Amending the Zoning Ordinance - Building and Site Design

Changes to the zoning ordinance as part of the Development Dialogue regarding building and site design


Staff Presentation


Ordinance O-2019-21 Staff Memo
Ordinance O-2019-21
Attachment A
Memo to Council Dated 02-14-2019
Planning Commission Packet
Development Dialogue Ad Hoc Committee Minutes

Comments & Feedback

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Regarding Item 3: amending zoning Section - Height Measurements

After presenting my concerns to the ad hoc council committee regarding increasing building height limits, the committee chair directed planning staff to consult with me to better understand the issue and formulate a solution. Staff's recommended solution is to eliminate the exception that was applied in the original language to mansard/gambrel roof lines, and instead take the measurement from the interior ceiling height. I think that modification addresses my concern over the "height creep" that might be an unintended consequence of raising the height measurement to mid-point of a pitched roof, and enabling enough headroom to make use of the attic space.

Please see the attachment to this note which was presented to the ad hoc committee, and I later modified with some additional explanatory material. Page 1 references the underlying problem statement as presented by staff to the planning commission.

Page 2 contains a photo of the Avenida Senior Apartments project near Westland, which provides a very good example of an architecture that provides a both a pitched roof and a flat roof design using the same floor space. This example contradicts the argument that pitched roofs are impractical when trying to maximize living space.

Page 3 depicts a sequence of figures that attempt to describe "height creep". The concern here is that allowing an (assumed) additional 5' max height for sloped roofs might enable an architect to add yet another storey to an already foreboding building plane. My opinion is that neighbors in single family zones or uses adjacent to this type of development would find the additional height objectionable on basis of shadowing, encroachment, and privacy.

Page 4 contains a photo of what this architecture might look like: that is, simply using a faux mansard roof line to disguise what would otherwise be a contemporary box architecture.

Doing some additional research I discovered that Portland OR, faced with the same citizens' concerns, also uses mid-point of pitched roof lines as height measurements, but instead of adding onto the existing height limit, they chose to reduce the single family height limit to 30' (vs. Lakewood's 35') and further specifically limit flat roofs to 25' height. They state clearly that the intent is to address shadowing and privacy concerns in single family zones. (Ref: I include this for consideration as simply another alternative to addressing this concern. It should also be pointed out that Portland's regulation applies specifically to single family zones, whereas Lakewood's regulation applies to all zones and their respective building height limits.

I am satisfied that the new language to be proposed by staff may well address my concern over "height creep". But it does not fully address concerns over high profile developments appearing next door to more diminutive land uses (e.g. 10th and Balsam). Perhaps that situation requires additional study.

Also, the Avenida example is evidence that pitched roofs are not necessarily an obstacle to design, and that it is more likely simply an architect's choice. So at least in this case, the proposed regulation seems to be unnecessary.

These comments are my personal opinion and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Eiber Neighborhood Assoc.

05/12/2019 1:34 pm
Paul Ditson
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