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Issue date: June 16, 2000

City moves to create design zones City moves to create design zones (June 16, 2000)

By Karen Willemsen

Representatives of the Old Mountain View and the Monta Loma neighborhood associations addressed the city council at its June 13 meeting, requesting the creation of a process by which neighborhoods could protect their architectural integrity.

While Mountain View does have several individual historic homes protected by state and federal regulation, there are currently no such rules in force to ensure a uniform architectural design scheme in any given neighborhood in the city.

The city council discussed establishing a process by which interested neighbors can petition to form a "Neighborhood Design Overlay Zone" that would require homeowners to preserve the unique architectural characteristics of their homes. Features to be preserved could include anything from a home's chimney placement, to decorative moldings, to height limits.

Garth Williams of the Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association and Brian Glass of the Monta Loma Neighborhood Association both spoke in support of neighborhood design overlay zones.

The process would involve neighbors signing a petition to submit to the council for zone designation. A fee of $1,600 would be assessed per overlay zone designated.

Williams asked the council to simplify the process for requesting a design overlay zone, but he took umbrage at paying a process fee. "Why have fees for applying? It seems to me that's just a barrier to doing this," Williams said. Glass, on the other hand, agreed with the plan, including the proposed $1,600 fee.

The council deliberated about the process and how many signatures would be required on a petition. Councilman Mike Kasperzak favored strict requirements for assessing neighborhood support. He argued that it should be an "onerous" process so that people will take it seriously.

Mayor Rosemary Stasek agreed. "When we're restricting someone's right to do what they want with their property, there'd better be a good reason," she said.

The council approved the concept of establishing the design overlay zone with a simple majority of signatures on the petition. The city council will vote at its June 27 meeting on whether to pass the following Neighborhood Design Overlay Zone process: 1 ) 51 percent of the property owners in a given area must sign a petition in favor of the design zone; 2) the area must constitute a "defined geographic unit," such as a city block, cul-de-sac, facing street sides, or an entire subdivision; 3) 51 percent of the homes in the area must have the features that would merit design zone; 4) the city will send ballots to all homeowners in that area, and 67 percent of respondents must the sign the official application; and, 5) homeowners together must pay the $1,600 fee, which will cover approximately half the cost of creating the zone. 


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