We last left the story in eNEWS, issue #15 with Nathan George’s proposal to increase the number of bedrooms on 2 separate abutting parcels from the current 23 to 35 by constructing
- a new, 3-story duplex at the rear of 2204 Dwight Way,
- a new 2-story duplex and a single story dwelling located within an accessory structure at the rear of the landmarked houses known as “The Bartlett Houses” at 2201-05 Blake Street, and
- a subterranean parking structure for 6 cars.
The proposal had been appealed to the City Council. After scores of neighbors appeared before the Council and spoke against the project and pointed out a number of problems with the meeting and how it was scheduled, the Council sent the matter back to the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) for re-hearing with the request that the ZAB specifically consider:
- The new plans submitted by the applicant.
- Parking requirements.
- Home ownership of the units.
- CC&Rs that would address the behavior of occupants.
- The usability of the open space and solar access.
- The driveway on the Dwight Way parcel.
ZAB held a public hearing on the proposal on April 23, 2015. While the proposal involved two separate sets of permits, one for the Dwight Way parcel and one for the Blake Street parcel, they were treated as one, but voted upon separately. The staff recommendation had changed from approval in the past to neutrality for this time-round regarding both parcels.
After, once again, hearing a parade of neighbors opposed, ZAB, on a motion by Commissioner Tregub, voted to deny the project.
Voting on the motion to deny the project was as follows:
|Voting Yes (to deny the project):||Commissioners Christiani, Dominguez, Hahn, O’Keefe, Pinkston, Pinto, Tregub and Williams|
|Voting No (not to deny the project):||Commissioner Donaldson|
ZABs action was appealable to the Council, and no appeal was filed. This means that the applicant cannot proceed with the same proposal until at least a year has passed.
But the March of the Mini-Dorms Isn’t Over
On March 24, 2015, the Council was scheduled to consider adopting new operating standards for Mini-Dorms and extending those standards to Group Living Accommodations (GLAs). Council’s discussion of the proposed amendments was postponed to their meeting of April 28, 2015 because students were on Spring Break. On April 28, 2015, the Council took no action, and instead referred the matter to staff to review and come back on September 29, 2015.
The review is being conducted by Jim Hynes of the City Manager’s Office, and involves City Attorney Zack Cowan and other staff. They have been meeting with a number of community groups, and have prepared an ordinance that includes the information below. Please keep in mind that these are changes that are being considered. They could be amended at any time before being presented to the Council and finally adopted later in the year.
In the amended ordinance, the definition of a Mini-Dorm would be changed as follows:
“Mini-Dorm” means any building in an R-1, R-1A, R-2, R-2A and or R-3 Zoning District that is occupied by six or more unrelated persons over the age of eighteen years, but is not a Group Living Accommodation as defined in Chapter 23F.04. Permitted and Legal non-conforming Sororities, Fraternities and Student Co-Ops shall not be considered Mini-Dorms, as long as they have a resident manager.
For your information, the definition of a GLA in Chapter 23F.04 is:
A building or portion of a building designed for or accommodating Residential Use by persons not living together as a Household, but excluding Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Tourist Hotels.
GLAs are allowed in the R-3, R-4, R-5, R-S, and R-SMU Zoning Districts.
Proposed Exemptions in the new ordinance:
- GLAs that have adopted operating standards approved by the City as “functionally equivalent” to the requirements in the ordinance and that are implemented consistently.
- GLAs, or housing groups affiliated with or receiving funds from UC or the ASUC, that have adopted a set of policies that are “functionally equivalent” to the requirements of this ordinance provided that UC, the ASUC, or another organization approved by the City provides quarterly reports sufficient for the City to know there is continued compliance with the ordinance.
Exemptions will be lost if the Mini-Dorm, GLA or housing group receives 2 written notices that qualify as nuisances, in any 12 month period, or if the required monitoring program has not occurred, or if there hasn’t been reporting of non-compliance.
- Owner-occupied buildings, hotels, or apartment houses of 16 or more units, or hotels of 12 or more guest rooms that are compliant with the requirement that a manager lives on the premises.
Owners and Property Managers
The owner of any GLA and the owner of more than one parcel that includes a Mini-Dorm shall hire a property manager. The property manager need not be a resident in the Mini-Dorm or GLA, but must be available at all hours to respond to complaints at all times. The duties of owners and property managers, if any, are:
- Provide notice to all residents within 300 feet of the existence of a Mini-Dorm or GLA. Include contact information where the Responsible Resident, owner and property manager, if any, can be reached at any time.
Residents of each Mini-Dorm or GLA shall designate a “Responsible Resident” who is responsible for:
- Refuse management and recycling
- Establishing a written maintenance schedule to keep the property free from solid waste, overgrown vegetation, graffiti and rodents.
- Responding to all complaints within 24 hours, keeping a log of complaints and responses, and retaining the log for no less than 24 months.
- Promptly notifying the owner and property manager, if any, of any notices regarding smoking and multiple responses to unruly parties and gatherings.
- Notifying at least one of the residents of each confronting or abutting property no less than 48 hours prior to any event involving more than 50 people. Provide a contact number at which the Responsible Resident can be reached during the entire course of the event.
Any Mini-Dorm or GLA that creates a substantial disturbance such as excessive noise or traffic, obstruction of public streets, public intoxication, service of alcohol to minors, fights, disturbances of the peace, litter, refusal of access to Fire Department personnel responding to an emergency call or situation, or other similar conditions, constitutes a public nuisance.
Events involving non-compliance with the following requirements at events where alcohol is served may constitute a public nuisance:
- No person shall be allowed on a roof, not including those that are legally constructed decks and balconies that meet applicable safety requirements.
- Events should end by 10:00 pm Sunday — Thursday, and 1:00 am on Fridays and Saturdays and days preceding national holidays.
- Alcoholic beverages should not be served or available to persons under 21 years, or served or available in bedrooms occupied by residents under 21, or served or available in common areas where it is accessible to persons under the age of 21 unless service is controlled.
- The presence of a minor under the influence of alcohol shall create a “rebuttable presumption” that the event is not in compliance with this ordinance.
- Gatherings should be kept to a manageable size, generally under 200 persons total and are not to be allowed to take place in any part of the public right of way.
- If a Mini-Dorm or GLA resident or guest is convicted or enters a plea of “No Contest” to various violations of the Penal Code, or any other felony assault or felony sexual assault, and the crime was committed at an event subject to this ordinance, OR the Center for Student Conduct at UCB notifies the City that it has determined that a resident or guest has violated the Student Code of Conduct by committing a sexual assault during an event subject to this ordinance, the Mini-Dorm or GLA may be deemed a nuisance. However, nuisance proceedings based on a report of a sexual assault by a survivor should not be conducted if the survivor does not initiate such proceedings with a written complaint to the City.
- This does not apply to regularly scheduled meetings and/or meals involving non-residents if such meetings involve only members of the group that owns or operates the Mini-Dorm or GLA and their parents/guardians even if the event includes the availability of alcohol as long as the service is limited to those over 21.
- Prevailing parties shall be entitled to collect attorneys’ fees.
- The City may require removal of bedrooms from the Mini-Dorm or GLA
- Remedies should be reasonably designed to address the nuisance that the City determines has occurred.
- Nothing in this ordinance is intended to create a monetary remedy.
- Any resident of the City may bring a private action for injunctive relief to prevent or remedy a public nuisance. No action may be brought until the City and the prospective defendants have been given 30 days written notice of the alleged nuisance and the City has failed to initiate proceedings within that period, or has failed to diligently prosecute.
At this time, BNC understands that the City Council will hold a workshop (i.e. set aside a special part of their meeting usually about an hour before the regular meeting starts at 7:00 PM) on September 29, 2015 to discuss amendments to the operating standards for Mini-Dorms and GLAs. We have been told that it is unlikely that the Council will take action on that date, but to be absolutely sure, check the posting of the agenda prior to that meeting.
Now is your time to consider the matter and get your comments into the City Council. Remember Mini-Dorms are allowed in residential zones starting with R-1 through R-3.