|Danny was out of town and couldn't attend.|
But by the end of the meeting the crowd of 35 or so people that had shown up and did the right thing dwindled to less than ten by the conclusion of the evening's activities. Poor party planning perhaps. Or maybe the beer ran out. That will always clear a room.
Superficial and unnecessarily gratuitous complaints aside, I have to say that the Planning Commission seemed to do the right thing last night. Seemed to do the right thing because until we get a good look at the fully realized ordinance on February 5th, I can't be quite sure. You shouldn't be either. Certainly things are going to be much improved, but perhaps not quite as much as many in attendance had hoped. But who really knows for sure? As John Hutt noted, the devil is in the details.
One very good result is that a Conditional Use Permit (CUP for the acronymically inclined) will now be required for any hoped for home with a second story on it. Commissioner Matt Buckles was very good on this matter and brought it home. A tip of the Tattler hat. This is a great way to incentivize one story homes as any wannabe wickiup with a second story will now be subject to a required Planning Commission review, and all that it entails.
In my humble opinion this remedy is a direct result of the Camillo Road disaster. Had that two stories of fun been forced to undergo the scrutiny of the Planning Commission it is quite probable it would never have seen the light of day. Or the darkness of night, either. Certainly it deserved neither.
Future LULU projects such as Camillo Road would likely never survive the kind of thorough vetting a visit to Council Chambers on a Thursday evening will bring. This is a new and very important addition to community planning here.
All the developer needed to do was shovel money over the counter at City Hall for permits, which is a whole other story.
Here's another point. Currently any news of a project coming in at 4,000-ish square feet does not have to be shared with the community. Meaning that you could wake up one unhappy day in the shade of two stories and 4,000 square feet of somebody else's mini-mansion glory, and never even knew it was coming. Some people in this town have, and were quite unpleasantly surprised.
That threshold number will now decrease to somewhere around 3,000 to 3,200 square feet. I use the term "around" because this is apparently to be a graduated scheme that will depend upon things like the size and width of the lot. Which means is that for a house to actually get built after this new system is put into place, and without being subjected to Planning Commission review, it will need to be less than (approximately) 3,000 to 3,200 square feet, and just one single story.
I am not sure our local McMansion lovers are going to be too much in love with that one. Throw in the new General Plan and "floor area ratio" calculations (also worked out last night to the benefit of this community), and what goes on in Arcadia will stay in Arcadia.
The way it incentivizes smaller houses is that people will try and stay below that size threshold so they don’t have to go through a rigorous and potentially costly Planning Commission review process. A smaller threshold (like 3,000 square feet, or 3,200 on bigger lots), along with that one story requirement, will help make for smaller houses.
There is no doubt that 3,200-ish square feet is plenty damn big enough. But many more projects will hit that now lower threshold and be required to come before the Planning Commission for approval. Which is the way it ought to be. No bodacious big barns should ever be built in Sierra Madre without having had to face the community first.
Formerly ignored neighbors will now be empowered, and property owner rights for people who actually live here fully restored and strengthened.
Commissioner Frierman-Hunt added a huge element to the mix when she pushed for and succeeded in getting a finding for strengthening neighborhood compatibility. Any new home coming before the Planning Commission for approval will now need to be deemed compatible with the surrounding neighborhood to win. A beautiful thing.
All in all some pretty good results. Not perfect, but not bad either. But like I said, let's wait until we get to look over the resulting new ordinance language on February 5th before getting out the Yahtzee board and funny hats. And if it isn't right then? We can always appeal the matter to the City Council. That's worked before.
Oh, and the Leticia Cardoso fan club continues to grow. She was prepared and fully in charge of all the material.
I'll bet she plays a mean game of poker.