On October 22nd, the Santa Monica city council will possibly finalize regulations that seek to further restrict a homeowners ability to remodel or build a new home. After initiating an interim zoning ordinance of a maximum lot coverage of 55%, the city is looking to further restrict the lot coverage to 45% for two-story homes, making it one of the most restrictive in Southern California.  Some City planning officials are concerned the city is moving way too quickly with these proposed regulations and are STRONGLY ENCOURAGING residents to voice their opinions at the October 22nd City council meeting at 6:30pm and by e-mailing your thoughts to councilmtgitems@smgov.net with the subject line- R1 Update. 

The lot coverage used to be 61%, so a drop to 45% would signify over a 35% reduction for two-story homes and when you account for an attached garage, it drops even further.  The City of Santa Monica calculates square footage including outside walls and the full size of an attached garage. The City of Los Angeles measures inside the walls and only counts 1/2 of the garage space.  Currently, the Pacific Palisades has 65%, Mar Vista has between 50-60% based on lot size, Venice has 55% and Brentwood is at 45%.

The city has spent the year considering how to incentivize renovating homes rather than replacing them in the city’s four single-family neighborhoods — Sunset Park, North of Montana, North of Wilshire and a small part of Pico.Unfortunately, in trying to inhibit builders from building “McMansions”, the chosen path “over-corrects” the issue and severely inhibits those with inherited floor-plan flaws (i.e.- lone master upstairs), especially those with lots less than 6,000 sq. ft.

Despite input from property owners stating they were comfortable with 55% lot coverage, the city planning commission recommended further reductions.  New one-story homes would cover 50% of the lot and new two-story homes would cover 45%. Homeowners remodeling their existing one-story home could cover up to 55% of their lot but those with a second story would be out of luck.

Upper-story maximum parcel coverage of 22.5% is also being proposed. It is currently 30%. The new restriction would make it extremely difficult on people who own homes on smaller lots to have adequate bedroom spaces on an upper level. 

The standards would also encourage accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, which homeowners build in their backyards and rent out.  The state of California is mandating this to help address the housing crisis. Interestingly, property owners who already have homes at the 61% maximum, would be able to build ADU’S, thus covering over 70% of the lot.  Thus creating an even bigger gap between those who already have bigger homes and those who do not.  IF YOU ARE A SANTA MONICA PROPERTY OWNER, MAKE SURE YOUR VOICE IS HEARD.

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