Council Approves Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay

I am pleased to report that on Wednesday, Nov. 9, the City Council approved the Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay by a vote of 11-4. The overlay will give neighborhoods a tool to address incompatible, overly massive new construction in established neighborhoods.

The ordinance did not change substantively from what was posted on this website over the weekend. Here is a summary of the overlay tool:

Petition Requirement:
There are three ways to initiate an overlay:
1. Collect between 50%+1 to <75% of property owners’ signatures; get on the City Plan Commission agenda by paying a fee (like other zoning cases).
2. Collect 75% of property owners’ signatures or more; get on the Plan Commission agenda with no fee.
3. Get a Plan Commissioner or Councilmember to put the overlay on the agenda with no fee.
Time limit for collecting signatures:
0-49 homes: 3 mos.
50+ homes: 6 mos.
Minimum Area for Overlay:
50 lots – contiguous and compact area
Issues Addressed by Overlay:
–Height may be regulated if 60% or more of the property owners sign the petition.
–Height may NOT be regulated if less than 60% sign the petition (but the area may still get an overlay and regulate setbacks and garage placement).
–If the typical height of the homes in the overlay area is less than 20′, then the overlay area may select that as the maximum height. The area also has the option to select a height ranging from 20′ to the maximum allowed by zoning.
–If height is regulated, a “height slope” is required. (See the term sheet for a diagram.) This allows higher construction towards the back of the house but maintains the lower height at the front of the house.
>Front yard setback:
–Menu options range between typical setback and max allowed by zoning
>Side yard (right and left) and corner setbacks:
–Menu options range between typical setback and max allowed by zoning
–Entry: Rear/Front/Side
–Connection: Attached/Detached
–Location: Front/Rear/Side

Opponents to the overlay wanted to delay the vote so the council could (once again) be briefed on the issue. I argued that we had already had four public hearings on the issue, that the City had worked on the overlay for more than a year, and that it was time to move forward and vote on the overlay.

It really seemed that the only purpose of the proposed delay was to try to defeat the overlay or further compromise it. Proponent held firm, and when the opponents moved to delay the vote, they lost by a 6-9 vote (Voting to delay: MR, SS, BB, RN, LM, GG).

After several hours of discussion, I moved to approve the overlay ordinance. The ordinance passed by an 11-4 vote:
Voting in favor of the overlay: AH, EG, PM, EO, LK, GG, LM, DH, MTR, LC, JF
Voting against the overlay: MR, BB, SS, RN

This has been a long and difficult fight. I was troubled that a realtors representative, who has been actively involved in two meetings with me, two meetings with Councilmember Garcia, whose consultants had helped draft the compromise, and who was present at the final discussions on Monday, told the Council that his group had not been involved at all in overlay discussions and that they wanted more time to have input before we approved the overlay.

We drafted a compromise that, while imperfect, incorporated the concerns that were conveyed to us by realtors and builders. We now have an overlay tool that will allow neighborhoods to protect themselves from incompatible growth, if they choose to do so and if the overwhelming support is there.

The Development Services Department is going to prepare a packet of materials over the next month, and neighborhoods may begin applying for overlay status after mid-December.

My sincerest thanks to all of the neighborhood folks who turned out to support this, and to everyone who has been working so hard on this for many months. Your hard work and perseverance paid off!