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New story limit language seems acceptable to all


Last updated 4/3/2008 at Noon

New language to address a residential story limit has been added to the potential clean-up and clarification language to the county’s Zoning Ordinance, and the change approved 7-0 March 21 by the county’s Planning Commission is apparently acceptable to all involved.

“It’s really a hundred percent better,” said Planning Commissioner David Kreitzer.

During the Planning Commission’s March 7 meeting, the rest of the clean-up and clarification items were recommended for approval, but the proposed exemption from a story limit was deferred after comments from Valle de Oro Community Planning Group chair Jack Phillips.

“We listened carefully to Mr. Phillips,” said Glenn Russell of the county’s Department of Planning and Land Use.

Section 4615 of the county’s Zoning Ordinance currently states that when the average slope of a lot is greater than one foot rise or fall in seven feet in the area of the lot bounded by a line drawn five feet outside the building perimeter, or along property lines if closer, an additional story may be permitted in a residential building located on the downhill side of a street provided that the building does not exceed the maximum permissible height.

Basements and cellars within such buildings are only permitted if the grade elevation at all points adjacent to the basement perimeter does not exceed two feet below the finished floor elevation directly above.

The allowance does not apply to through lots or corner lots.

The initial proposed language would have exempted a main dwelling with a primary residential use from a maximum story limit as long as the main dwelling complies with the maximum height limit.

The Department of Planning and Land Use proposed the amendment to eliminate the interpretation of whether an attic, basement, or crawl constituted a separate story.

Phillips expressed concern that homeowners could add third and fourth stories by right.

The new language allows an additional story to be permitted in a main dwelling with the issuance of an administrative permit while limiting the dwelling to the maximum permitted height.

Notice of the administrative permit application will be given to all property owners within 300 feet of the applicant’s property.

The administrative permit may be approved if findings are made that the additional story will be in harmony with the scale and bulk of similarly-zoned dwellings on adjacent properties, that the additional story will be compatible with existing neighborhood character in the vicinity, and that the additional story will not create a safety hazard or impair views to surrounding properties.

The new language also stipulates that proposed or existing basements within the main dwelling are not considered a story.

“We think that one is okay,” Russell said.

The amendments to the Zoning Ordinance are scheduled to be heard by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors on April 23.


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