Planners discuss changes

Daily Pilot

A question-and-answer session with Newport Beach city planners on Thursday addressed proposed zoning changes.

A shift from the old zoning code, which measured dwellings based on the square-footage, will now add "open space" requirements intending to reduce building volume while maintaining a degree of flexibility for homeowners and architects, according to the presentation by the city Planning Department.

The informal meeting was an open invitation for all Newport Beach residents to come out and address their concerns before the public hearing on the subject Tuesday at City Hall.

Old Corona del Mar may see the largest impact of the new zoning code, while Balboa Island and planned communities will not see any changes relating to how floor area is measured, Planning Department Director David Lepo said Friday.

"Residents are very comfortable with current standards," Lepo said of Balboa Island, explaining that homes have "homogeneity in lot size and volume," which residents' associations asked to be protected during the changeover to the new code and were approved by the Planning Commission.

The move away from measuring based on set floor-area dimensions to new volume and "open space" requirements will not be that noticeable to homeowners and only affect new development projects (new dwellings and additions), he added.

At the public meeting, Principal Planner Jim Campbell presented a series of simplified graphs and graphics to an audience of roughly 40 Newport Beach homeowners.

Translating the relatively dense architectural concepts, Campbell explained that while total volume may decrease under the new zoning code, homeowners will actually see increased floor area.

Citywide, homeowners will see procedural changes, such as how roof height is measured. The change is intended to make inspections easier on the architects and the homeowners, Campbell said.

Other changes will include a requirement for a third covered space in a garage for dwellings with more than 4,000 square feet and an increased setback of 10 feet when the home is up against a narrow alley.

The new code will not stop homeowners from building a third floor or basements, Campell said.

However, the potential for increased cars worried Corona del Mar resident Karen Tringali.

"If you accommodate more parking, you'll have more cars, which leads to more traffic," she said.

As a member of her neighborhood residents' association, Tringali was concerned that the new code may not be in the best interest of Corona del Mar, which residents wish to maintain a "village-like" atmosphere.

"If the new code can address satisfactorily these issues, then I'm sure residents will support it," she said.

Also attending the meeting was Corona del Mar resident Chuck Hardy, who was concerned about the implications of new measuring procedures might have on his home.

"If I ever want to sell [my home], I need to know whether this is going to have a profound effect on the site for a new buyer who might want to knock it down and rebuild," Harding said Friday.

Harding noted that the meeting left him unclear as to whether there would be set space allocations for duplex units.

"Typically the front unit is larger than the back unit, but what will be the limitations in the new code?" he asked.

Lepo said that as long as the duplex meets the new developmental standards, it will be up to the property owner to decide how to use the space in creating duplex units.

Although the meeting was a good place to start, Harding said, "[The Planning Department] needs to have another session to clarify some of these items before they can move forward with this thing."

Almost an hour's worth of questions from concerned homeowners were noted and answered to the best of the ability of the city Planning Commission at the meeting.

The commission's next step is to compile the answers to the most prevailing concerns and get that information out to the public and City Council, Lepo said.

The information will be posted on the Planning Department website as soon as possible, Lepo said.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World