Apr 15 2018

More Changes to Building and Land Use Requirements in Chapter 17

Piedmonters ususally find out when they remodel their homes or their neighbors make changes to their homes how important Chapter 17 is to them. 

Few Piedmonters ever participate by attending meetings or writing letters about land use and planning issues until it impacts them. No sooner had Piedmont Chapter 17 undergone massive changes and revisions, when new changes and revisions are proposed. Once more there has been little general public participation in the considerations.

At its regular meeting on Monday, April 16, 2018, 7:30 p.m., the Piedmont City Council will consider an ordinance adopting revisions to City Code Chapter 17, Planning and Land Use, to implement various technical refinements and corrections.

There are a number of items of concern: 

Proposed language: ” Zoning Map Amendment Publish notice in newspaper of general circulation within the City.”Subject to section 17.62.030, subsections A and C.”

Changing the Zoning Map is required by the City Charter  to go on a Piedmont ballot, yet the City Charter is not recognized in the language change. The new language is in conflict with the City Charter of requiring voter approval for items placed on a ballot always require public information to be provided to voters prior to an election.  

The agenda for the City Council meeting and the staff report for this agenda item are available through the City’s website or at City Hall.

In sum, the ordinance under consideration includes various recommended technical corrections and refinements throughout City Code Chapter 17, Planning and Land Use. After staff  implemented the comprehensive update to City Code Chapter 17, Planning and Land Use, which went into effect on April 19, 2017, a number of inconsistencies and minor errors have revealed themselves. In addition, putting the regulations into practice has revealed the need for the refinement of a few sections and subsections to add clarity. This is expected with such a comprehensive update.

The recommended refinements address the following issues:

Parking space size and specifications

Requiring 12 inches between the side of a parking space and the nearest wall or similar obstruction so that drivers and passengers have adequate room to maneuver into and out of a car parked in a garage or carport.

Planning Department explanation: “The minimum parking space dimensions are: 8-1/2 feet x 18 feet, or 7-1/2 feet x 15 feet for compact car. A minimum 1-foot clearance must be provided between the length side of a parking space and the nearest wall or similar obstruction.”

SECTION 8 AMENDMENT OF SUBSECTION 17.38.060.B.5.a Subsection 17.38.060.B.5.a of the City Code is amended to read as follows: “a. Parking. When a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is demolished in conjunction with the construction of an accessory dwelling unit or converted to an accessory dwelling unit, any required replacement parking spaces may be located in any configuration on the lot except that the spaces may not be located within the 20-foot street setback. (Gov’t. Code §65852.2 (a)(1)(D)(xi).)”

When the prior revisions were approved by the City Council, concern over more cars forced onto Piedmont’s streets already lined with parked cars, drew opposition regarding the reduction in parking size requirements. The Planning Department anticipates smaller vehicles in Piedmont and thus recommended the reduced size, which has presented problems.  It is unknown if the new 1-foot clearance will be sufficient to avoid adding more cars on Piedmont streets.  

Sign Design Review Permit

Reinstituting a design review permit and design standards specific to signs on private nonresidential properties.

Parking requirements related to Accessory Dwelling Units

Making Piedmont’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance consistent with state laws by deleting the prohibition of replacement parking spaces within the 20-foot street yard setback. The City may require replacement parking for the primary dwelling when a garage or carport is demolished for or converted to an Accessory Dwelling Unit.

The scheduling of City Council hearings after a Planning Commission recommendation

Allowing for expeditious processing and thorough preparation in response to appeals, appeals are to be scheduled at least 45 days after the filing of an appeal but all other matters are to be scheduled for the next available regular City Council meeting.

PROPOSED CHANGE:If this chapter requires a City Council hearing, the hearing will be scheduled for the next available regular City Council meeting unless the hearing is for an appeal, in which case the hearing will be scheduled at least 45 calendar days after the filing of an appeal of the Planning Commission recommendation.”

The “all other matters” issue scheduled for “the next available regular City Council meeting” arose recently in December after the City Council took up a sublease of public property within 7 days following a hearing by the Planning Commission made a recommendation regarding a Conditional Use Permit.  A number of residents stated the matter had not been sufficiently noticed in a newspaper to allow the public time to learn about the sublease and fully participate.  Some Piedmonters accused the City of avoiding public involvement during the busy holiday season due to a lack of desire for public input.  The proposed change would legislate fast action on public issues and a potential continuation of exclusion on important matters like a Conditional Use Permit that changes the use of a property.

The definition of Floor Area

Clarifying what areas within a building’s envelope are considered floor area and would be subject to the floor area ratio limits so that new additions to buildings do not circumvent the City’s regulatory goals of limiting the bulk of a house in relation to the size of the lot and encouraging development within the existing envelope.

PROPOSED CHANGE REASONS: In order to encourage development within the existing building envelope instead of building outwards or upwards, the floor area ratio standard is not applied to finishing an area into habitable space if: (1) there is no expansion of the exterior building envelope; and (2) the owner has not obtained a final inspection within the prior three years on a building permit issued for an expansion of the building envelope. 

There is no mention of digging down below grade.

The Planning Department states, “Recognizing that the proposed revisions are improvements to Chapter 17, Planning and Land Use, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval at its regular meeting of March 12, 2018. The Commission felt that the changes would eliminate inconsistencies, clarify the regulations for the benefit of property owners and their design professionals, and would better meet the goals of the City’s General Plan.”

Written comments may be submitted to the City Council via email at citycouncil@ci.piedmont.ca.us or via US Mail addressed to City Clerk John Tulloch at 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611.

Read the staff report.

If you have any questions related to the information provided in the staff report, please contact Kevin Jackson, Planning Director, at (510) 420-3039 orkjackson@piedmont.ca.us.

One Response to “More Changes to Building and Land Use Requirements in Chapter 17”

  1. An Open Government Ordinance, extending the minimum three-day Brown Act notice, is particularly appropriate for Piedmont where community involvement and feedback is theoretically the cornerstone of all legislative action. Extending noticing to seven days (or Berkeley’s OGO 11 days) would allow time for the community to digest and respond to critical matters. A longer notice period would eliminate future rushed through actions such as the December CUP hearing described in the PCA article.

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