Who says détente is dead?
Recently, the Redwood City Planning Commission, sensing their own was brewing (written tongue firmly in cheek), wisely decided to defer action on a proposal to severely curtail house sizes based on Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for sloped lots in the RH zone.
Now if all that jargon makes your head do the backstroke – you’re not alone. Here are the basics: RH is zoning code shorthand for Residential Hillside. FAR is a formula whereby the total gross floor area of a home on a hillside lot is calculated factoring in the slope of the lot.
Basically, you subtract a variety of ‘non-livable spaces’ (such as the garage,
stairwells and closets) as well as setbacks and environmental considerations
(fairly pro forma); adjust for the angle of lot’s slope and voila! – what’s left
is the house you get to build.
A vocal and rightfully angry cadre of citizens, current homeowners and affected property owners with lots they have yet to improve all showed up to protest the new restrictions.
(Remember, there is an FAR formula already in play in Redwood City. The proposal would put a chokehold on those regulations.)
And since the RH designation is part of the city’s zoning code, the change would apply to all RH zones on a citywide basis. (In the interest of full disclosure, there were a couple of folks who actually supported the new restrictions.)
In the proverbial nutshell, planning staff proposed to limit the size of a home that one can build on their own property to, ostensibly, 1,500 square feet.
Just as impactful, there will be severe limits placed on new and remodeled projects. Many existing homeowners will not be able to make any new additions and, while assured by staff that a person’s home could be rebuilt/remodeled as a result of a catastrophe (a fire, for example), there is no guarantee you would be able to build the same size house you previously enjoyed. The proposal grew out of the .
The Planning Commissioners are to be commended for their foresight (and response to the public outcry) in not forwarding the item to the City Council and directing staff to set up further study sessions and public meetings. Of course, the logical action would be to simply reject the proposal and continue evaluating RH structures on a case-by-case basis.