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Costa Mesa Planning Commission will again review proposed changes to city small-lot ordinance

The Costa Mesa Planning Commission will discuss possible revisions to the city’s small-lot ordinance during a special meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, pictured.
(File Photo)

The Costa Mesa Planning Commission is again set to review proposed changes to the city’s long-debated small-lot ordinance during a special meeting Thursday.

Commissioners will comb through two sets of potential revisions to the ordinance, which as currently designed eases development standards for proposals of 15 or fewer detached homes in areas zoned for multifamily units.

Option A follows earlier direction from the City Council and would modify development standards for projects processed under the ordinance to make them consistent with those for common-interest developments such as condominiums.

Doing so would require small-lot projects in some cases to provide more open space and additional parking or greater distance between buildings.


However, planning commissioners balked at advancing that proposal in April. Some questioned whether the envisioned standards would be too stringent and whether other alterations should be considered.

To that end, staff crafted Option B, which would still compel small-lot projects to provide more open space and greater distance between buildings than is currently required. However, the standards would remain below the thresholds set for common-interest developments.

The alternative proposal also would create additional standards regarding driveway and lot width on certain properties — specifically “flag lots” with long driveways and those that are accessible via an alley.

Whatever recommendation the commission makes, the final decision on how to change the small-lot rules rests with the City Council.


Since the ordinance’s adoption in 2014, critics have said it allows excessive and overly dense development that has exacerbated parking and traffic problems and negatively affected the look and character of local neighborhoods.

Supporters, however, contend the ordinance encourages redevelopment and creation of new housing on underused land and that its detractors are exaggerating.

The city has approved 165 units under the small-lot ordinance, and those projects combined will create 54 net additional units, with some existing units cleared to make way for new ones, according to a city staff report.

Thursday’s commission meeting starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 77 Fair Drive.

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