On Tuesday, September 13, 2016 you will be considering some changes to the R-1 Zone that were recommended by the Planning Commission. We have reviewed the Staff Report and Preserve Sierra Madre takes the official position of respectfully recommending that you approve all of the changes made by the Planning Commission in their entirety. Upon careful examination, we have found these changes to be intelligent, reasonable and, most importantly, consistent with the updated General Plan.
While we never want the City Council to simply rubber stamp the actions and recommendations of the Planning Commission, in this case we believe such a rubber stamp is warranted. We are sure that a lot of time and effort went into these commonsense improvements, and we think the results are a good one. We also thank the Planning Commission for their time and efforts.
For the benefit of our supporters who will all be bcc'd on this email, the summary of what will be addressed was copied from the City's eBlast and is offered below:
City Council Consideration of Amendments to the R-1 (One Family) Zone
At the City Council meeting on September 13, 2016 the City Council will introduced for first reading Ordinance 1379, amending Chapters 17.20 R-1 (One-Family Residential) Zone and Chapter 17.08 – Definitions of the Sierra Madre Municipal Code.
The revisions to Chapter 17.20 of the City of Sierra Madre Municipal Code include:
- The establishment of maximum allowable floor area specific to new lots and lots reconfigured through lot line adjustments;
- New minor lot line adjustment provisions;
- New requirements for minimum frontage for lots located at the end of a cul-de-sac and for lots accessed by a shared private driveway;
- New diagrams illustrating the requirements for lots accessed by a shared driveway and prohibited/permitted lot configurations for lot splits, and
- Elimination of flood control easement areas in the calculation of lot area for purposes of calculating maximum allowable floor area.
If the proposed amendments are adopted by the City Council, a second reading of Ordinance 1379 will be scheduled before the City Council at the September 27, 2016 City Council meeting. The ordinance will become effective on October 27, 2016.
Thank you for your consideration.
Preserve Sierra Madre
9AM Update from Preserve Sierra Madre
(Mod: This went out as a later addition to the above.)
The email below was written by one of our Steering Committee members and goes into some detail about one of the issues that will be discussed at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, September 13th at 6:30 pm. The City Council will be voting on whether to approve the unanimous recommendations of our Planning Commission and City Staff to further amend the R-1 zone of the Municipal Code so that it is aligned with and consistent with the General Plan. Preserve Sierra Madre supports these changes and we would urge our City Council to adopt them in their entirety.
You can show your support by emailing the City Council or coming to the City Council meeting.
Thank you for your support.
Preserve Sierra Madre
Dear Mayor Goss and City Council Members:
There are a number of issues that the Planning Commission is addressing in their proposed amendments to the R-1 Zone which you will discuss at your City Council meeting on September 13th. I would like to briefly address what I consider the most important of all the recommendations and that is the issue of lot splits. As one of the founding members of Preserve Sierra Madre, my goal has always been to preserve the unique character of Sierra Madre. That character is manifested in such things as the eclectic nature of our architecture and the mix of big and small homes and big and small lots. I believe that the goals of Preserve Sierra Madre are also consistent with the directives found in the recently updated General Plan.
If it was up to me, my solution to dealing with the issue of lot splits would have been to simply increase the minimum lot size from 7,500 square feet to perhaps 10,000 square feet. That would mean only lots 20,000 square feet or more could be split. I'm sure the Planning Commission had valid reasons for recommending a different approach than mine which was more draconian in prohibiting lot splits entirely for certain sized lots. Instead, the Planning Commission wants to keep the minimum lot size alone but remove the huge incentive a developer would have to split a larger lot that allows a certain size home to be built into two or more smaller lots with houses on them that significantly increase the aggregate square footage of what can be built.
If we leave things the way they are by rejecting the unanimous recommendation of our Planning Commission as well as the recommendation to approve the Planning Commission's recommendation on lot splits by the City Staff, you would be effectively promoting the demolition of those existing homes on lots of 15,000 square feet or more, increasing density by having two homes or more rather than one (even though that one could be a larger home, it would still leave more open space on the same amount of land than if you had two or more homes with more square footage) and it would reduce the diversity of our neighborhoods with its mix of big and small homes and big and small lots.
Bigger lots would over time become smaller lots with more houses packed into the same area. As a long-time realtor, I can assure you that developers will be literally searching for homes that come up for sale that have lots of 15,000 or more square feet and can be split and you would virtually guarantee that they will demolish what's there, split the lot and build two or more homes where there used to be only one home on one lot.
The Planning Commission's recommendation in reducing the size of the home that you can build on each one of the split lots, just moves the needle from an obvious decision by a developer to split the lot to one that is more of a tougher call because the financial incentives are not so weighted on the side of splitting the lot. That to me is a good thing if we truly want to preserve the character of our town and remain consistent with our General Plan.
I can only implore you to ask a lot of questions of the City Staff, City Attorney and any of the Planning Commissioners who may attend your meeting before you make your decision.
Matthew N. Bryant