SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL
Pleasure Point’s long-anticipated building restrictions on verge of approval
Sentinel Staff Report
Article Launched: 01/30/2010 12:00:00 AM PST
By Kurtis Alexander
PLEASURE POINT — A push to keep the endangered surf shack and beach bungalow from being swallowed up by big, modern homes is expected to be inked on the books next week.
County supervisors are looking to enact new building rules to restrict development in the eclectic Pleasure Point neighborhood — the latest effort to reverse course on monster houses rising up along the county’s coastline.
“Unfortunately, many of the people that get drawn here want to change the character and build these large houses that are out of scale with the community,” said Will Mayall, whose mid-size home on Palisades Avenue is now dwarfed by others in the community.
Mayall and his wife, like dozens who have attended recent neighborhood meetings to help draft new building rules, support the county’s plans for Pleasure Point.
“This is a special area. It’s got a funky, weird mix of houses in it. We should protect that,” he said.
The county plans designate about 1,150 homes in the Pleasure Point area as a special zoning district where a handful of new regulations govern new homes and additions. The regulations aim to keep building in line with the community’s character, while still keeping it unique, the irony of which is not lost on county planners.
“Some of the things that are in these regulations are loosening current regulations and some are tightening them,” said principal planner Glenda Hill.
The result, she said, is reducing the bulk of new homes while giving owners maximum flexibility with their design.
For example, one regulation would require second stories to be set back slightly from the first floor, reducing a home’s wall-like appearance; in turn, owners would be allowed to build larger first floors.
The new zoning district would follow a number of other regulatory efforts to curb the size of new homes. Three years ago, the county tightened procedures for counting square footage in unincorporated communities, making it more difficult to justify large houses. Cities, like Santa Cruz, have fashioned specific design standards for neighborhoods like West Cliff.
Not everybody, though, supports the crackdown.
Mike Forster, who lives on Moran Way, had hoped to replace his 1,200 square-foot-home with a 2,500 square-foot-home, plus a basement. But their vision doesn’t meet the proposed zoning district rules.
“I don’t like the idea of a monster home being built next to me. But what the county is going to do is make it so difficult for people to build that it won’t be economically possible,” Forster said.
Mike and Elaine Forster’s plans to enlarge their one-story home on Moran Way have been halted by Supervisor John Leopold who feels the Forsters are trying to get their plans approved before the county adopts stricter codes.
Forster’s frustration peaked when his new home plan, which won county approval in December, was recently appealed by county Supervisor John Leopold. Leopold, who represents the Pleasure Point area, says he doesn’t want new large homes to slip in before the zoning district is in place, leaving Forster at the mercy of a pending Board of Supervisors hearing.
“The last three-and-a-half years I spent designing this house are for nought,” Forster said. “This is not a monster home.”
The proposed zoning district would encompass 320 acres bounded by 41st Avenue on the east, Portola Drive on the north, Corcoran Lagoon on the west and the ocean to the south.
The plan that will go before county supervisors next week has been amended since the Planning Commission approved it in December and now allows homeowners who lose their home to fire or natural disaster to rebuild to their original specs, regardless of the extent of their damage.
The zoning district must be approved by the California Coastal Commission. County supervisors are scheduled to decide whether to send it to the Coastal Commission at a 9 a.m. meeting Tuesday on 701 Ocean St., Santa Cruz.
Proposed building standards
New rules for new and remodeled homes are being considered for the Pleasure Point neighborhood, as part of an effort to keep building in scale with the community. Highlights include:
“¢Requiring second-story setbacks of 10 feet, from current 5-foot minimum
“¢Expanding allowed lot coverage for one-story homes on small lots, to discourage second floors
“¢Limiting garages to two-car widths or 50 percent of the home’s total facade
“¢Not counting porches toward total home size, to encourage their construction
For complete list, visit http://www.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/, click on ‘Agenda and Minutes’ and proceed to next week’s meeting.