Our General Plan allows for controlled development of the Heights.
The General Plan requires that minimal alteration be done to the natural terrain, that houses blend in with the setting, that large distances be maintained between houses, that homes be densely vegetated, and that lots be at least one acre.
The success of these policies is felt when you walk or drive through most of the Heights and feel you are in the country, with homes nestled into the hills or not visible at all. This type of development increases the property values of surrounding homes and the whole community.
Projects that follow these rules are warmly welcomed.
Over-development does not conform to these requirements -
Sites are mass graded with artificial step pads - minimizing the natural terrain (see the Lynch property development west of lower Walnut St) or the terrain is made to fit a particular house plan by using large retaining walls.
Homes that stand out from the setting, often without much vegetation.
Builders are given large variances to build into the setback, reducing the distances between homes and reducing the privacy of neighbors.
This type of development ruins the look of the City and lowers property values of neighboring houses.
As the remaining hillside lots are developed and older homes are remodeled or torn down, this distinction will be quite important for the future character, value and appearance of the City. This or this
Another important issue regarding development is Property Rights.
We all want to protect our property rights. We all want property rights.
Your neighbor has the right to develop his property.
But you also have the right to expect that your neighbor will not put an office building or sub-shop on his lot.
Our right to build what we want is limited by the General Plan and its derived ordinances.
If your neighbor wanted to build a sub shop or office building on his property, he should have bought a lot somewhere that is allowed.
When we buy our houses or vacant lot we investigate (or should) the rules of the community in which it lies. If you buy a lot, without investigation, planning on building condominiums and then find out the City does not allow them, you have no right to complain, nor expect the City to change its rules because you did not know.
We can build what we want, so long as that wish can be fulfilled within the rules.
If a neighbor wants to build his house or garage 10 feet from your property line, he does not have that property right. The ordinance says it should be at least 25 feet. You can and should protest that at the Standards Modification hearing for that project if you feel your privacy will be affected or your property value reduced..
If a neighbor proposes to build a house over 16 feet tall that will block your view or you see poles up that indicate the outline of a proposed project that will block your view, you do not have to suffer and have your property value go down.
The View Preservation rule says that a home over 16 feet tall can only be built if it does not block a significant view of anyone elses property. The project will have to be approved by the Planning Commission at a Standards Modification hearing, where you have the right to say that you will be impacted or lose property value.
Our property values are protected by enforcement of the ordinances. If you have a home, with an acre lot, and a view, it is worth more to a potential buyer if they can count on that view not being blocked by an overly tall house, or someone building another house 5 feet from the property line.
When the ordinances are not enforced it creates uncertainty about if you can keep what you have and that lowers all our property values.
Summary: We have property rights. Your neighbor has a right to develop his property. But you do not have to lose your property rights in the process. That is what the ordinances are for, to let everyone know what is and is not allowed