The San Francisco Planning Commission has ruled that a buyer must rebuild an exact replica of a historic house they demolished illegally in the city. Ross Johnston must also put up a plaque explaining what happened — providing a lesson to all in the sensitivity required when buying and renovating special buildings. Continue reading
Santa Cruz County has recently implemented new, more relaxed development standards intended to make building an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) easier and more affordable. Towards this end it’s published three guidebook resources, Santa Cruz County ADU Basics, ADU Financing Guide, and ADU Design Guide. This article outlines the County’s ADU Design Guide. Continue reading
Do you need a building permit?
Spoiler: You probably do, unless you’re only doing cosmetic interior upgrades, like painting or updating your kitchen faucet. Any time you are adding square footage, making structural modifications, or significantly altering other building components, you’ll need to obtain a permit. Continue reading
When Should You Start Designing Your Project?
If you’re planning an all interior project, you can start any time! The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll have your house in the condition you want it to be, and the sooner you can start enjoying it. If you’re contemplating an addition or exterior alteration, it’s ideal to start planning your project early, but that’s not a hard-and-fast requirement. Starting early will give you and your architect sufficient time to develop the design and drawings on a more relaxed schedule, submit your project for Planning Department approval, and negotiate a contract with your contractor. Continue reading
Effective January 1, 2017, local laws regarding Secondary Dwelling Units were superseded. State law now mandates that local jurisdictions ease restrictions and barriers to the permitting and use of what are now referred to as Accessory Dwelling Units (“ADUs”). Continue reading
The Power to Plan
Local agencies derive their authority to shape their communities through planning and land use from the “police power.” The source of this power is both the federal and California constitutions. The police power is broad and elastic and entitles cities and counties to take actions to protect the public’s general health, safety, and welfare. However, in most cases local regulations may not conflict with overriding state law.
Local authority to regulate land use can expand to meet the changing conditions or priorities of society. Thus, actions that might not have been thought of as part of the general welfare a century ago (for example, curbing sprawl or promoting affordable housing) can fall within its purview today. Continue reading
Entitlement is approval from governmental agencies to use or develop a parcel of land. Approval may depend on many factors—including the building’s use and size, appearance, historic status, and environmental impact—overseen by separate agencies. The process is especially complex in cities, where land is scarce and land values are high, which makes development a risky proposition. Development means change, and there are many who resist change, often for valid reasons. Opinions are strong. In such challenging circumstances, the most effective tool for gaining approval is a good design. Continue reading