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Council to consider small-lot law

February 28, 2014|By Bradley Zint

The City Council on Tuesday will consider a proposed law designed to create more flexible standards for certain housing developments in Costa Mesa.

The Small-Lot Subdivision Ordinance would ease requirements on developers of relatively small land parcels, allowing them to build up to 15 dwellings.

It would eliminate a required minimum distance between buildings and reduce the amount of open space throughout a development to 30%, down from 40%.

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Open space in this context includes porches, covered patios, roof decks and balconies.

The ordinance would not change density restrictions, parking space requirements or the development's approval process. It would only be applicable to areas zoned for multifamily units or where live-work developments are allowed, such as the Westside.

Other California cities that have small-lot subdivision ordinances include Los Angeles, Modesto, Oakland, Napa and Santa Rosa, according to city staff. Costa Mesa, if the vote ultimately goes in that direction, would be the first city in Orange County to have one.

In September, the council and Planning Commission met to discuss the ordinance. During that session, officials said the changes are not being pushed by developers but rather by agencies like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

New housing in Costa Mesa is not destined to be like it was decades ago, with master-planned communities of 3,000-square-foot homes on large parcels, Planning Commissioner Colin McCarthy said at that meeting.

"The idea of going out and buying 50 acres in Costa Mesa just isn't a reality," he said at the time.

Recent projects in Eastside Costa Mesa where land was subdivided for new housing include four single-family homes approved for a 0.41-acre plot at 135 and 141 Monte Vista Ave. and 14 single-family homes at 2157 and 2159 Tustin Ave. Two 1940s-era houses originally sat on that 1.24-acre plot.

The Tustin Avenue project, dubbed East Haven by its Costa Mesa-based developer, Matt White Custom Homes, was brought to the council last year. An adjacent homeowners association filed an appeal, citing concerns about East Haven's 14-home density and potential to create more traffic.

The council ultimately upheld the Planning Commission's approval of the project. Matt White had requested some variance deviations but not additional density.

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