Zoning Ordinance Update

Panoramic Hill’s Zoning Ordinance (the ES-R Ordinance) was amended by the City Council in May, but remanded back to the Planning Commission to re-examine the bizarre definition of “bedroom”, which currently includes all dining rooms. The significance of this definition is that our off-street parking requirements are linked to the number of “bedrooms”, so 99% of the houses in the Berkeley part of the Hill would be non-conforming. This doesn’t pose a problem, until a resident requires an (Administrative) Use Permit, in which case you they either have to meet the parking requirements, or pay $8,000 in fees, and try and get a Variance. And, believe me, we require an (Administrative) Use Permit for almost any change, under this ordinance.

The Commission meeting took place on November 10th. Several residents were present, but no-one officially represented the Panoramic Hill Association. The Staff report opposed any changes, but, after a lively discussion, Commissioner Dacey successfully proposed a motion continuing the topic until the Commissioners had talked to their Council “sponsors”, many of whom had objected to the definition. Commissioner Dacey also suggested that limiting the number of Parking Permits per residence might achieve the desired effect, without having to place the draconian restrictions on construction, room renting, etc. contained in the current ordinance. This idea appeared to gain a measure of acceptance from the Commission, but did not become a motion. Dan Marks, Planning and Development Director, originally opposed it, but came around to stating that it was worth investigating.

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