2004 Resolution on the Rezone – Highlighted

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COUNTY OF SAN MATEO

Inter-Departmental Correspondence

ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES AGENCY

DATE:

November 17, 2004

SET TIME:

9:30 a.m.

BOARD MEETING DATE:

December 7, 2004
TO: Honorable Board of Supervisors
FROM: Marcia Raines, Director of Environmental Services
SUBJECT: Consideration of an amendment to the County Zoning Regulations to create the “S-74” zoning district regulations and consideration of rezoning lands zoned R-1/S-7 in the Selby Neighborhood (Sequoia Tract) to R-1/S-74 to control house size and height.
County File Number: PLN 2004-00545
RECOMMENDATION
1. Adopt, by ordinance, the “S-74” zoning district regulations as an amendment to the County Zoning Regulations.
2. Rezone, by ordinance, lands in the R-1/S-7 zoning district in the Selby Neighborhood (Sequoia Tract) to R-1/S-74 as shown on Exhibit A.
PROPOSAL
Residents in the Selby Neighborhood (Sequoia Tract), which lies between Redwood City and Atherton, have requested that the County adopt new zoning regulations to: (1) reduce the permitted size of houses by establishing maximum building floor areas, (2) reduce the permitted building height, and (3) establish daylight planes to control the bulk and shape of houses.
BACKGROUND
The Selby Neighborhood in the Sequoia Tract is comprised of modest single-family homes on predominately 5,000 sq. ft. parcels. There are some larger parcels that are 10,000 to 20,000 sq. ft. in size. The area is semi-rural in character with mature landscaping. Many residents have lived in the neighborhood for a long time. Households are mostly comprised of families and retired couples.
Over the past three years, several modest homes have been torn down and replaced with substantially larger houses. Some large parcels have been subdivided and developed with large houses. These new houses range in size from 3,000 to 6,000 sq. ft. They now sporadically appear from block to block. Residents are concerned that the character of the neighborhood will be significantly altered if larger and larger houses continue to be built.
Several meetings have been held in the neighborhood to discuss this issue. Residents have agreed that new zoning regulations are needed to control house size, height, and bulk. County planning staff was asked to bring the new regulations and the proposed rezoning to the Planning Commission for a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.
DISCUSSION
A. PREVIOUS ACTION
On November 10, 2004, the Planning Commission voted 5-0 recommending approval of the proposed rezoning.
B. KEY ISSUES
1. Maximum Building Floor Area
The current R-1/S-7 zoning regulations allow a 7,200 sq. ft. house on a 5,000 sq. ft. parcel. The proposed new regulations would allow a maximum house size of 2,600 sq. ft. on a 5,000 sq. ft. parcel which is much more in scale with the majority of existing houses in the neighborhood.
Residents want to preserve the existing character of the neighborhood. If larger and larger houses continue to be built, the appearance of the neighborhood will become more urban, dense, and crowded. Larger homes will obtrusively stand out in sharp contrast to smaller ones. The varying volumes of houses will visually and aesthetically destroy the harmonious scale of buildings in the neighborhood.
2. Maximum Building Height
The current zoning allows a building height of 36 feet or three stories. The proposed new regulations would reduce allowable building height to 28 feet or two stories.
Three-story houses can overwhelm neighboring one- and two-story houses. They can cast long, dark shadows and invade privacy. A lot of tall houses in the neighborhood would contribute to destroying the harmonious scale of buildings in the neighborhood.
3. Daylight Plane
The current zoning regulations do not require daylight planes. The proposed new regulations would set the maximum height of a house along the side setbacks at 16 feet at which point the house would inwardly slant at 45 degrees until the maximum height of 28 feet was reached.
Daylight planes reduce the impact of tall walls looming over neighboring houses and yards. They help protect privacy and prevent the blockage of sunlight.
C. ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW
Adoption of these regulations is exempt from review under the California Environmental Quality Act under 14 California Code of Regulations Section 15061(b)(3) because there is no possibility that the regulations, which impose further restrictions on development of property, will have the potential for causing a significant effect on the environment, in that they are more protective of the environment than prior regulations.
D. REVIEWING AGENCIES
County Counsel
VISION ALIGNMENT
The rezoning keeps the commitment of offering a full range of housing choices and goal number 9, housing exists for people at all income levels and for all generations of families. The rezoning contributes to this commitment and goal by providing limitations on house size that prevents overly sized and very high cost housing.
FISCAL IMPACT
There would be no cost to the County to implement these regulations.
ATTACHMENTS
A. Ordinance to establish R-1/S-74 zoning district regulations
B. Ordinance to rezone land in Selby Neighborhood from R-1/S-7 to R-1/S-74

MR:MD:fc – MLDO1341_WFU.DOC