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    City Staff Seeks Temporary Moratorium On Density-Boosting "Bedroom Splitting"

    (January 3, 2005, revised Jan. 4) -- While LB's Planning Commission mulls a city staff proposal responding to concerns voiced by Councilmembers Patrick O'Donnell and Bonnie Lowenthal over density impacts of "bedroom splitting," city staff is proposing a temporary prohibition on alteration of multi-family dwelling units that creates additional bedrooms on sites with nonconforming parking.

    In November, Councilmembers Bonnie Lowenthal and Patrick O'Donnell requested that the zoning ordinance be changed and that the City report back within 60 days. In December, the Planning Commission took testimony, continued the matter to allow more time to research and get public input before making a recommendation...and requested that the Council institute a temporary moratorium until further study is conducted and the Ordinance is changed.

    In a memo accompanying the item agendized for the January 4th Council meeting, City Hall's Acting Director of Planning & Building, Fady Matar, writes in pertinent part:

    At the November 23, 2004 meeting, the City Council directed the Planning Commission to consider amendments to the Zoning Ordinance to address the growing trend of remodeling the interior of existing multi-family residential units to create additional bedrooms. In many cases, these units are nonconforming with respect to parking, density, and usable open space, and creating additional bedrooms exacerbates these nonconformities. Due to the increasing prevalence of these interior remodels, the City Council directed that an amendment be returned within 60 days.

    At the December 16, 2004 Planning Commission hearing..., Planning staff indicated that 52 such remodels had occurred in the past year, with the frequency increasing toward the end of the year. In addition, Planning staff noted that nearly 40 percent of dwelling units in Long Beach have zero or one bedroom (Source: 2000 U.S. Census). Planning staff reiterated the negative effects that these conversions can have on a neighborhood, including overcrowding of units, parking problems, and the lack of usable open space.

    To address this issue, Planning staff proposed amendments to the Nonconformities section of the Zoning Ordinance (Chapter 21.27), whereby creating additional bedrooms in zero or one-bedroom multi-family units will require additional parking. Sites developed with only one dwelling unit would be exempt from this amendment.

    During the public hearing on the proposed amendments, the Planning Commission heard testimony from several persons asking that this item be continued for additional consideration of the impacts of the proposed amendments upon housing affordability. After considering this testimony, the Planning Commission determined that the issue requires further study, and voted to continue the item. However, given the prevalence of this trend, the large number of potential future remodels, and the negative effects these remodels have on the surrounding community, the Planning Commission recommended that the City Council adopt an interim Zoning Ordinance to temporarily prohibit the alteration of zero- or one-bedroom multi-family units with a nonconforming number of parking spaces, where such alteration will create additional bedrooms and not provide additional parking. Sites developed with only one dwelling unit would be exempt from this interim Zoning Ordinance...

    The effect of an affirmative vote on this agenda item would be to prohibit the processing of applications for alterations described in this report until an ordinance is prepared for City Council consideration. The Municipal Code requires that the interim Zoning Ordinance be returned to the City Council at its third meeting following such adoption.




    Request the City Attorney to prepare an interim Zoning Ordinance...for...placement on the City Council Agenda for hearing at its third meeting following such adoption, and direct the Planning Commission to commence a study regarding the adoption of a Zoning Ordinance related to the remodeling of the interior of existing multi-family residential units to create additional bedrooms.


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