of Ordinance No. XXXX, may apply for a Minor Exception Permit.

Exceptions:

(1) Side Setbacks (All Area Districts) and Corner Side Setbacks (Area Districts I and II): Lots that are less than one and one-half (1 ½) times the

Minimum Lot Area required in the Area District and Zone, need not exceed a five (5) foot setback.

(2) Corner Side Setbacks (Area Districts III and IV): Lots that are less than one and one-half (1 ½) times the Minimum Lot Area required in the Area District and Zone, need not exceed a one (1) foot setback.

(2)(3) Reverse Corner Side Setback: Reverse corner lots in Area

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PROPOSED DRAFT CODE LANGUAGE- LOT MERGERS EXHIBIT A-PLANNING COMMISSION MARCH 23, 2005

H:\Work Plan 2004-2005\Lot Mergers\Draft Code language 3-16-05 draft.doc 4 Districts I and II shall have the following side yards:

(a) On the lot side line which adjoins another lot the side yard shall be determined in the same manner as for an interior lot.

(b) On the street side line, the width of the required side setback shall be the same as for the interior side setback on the lot except that the size and shape of such required side setback nearest the lot rear line shall be

increased to include all of that portion, if any, of a triangle formed in the following manner:

(1.) On the common lot line of the reverse corner lot and the key lot, a point shall be established where the rear line of the required front yard on the key lot intersects such common lot line;

(2.) On the street side line of the reverse corner lot, a point shall be established distant from the common street corner of the key lot and the reverse corner lot equal to the depth of the required front yard on the key lot;

(3.) The third side of the triangle shall be a straight line connecting points (1.) and (2.) of this section. If an alley intervenes between the key lot and the reverse corner lot, the width of the alley shall be included in determining the length of the line on the street side line of the reverse corner lot.

Rear Setback: In Area Districts I and II, the rear setback (RS) shall be determined as follows:

RS = 0.3 x (lot depth in feet) - 20; provided that the minimum setback is 10 feet and the maximum required setback is 25 feet.

(I) Maximum Buildable Floor Area. The maximum buildable floor area on a lot shall be determined by multiplying the lot area times the Floor Area Factor (FAF) shown in the table. If the lot area is equal to, or greater than, a certain threshold in certain zoning districts (7,500 square feet in Area Districts 1 and 11 for RM and RH Districts, 4,800 square feet for the RS District in Area Districts I and II), then a base floor area in square feet is noted in the table and the additional floor area is calculated by multiplying the appropriate FAF times the lot area. Certain space is not included in the definition of buildable floor area;

see Chapter 10.04.

Any RS zoned lot in all Area Districts, and any RM and RH zoned lots in Area Districts III and IV, that exceed two (2) times the Minimum Lot Area required in the Area District and the Zone, requires approval of a Minor Exception for any Buildable Floor Area that is in excess of the square footage shown in the chart.

Structures and lots that are legally existing as of date ORDINANCE ADOPTION

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PROPOSED DRAFT CODE LANGUAGE- LOT MERGERS EXHIBIT A-PLANNING COMMISSION MARCH 23, 2005

H:\Work Plan 2004-2005\Lot Mergers\Draft Code language 3-16-05 draft.doc 5 DATE TBD, 2005 that became non-conforming due to the adoption of Ordinance No. XXXX, may apply for a Minor Exception Permit.

In Area Districts I and II in the RS districts, the enclosed area for vehicle parking and loading, up to 400 square feet on lots with less than 4,800 square feet and up to 600 square feet on lots with 4,800 square feet or more, is excluded from the determination of buildable floor area. In Area Districts Ill and IV in the RS district, the enclosed area for vehicle parking and loading, up to 400 square feet on lots with less than 2,700 square feet and up to 600 square feet on lots with 2,700 square feet or more, is excluded from the determination of buildable floor area.

In all residential districts, seventy percent (70%) of floor area in a basement that is not entirely below local grade, and up to 200 square feet of basement area used for storage and mechanical equipment purposes, is excluded from the determination of buildable floor area. Basement areas located entirely below local grade, and the related egress wells if they are the minimum size required by the UBC and located outside of the front yard setback, are excluded from the determination of buildable floor area.

(C) (W) The minimum site area shall be 12,000 square feet for General Day Care, General Residential Care, and Public or Private Schools.

OFF-STREET PARKING AND LOADING SPACES REQUIRED Off-Street

Loading Spaces:

Off-Street Parking Schedule B Use Classification Spaces: Schedule A Group Number Residential

Single-Family Residential: 2 enclosed per unit - Dwelling with Buildable

Floor Area (BFA) less than 3,600 square feet

Dwelling with 3,600 3 enclosed per unit. - square feet Buildable

Floor Area (BFA) or more

Dwelling with 5,000 4 enclosed per unit square feet Buildable

Floor Area (BFA) or more

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D R A F T CITY OF MANHATTAN BEACH D R A F T EXCERPTS OF MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE

PLANNING COMMISSION FEBRUARY 23, 2005

D R A F T

A regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the City of Manhattan Beach was held on

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005, at 6:40 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, City Hall, 1400

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Highland Avenue.

3 4

ROLL CALL

5 6

Chairman O’Connor called the meeting to order.

7 8

Members Present: Kuch, Montgomery, Savikas, Simon, Chairman O’Connor

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Members Absent: None

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Staff: Richard Thompson, Director of Community Development

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Laurie Jester, Senior Planner

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Sarah Boeschen, Recording Secretary

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BUSINESS ITEMS

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A. Discussion of City Council 2004-2005 Work Plan Item Regarding Residential Lot

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Mergers, to Review Current Regulations When Two or More Lots are Combined

19

Senior Planner Jester summarized the staff report. She indicated that the major trend for lot

20

mergers is for homes to be built under the maximum permitted buildable floor area (BFA), which

21

results in additional open space and yard area. She commented that an issue has been raised

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regarding the effect that merged lots have on the development patterns and character of

23

neighborhoods. She said that neighborhood character can best be observed first hand, and staff

24

would encourage the Commissioners to visit the properties indicated in the staff report to view

25

them in relationship to the neighborhood.

26 27

Chairman O’Connor requested that the Commissioners be provided with hard copies of the

28

powerpoint presentation and also suggested that hard copies be made available for future

29

projects.

30 31

Director Thompson commented that a lot merger would typically only come before the Planning

32

Commission if they include a request for a Variance.

33 34

Senior Planner Jester showed slides with examples of lots that have been merged and of

35

properties which include two lots purchased by one owner that have not been merged. She

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indicated that merging of lots to create one legal lot allows the ability to build across the old lot

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lines to construct accessory structures such as a pool house or guest house. She stated that

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property owners who purchase adjacent lots for their own use and do not request a merger

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typically use the second lot as yard area. She indicated that individual lots must have a primary

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residential structure in order to include an accessory use such as a pool, guest house or garage.

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PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES- EXCERPTS February 23, 2005

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2 D R A F T

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In response to a question from Chairman O’Connor, Senior Planner Jester commented that in

2

cases where lots are not merged and one property remains vacant, typically only the address of

3

the occupied lot is used in order to avoid confusion. She said that the tract number and assessor

4

parcel number are used to define lots, which is separate from an address.

5 6

Director Thompson said that the only reason a property is given an address is to provide

7

identification for structures and for the delivery of mail. He said that a lot which becomes vacant

8

adopts the building address of the adjacent property. He indicated that addresses are assigned by

9

the City together with the Post Office.

10 11

Senior Planner Jester stated that the lot and tract number are actually the legal description of lots

12

rather than address.

13 14

Senior Planner Jester stated that possible solutions for regulating lot mergers include reducing

15

the percentage of Buildable Floor Area (BFA); increasing setbacks; limiting maximum square

16

footage of lots; limiting the maximum square footage of homes; limiting the number of lots to be

17

merged; and increasing the open space requirement. She indicated that staff is recommending

18

reducing the percentage of BFA and increasing setbacks, which were also supported by the

19

Commissioners at the last meeting. She commented that a purpose and criteria section would

20

also be added, and information regarding General Plan policies have been included in the staff

21

report as requested at the prior meeting. She indicated that staff is suggesting that a single lot

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would be permitted 100 percent of allowable BFA; two lots being merged would be permitted a

23

reduced percentage; and three lots being merged would be permitted a further reduced

24

percentage. She indicated that the 1 to 5 foot side yard setbacks between two properties are

25

eliminated when they are merged, and only the two exterior side setbacks remain. She indicated

26

that requiring the interior side yard setbacks of the two existing lots to be redistributed to the

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exterior side yards of the single lot once they are merged would increase the size of the side

28

yards. She said that since the existing home is often retained when lots are merged, staff would

29

suggest requiring the redistributed setbacks only for new construction.

30 31

Senior Planner Jester said that the City Attorney indicated that there is no violation of the

32

Subdivision Map Act or any State regulations by limiting the maximum size of lots. She stated,

33

however, that staff is concerned about the approach because they feel regulating the size of

34

structures in relation to the size of lots should be considered rather than limiting the size of lots.

35

She indicated that staff would not support limiting the maximum square footage of homes, and

36

staff did not hear any support from the Commission for such a regulation. She commented that

37

there is currently a maximum BFA that is permitted, and staff feels the relationship of the home

38

to the size of the lot should be addressed in lot merger regulations rather than BFA itself. She

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indicated that at the previous meeting one Commissioner felt that limiting mergers to two

40

standard size lots may be appropriate, while several others felt that there should not be a limit on

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PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES- EXCERPTS February 23, 2005

Page 3

3 D R A F T

the number of lots that may be merged. She commented that one Commissioner also indicated

1

that there should be additional criteria to ensure the neighborhood character is maintained if

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more than two lots are merged. She indicated that staff feels that limiting the number of lots that

3

may be merged has the same implications as limiting lot size, and the size of a home in

4

relationship to the size of the lot is the issue that should be addressed. She stated that there

5

currently is a minimum requirement for open space in multi family high density residential areas

6

and in the beach area. She said that staff did not feel it would be appropriate to apply the

7

requirement for single family homes because there currently is not a requirement for open space,

8

and there was not support expressed by the Commission for such an approach.

9 10

Senior Planner Jester commented that the Land Use Policies outlined in the staff report include

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goals to maintain the low profile development and small town atmosphere of the City; to

12

encourage the provision and retention of private landscaped open space with a policy under that

13

goal to preserve and encourage private open space on residential lots citywide; to achieve a

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strong, positive community aesthetic; and to preserve the features of each community

15

neighborhood and develop solutions tailored to each neighborhood’s unique characteristics. She

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commented that staff believes that the approaches they are recommending would be consistent

17

with the outlined goals.

18 19

Chairman O’Connor stated that the garage space requirement is currently based on the size of a

20

home but does not extend beyond the requirement for a three car garage for homes over 3,600

21

square feet. He commented that to the extent that mergers would allow a greater amount of

22

BFA, a threshold should possibly be established for requiring a four car garage for larger homes

23

on merged lots.

24 25

Commissioner Montgomery indicated that he would support establishing an additional garage

26

space requirement for larger homes.

27 28

Director Thompson said that staff could provide the Commissioners with further information

29

regarding establishing an additional garage space requirement.

30 31

Martha Andreani a resident of the 100 block of 10th Street, commented that the Municipal

32

election on March 8 and encouraged members of the community to read about the election in the

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Daily Breeze, Beach Reporter, and the Easy Reader and view the websites to study the material

34

the candidates have provided. She stated that she supports restrictions on lot mergers, as they

35

reduce density and provide opportunities for larger yards and open space if regulated properly.

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She indicated that lot merges do impact the City by reducing the number of residential units by

37

one or more depending upon the number of lots that are merged. She requested that the number

38

of lots that are permitted to be merged be limited to a maximum of two. She commented that in

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addition to ensuring more open space and larger yards, two lots being merged can double the

40

side yards between houses. She stated that the preexisting side yard setbacks should be required

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PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES- EXCERPTS February 23, 2005

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4 D R A F T

to be retained when lots are merged. She indicated that such a regulation should have flexibility

1

so that the setbacks can be varied provided that they retain a minimum distance of 5 feet or more.

2

She commented that such a requirement would not affect the permitted BFA ratios. She stated

3

that she would agree that the larger homes should have a larger garage space requirement,

4

possibly related to the number of bedrooms in the homes.

5 6

Don McPherson, a resident of the 1000 block of 1st Street, stated that he disagrees that increased

7

side yard setbacks for merged lots should be restricted to new construction. He commented that

8

he would request that the requirements for increased setbacks be included for lot mergers even if

9

an existing building is retained and the setbacks are included with the new construction.

10 11

Commissioner Simon stated that he is in agreement with staff’s recommendations. He indicated

12

that he is also in favor of placing a strict limitation on the number of lots permitted to be merged,

13

and he feels restricting mergers to two lots is appropriate. He suggested also establishing criteria

14

to provide for cases where it would be appropriate for more than two lots to be merged. He

15

indicated that it would be appropriate to add a requirement for an additional garage space for

16

homes over a certain square footage.

17 18

Senior Planner Jester suggested that along with additional criteria, a public hearing could be

19

required for requests to merge more than two lots.

20 21

Commissioner Simon commented that he would also like for input to be encouraged from

22

architects who work in the community, and he suggested that they be provided with notice.

23 24

Commissioner Montgomery indicated that he would support restricting lot mergers to two lots.

25

He said that he feels reducing BFA is important, and he would support requiring merged lots to

26

retain existing side yard setbacks. He indicated that he would also support a requirement for

27

additional garage space for properties over a specified square footage.

28 29

Commissioner Kuch said that he agrees with the comments of staff and with the suggestion for

30

homes over a certain square footage having a requirement for additional garage space. He stated

31

that he also would support mergers not exceeding more than two lots. He indicated that the two

32

recommendations by staff for reducing the percentage of allowable BFA for merged lots and

33

providing for increased setbacks would allow the best control over lot mergers.

34 35

Commissioner Savikas indicated that limiting the number of mergers to two would help in the

36

consideration of BFA. She commented that if in fact homes on merged lots are not being built to

37

the maximum allowable, it may not be necessary to impose a large restriction on the BFA. She

38

suggested that the BFA for homes on merged lots possibly be permitted to 75 or 65 percent of

39

the maximum.

40 41

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PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES- EXCERPTS February 23, 2005

Page 5

5 D R A F T

Chairman O’Connor said that he would support a parking requirement for a 4-car garage for

1

homes of a certain size. He indicated that he would also support limiting mergers to two lots.

2

He commented that he would support reducing the percentage of BFA.

3 4

Director Thompson indicated that the Commissioners appear to support reducing the percentage

5

of BFA for homes on merged lots; increasing setbacks and redistributing setbacks that are lost

6

resulting from new development on merged lots; limiting of the number of lots that can be

7

merged administratively to 2 lots; and addressing a additional parking requirement (4-car garage)

8

for homes above a specified square footage.

9 10

Senior Planner Jester commented that there also appeared to be consensus for establishing

11

criteria and a notification requirement for proposals to merge more than two lots. She indicated

12

that an application process could be utilized for such proposals. She indicated that requests for

13

mergers over two lots could possibly be done through a Minor Exception process, which requires

14

neighbor notification, rather than a public hearing. She indicated that it would also be possible

15

to require a public hearing for merging more than three lots.

16 17

Senior Planner Jester said that the item will be coming back before the Commission as a public

18

hearing on March 23, 2005.

19 20

______________________________ _____________________________

21

RICHARD THOMPSON SARAH BOESCHEN

22

Secretary to the Planning Commission Recording Secretary

23

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CITY OF MANHATTAN BEACH

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT

TO: Planning Commission

THROUGH: Richard Thompson, Director of Community Development FROM: Laurie B. Jester, Senior Planner

DATE: February 23, 2005

SUBJECT: Discussion of City Council 2004-2005 Work Plan Item Regarding Residential Lot Mergers, to Review Current Regulations when two or more lots are Combined (City of Manhattan Beach)

RECOMMENDATION

Staff recommends that the Planning Commission DISCUSS the Lot Merger issue, provide direction to staff, and set a public hearing for March 23, 2005.

BACKGROUND

On February 21, 2004, the City Council held a special session and developed the 2004-2005 Work Plan which was formally adopted on March 2, 2004. On April 6, 2004 the City Council identified and prioritized five of these Work Plan Items assigned to the Community Development Department. On April 13, 2004 the City Council and Planning Commission held a joint Work Plan meeting to discuss and provide direction on the prioritized projects. At that meeting the subject Work Plan item was identified as the fifth priority item and staff indicated that it would be brought before the Planning Commission for discussion as staff resources and work load levels allowed.

On January 26, 2005 the Planning Commission discussed the Lot Merger Work Plan item, asked staff for additional information and requested that the item be brought back for further discussion. The Commission asked for photos and a discussion of merged lots, and lots that have not been merged but have the same owner as an adjacent property that is used as a yard area. The January 26th minutes are attached as Exhibit A.

DISCUSSION Overview and Issue

The Work Plan Item is to review current regulations pertaining to lot mergers to consider whether they are appropriate or if changes should be made to reduce “mansionization”. The issue that was discussed by the City Council was that larger homes can be constructed when 2 or more standard size lots are combined to create one large lot. The staff report and attachments from January 26th provide a complete discussion of the background and issues, and is attached as Exhibit B.

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2

As background, no regulations currently exist that limit the maximum square footage of homes, except for the maximum Buildable Floor Area (BFA), which is a percentage of the lot size.

Additionally, there are no limits on the maximum size of a lot. The trend has been as two or more standard size lots are merged, the homes tend not to maximize their BFA but provide more open yard area, and/or increased parking.

The City has approved an average of one lot merger per year over the past seven years. These applications are administratively approved if all of the Code standards are met when the lots are merged. Although the BFA’s are generally not maximized when lots are merged, the public view of new homes from the street is often more pronounced as the home, as well as the lot, is wider. Additionally, the pattern of development within a neighborhood is altered as there are new larger lots mixed in with the existing standard size lots, and the orientation of front yards may be altered.

The following is a list of addresses where two or more lots have been approved to be merged over the past seven years, although some have not actually been merged yet. Photos and a discussion of these lots will be provided at the Planning Commission meeting.

Merged Lots

250 Dianthus Street- (previously 1011 and 1015 Duncan Avenue) 212 Anderson- (merged with 218 Anderson)

1616 The Strand- (previously 1610 and 1614 The Strand) 1216 and 1220 The Strand- (under construction)

621 13th Street- (previously 617 and 621 13th Street) 113 and 119 S. Poinsettia (not merged yet)

525 and 533 15th Street (previously 525, 533 and 601 15th Street)

1015 1st Street (previously 1015 and 1019 1st Street and 1014 2nd Street)

In some instances a property owner will purchase an adjacent vacant lot or tear down the house on an adjacent lot and use the extra lot strictly for open space or parking without merging the two lots. In these cases accessory structures such as garages, pools, pool houses and guest houses are not allowed, as the Code requires that a lot may not have only accessory structures without first having a primary use (i.e. a house) on the lot. Other times these adjacent lots are developed with small homes and garages that serve as “guest houses” for the main house. These “guest houses” meet the zoning and building criteria for a single family home and therefore they are permitted as a primary use. Landscaping, sports courts, decks, patios, and other improvements that do not require a building permit may be constructed on these adjacent lots without merging the two parcels. In the future the “open space” lot could be developed with a new home since it is maintained as a separate legal parcel.

The following are examples of lots where a property owner has used an adjacent extra lot strictly for open space, parking, or a “guest house” without merging the two, or more, lots. Photos and a discussion of these lots will also be provided at the Planning Commission meeting.

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3

Lots that are not Merged

424 33rd Street (33rd and Vista Drive) 2200 and 2204 Agnes Road

814 Pacific Avenue, SE corner of Pacific Avenue and 9th Street, and 819 9th Street

301 16th Street and 304 16th Place 2200 and 2104 Palm Avenue Possible Solutions

Reduce Percentage of Buildable Floor Area (BFA)

A reduced BFA for merged lots could be imposed on each lot that is added to the original lot.

As an example, the area of the first, or original standard sized lot, would be allowed to develop 100% of the maximum BFA, the second lot would be allowed to develop a reduced percentage of the BFA, the third lot would have a further reduced BFA, and so on. The overall allowed BFA for the newly merged lots would be a combination of these allowed maximum BFA’s. Currently the maximum BFA ranges from 0.65% plus 240 square feet, to 1.7% of the lot area, depending on the Area District and lot size. The January 26th staff report provides a chart that identifies the maximum BFA based on Area Districts and Zones.

Several members of the Commission supported this approach at the last meeting. Staff is supportive of this approach as it allows flexibility for combining lots and allows diversity of lot sizes in a neighborhood. At the same time it addresses the concerns about the size of homes becoming too large on large lots and therefore being out of scale and character with the neighborhood. By reducing the BFA, additional open space will be provided on lots, reducing the visual mass of homes on larger lots. Staff believes that the size of the home in relationship to the size of the lot is the issue to be addressed, not limiting the size of the lot itself, and therefore supports reducing BFA on a percentage basis of the lot size and/or number of lots merged.

Increase setbacks

The Code generally requires sideyard setbacks that are equal to 10% of the width of the lot, with a range of 1 foot minimum to 5 feet maximum. When lots are merged, the 1 to 5 foot sideyard setbacks between the properties that are merged are eliminated and only the two exterior side setbacks remain. The front and rear setbacks remain the same for merged lots.

As an example, two forty-foot wide lots would have four sideyard setbacks, each 4 feet wide for a total width of 16 feet of sideyard setbacks. If these two lots are combined, the new 80 foot wide lot would have two 5 foot sideyard setbacks for a total width of 10 feet. The interior sideyard setbacks could potentially be redistributed to the new exterior side yards, so essentially the new exterior sideyards would be increased. Since often when lots are merged the existing home is retained and an addition is constructed, staff would suggest that these new setbacks be applied only to new construction.

The majority of the Commission voiced support of increased setbacks at the last meeting.

Staff would also support this approach as it creates more open area on a lot, reduces the

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4

impact of larger homes on neighboring properties, enhances view corridors, and addressees the scale and relationship of the house to the lot and the neighborhood.

Limit maximum square footage of lots

The Commission discussed the possibility of limiting the maximum lot size, and several Commissioners seemed to be supportive of this approach in combination with other regulations. The City Attorney reviewed this issue and determined that there would be no violation of the State Subdivision Map Act by limiting the maximum size of a lot. The minimum lot size for newly created lots is shown in the chart below. There are many lots that exist in town that are smaller than these minimums that are legal non-conforming, and in Area Districts III and IV there a number of “1/2 lots”.

Area District AD I AD II AD III and IV Minimum Lot Size-Square feet 7,500 SF 4,600 SF 2,700 SF

Staff has concerns with this approach, as the implications of limiting lot size are not clear, and staff believes that the size of homes in relationship to the size of the lot is the issue to be addressed, not limiting the size of the lot itself, and therefore believes that limiting lot size should be carefully considered.

Limit maximum square footage of homes

A maximum cap on square footage is another approach that could be considered. Currently there is no maximum square footage of homes other than BFA. The cap could be a flat number or reduced percentages for lots over a certain size. None of the Commissioners seemed to support this approach, and staff would not recommend this approach.

Limit number of lots that may be merged

Another approach could be to limit the number of lots that may be merged. Possibly a maximum of two standard lots could be combined, or this criteria could be combined with a square footage limit on the size of the merged lot.

At the last meeting one Commissioner felt that limiting mergers to two standard size lots may be appropriate, while several others felt that there should not be a limit on the number of lots that may be merged. Additionally, one Commissioner indicated that if more than two lots are merged that there should be additional criteria to ensure neighborhood character is maintained. Again staff has concerns with this approach, as limiting the number of lots that may be merged has essentially the same implications as limiting lot size. Staff believes that the size of a home in relationship to the size of the lot is the issue to be addressed, not limiting the number of lots that are merged or the size of the lot itself, and therefore would not support limiting the number of lots that may be merged.

Increase Open Space

In the RM and RH zones in the Beach Area, a minimum amount of open space is required.

For homes that are 2,333 square feet or less in area, a minimum of 15% of the BFA is required, but not less than 220 square feet. For homes that are over 2,333 square feet in area,

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5

a minimum of 350 square feet of open space is required. This existing requirement could be increased for merged lots. None of the Commissioners expressed support for this approach and staff would not recommend this approach.

Purpose, Criteria, and General Plan Policies

Additions to the purpose and criteria sections of the Code are important in order to relay the intent of the City Council and how that intent and goals are translated into Code requirements. Staff would suggest that language from the City Council Work Plan be added to the Purpose section and additional criteria tying in with the General Plan potentially could be added.

The Commission also discussed how the Work Plan item relates to the General Plan. Staff believes that the following Goals and Policies apply to the lot merger issue.

Goal LU-1: Maintain the low-profile development and smalltown atmosphere of Manhattan Beach.

Goal LU-2: Encourage the provision and retention of private landscaped open space.

Policy LU-2.2: Preserve and encourage private open space on residential lots citywide.

Goal LU-3: Achieve a strong, positive community aesthetic.

Goal LU-4: Preserve the features of each community neighborhood, and develop solutions tailored to each neighborhood’s unique characteristics.

CONCLUSION

Staff requests that the Planning Commission review the information provided within this report, discuss and provide direction to staff. Based on that direction, staff will then set the item for a public hearing on March 23rd, and provide suggested Code revision language. Staff supports further consideration for a reduction in BFA and greater setbacks, but not other restrictions.

EXHIBITS

A. Planning Commission Minutes- January 26, 2005 B. Staff Report and Attachments- January 26, 2005

H:\Work Plan 2004-2005\Lot Mergers\PC Report 2-23-05.doc

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CITY OF MANHATTAN BEACH

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION EXCERPTS

JANUARY 26, 2005

A regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the City of Manhattan Beach was held on

1

Wednesday, January 26, 2005, at 6:40 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, City Hall, 1400

2

Highland Avenue.

3

Excerpt

4

ROLL CALL

5 6

Chairman O’Connor called the meeting to order.

7 8

Members Present: Kuch, Montgomery, Savikas, Simon, Chairman O’Connor

9

Members Absent: None

10

Staff: Richard Thompson, Director of Community Development

11

Laurie Jester, Senior Planner

12

Alex Plascencia, Assistant Planner

13

Sarah Boeschen, Recording Secretary

14 15 16

PLANNING COMMISSION ITEMS

17 18

A. Discussion of City Council 2004-2005 Work Plan Item, Regarding Residential Lot

19

Mergers, to Review Current Regulations when Two or More Lots are Combined

20 21

Senior Planner Jester summarized the staff report. She said that the work plan item as defined by

22

the City Council is to review regulations regarding lot mergers to determine any changes that

23

should be made. She indicated that the main concern raised regarding the issue is

24

mansionization and large lots being created when two or more standard size lots are combined.

25

She said that staff is suggesting that the Commission focus on single family homes, and possibly

26

duplexes, rather than multi family homes. She said that there currently are no regulations

27

limiting the maximum square footage of homes except for maximum buildable floor area, which

28

is based on a percentage of the lot size. She said that the buildable floor area typically does not

29

reach the maximum for new homes built on merged lots, and mergers are generally requested to

30

increase parking and yard space. She said that approximately one lot merger per year is

31

approved, and mergers are approved by the Community Development Director provided the

32

Code standards are met. She commented that lot mergers do change the pattern of development

33

on streets.

34 35

Commissioner Kuch commented that a property owner who intends to merge lots and keep the

36

existing home may have difficulty if there are different setback requirements.

37 38

In response to a question from Commissioner Kuch, Senior Planner Jester indicated that mergers

39

often are done in order to accommodate additions that extend over the lot line. She said that

40

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PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES-EXCERPTS January 26, 2005

Page 2

2

staff is recommending that any new setback requirements that are established for merged lots

1

only apply to new construction.

2 3

Senior Planner Jester stated that possible solutions to addressing issues regarding mergers

4

include reducing the maximum allowable buildable floor area with the percentage being reduced

5

for each consecutive lot that is merged; limiting the maximum square footage of homes which

6

could either be set as an amount or a percentage of the size of the lot; increasing the amount of

7

setbacks for merged lots; increasing the open space requirement; limiting the number of lots that

8

are permitted to be merged; and creating a purpose and criteria section. She commented that if

9

the Commissioners wish to pursue establishing restrictions for lot mergers in the Code, staff is

10

recommending that that they support further consideration of a reduction in the buildable floor

11

area and greater setbacks. She indicated that staff is not recommending increasing open space or

12

limiting the number of lots that are merged.

13 14

In response to a question from Commissioner Montgomery, Senior Planner Jester indicated that

15

except for a series of very unusually configured lots on 15th Street, staff has not received any

16

requests for mergers of more than two lots.

17 18

Chairman O’Connor asked whether staff anticipates receiving requests for more than two lots

19

being merged in the future. He commented that the purpose of the work plan item is to consider

20

what may occur in the future rather than what has occurred in the past.

21 22

Director Thompson said that the concern is not necessarily with the merging of lots but with the

23

development of lots that are merged. He commented that the only reason a request would be

24

received to merge lots is if a development is planned. He commented that staff anticipates

25

requests to merge more than two lots will be made in the future.

26 27

Commissioner Savikas indicated that the history seems to be that requests for lot mergers have

28

for the most part been to allow for more yard area.

29 30

Director Thompson indicated that staff has found that typically the resulting development on

31

merged lots includes structures that are built to less than the maximum and provide greater open

32

space, greater setbacks, and greater yard area. He said that the concern has been that people will

33

purchase neighboring lots and build to the maximum allowable for each lot, which would be

34

allowed under the current Code.

35 36

Commissioner Kuch commented that increased setback requirements would limit applicants

37

from keeping existing homes on merged lots.

38 39

Senior Planner Jester said that it would be possible to have setback requirements only for new

40

construction on merged lots.

41

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PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES-EXCERPTS January 26, 2005

Page 3

3 1

Director Thompson indicated that staff chose to recommend regulations regarding setbacks and a

2

reduction in buildable floor area because those are existing requirements for single family homes

3

that could also be incorporated to apply to merged lots.

4 5

Commissioner Savikas said that staff has indicated that lot mergers have not been a problem in

6

the past and asked whether staff feels it is necessary to create guidelines to regulate lot mergers.

7 8

Director Thompson commented that there were other issues that the City Council felt were more

9

important than lot mergers because they have not historically created a problem; however, it was

10

felt that it was important enough to be discussed in order to possibly establish guidelines.

11 12

David Wachtfogel said that the time to prevent problems is before they occur, and waiting could

13

result in the Commission having to react to proposals after the fact. He indicated that he is

14

opposed to lot mergers because they allow for a different type of home than would be permitted

15

without them, which shapes the form of the City. He said that 25 years ago there would not have

16

been an indication that people would build to the maximum on their properties, and it later

17

became a very big problem. He stated that people will end up take advantage if limitations are

18

not placed on mergers. He commented that the Commission should consider what will happen in

19

the City in the future and whether or not they want it to happen.

20 21

In response to a question from Commissioner Kuch, Director Thompson indicated that

22

prohibiting lot mergers would not be the appropriate method of addressing the issue because

23

there are existing smaller lots within the City that can be merged to create a standard sized lot.

24

He said that the question is whether there should be a maximum lot size in the City or within

25

certain areas. He indicated that staff could bring information regarding the advantages and

26

problems of permitting a maximum lot size, if it is requested by the Commission.

27 28

Commissioner Savikas indicated that consideration of creating a maximum lot size should

29

include the input of the City Attorney.

30 31

Commissioner Simon stated that there are value judgments in allowing lot mergers in terms of

32

the benefit to the City. He said that his concern is the effect lot mergers have on neighborhoods

33

and the point at which mergers become a burden on the neighboring residents. He said that he

34

would be comfortable with permitting mergers of two lots, but he is less comfortable allowing

35

mergers of three lots because of the resulting change in character of the neighborhood. He

36

commented that he would have less concern with lots that are merged along The Strand than in

37

other portions of the City because of the character of the area. He said that preserving setbacks

38

to allow open space is important, and he would support extending the required setbacks for new

39

construction on merged lots. He commented that he would support providing for a maximum

40

coverage of the lot; however determining the appropriate maximum may be difficult.

41

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