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Who’s City Is It Anyway???

Original post made by Ogaz Family on Apr 25, 2011

There is a project proposal at the N.E. corner of Sonia Way and Castro Streets which all property owners should be aware of. A developer bought a very narrow piece of property in the R-1 zoning district which has only an 11' wide buildable space along the entire length of the property. At the time of purchase, the developer was fully aware of these constraints. This remnant parcel is half the size of the other lots in this subdivision and yet he is proposing to build a house larger than the original houses that were built on full size lots. He is applying for a permit to build a two story 1735 sq.ft house/garage on this lot!! The property is a corner lot that is only 32' wide by 125' long with several utility poles and other easement constraints. At several meetings the neighborhood residents have clearly stated that they felt the house was too big for the lot, that a much smaller house would be more appropriate. They felt that the proposed development did not blend into the neighborhood which is very low density with mostly single story 1200 sq. ft residences. This development has the look of a very urban, high density townhouse and would be out of place next to a traditional single family neighborhood. This house went before the Development Review Committee two times and the house was never significantly downsized. The developer reduced the size of the second floor but increased the length and width of the house proportionately so in effect, he did not reduce the house size at all. Also, corner houses, by city code are required to be built 15' back of the property line. This house cannot meet this code requirement and would sit very close to the property line along Castro Street for the entire 60' of the house! The developer is looking to be granted a variance on this code requirement because the house width goes beyond his buildable space.
We feel that the development process does not represent the neighborhoods well. The staff and the developer drive the direction of development and the residents and taxpayers are not being heard. The staff and the developer will not have to live near this house yet they are the ones that have a "place at the table". The residents who are affected by a project should have a real voice and be heard, yet in reality they have minimal impact. This process needs to react to and be sensitive to the community needs. In the city's own description of the Development Review Committee, it states that one of its purpose's is to 'determine if a project will be compatible with the site and surrounding developments by evaluating the project as it relates to the character of the neighborhood, the massing of the building structure and the architectural style and detailing'. This has not been happening. The input of the residents is muted. The developer had a meeting with the local residents a few weeks ago, looking for input on his project but he ultimately turned in his plans to the city a few days later with no changes made in response to the critical comments voiced at the meeting.
There is a last Public Hearing in front of the Zoning Administrator specifically on the variance considerations for this project and any other issues relating to this development. Please attend this last Hearing on this development April 27th at 4:00 p.m. in the Plaza Conference Room at City Hall, so the city will realize that resident voters do want a say in the development of their city and not just what city Staff thinks we should have. The project plans are available for review at the city planning counter. Come to the meeting and give your input and support!!

Comments (1)

Posted by Loretta Merry, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I am in total disagreement with the proposal for a variance to be allowed to construct such a large house on such a small piece of property. Sonia Way and Miramonte. Enough is enough! Does the city or the contractor really have the right to see that every piece of open space be occupied by "giant" and ugly homes on small lots? We already have plenty of those, one being right next door to me. I can no longer see blue sky and the tops of trees from my kitchen window. Instead, I now look into the side of a tall, unattractive home unpainted stucco with only 10" between us. It is less than ideal. I may as well be living in a high rise in NYC. It would have served the city well to have kept the Sonia Way/Miramonte property as green and open space with a nice area for neighbors and visitors to enjoy on a nice day. A small quiet spot for reflecting and enjoying the outdoors would be more appropriate for such a small area. I hope you will consider what impact this will have on the many residents and neighbors in the area.


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