CITY COUNCIL & PLANNING COMMISSION JOINT WORKSHOP
RV PARKING, TEMPORARY CARPORT STRUCTURES,
AND FRONT YARD CYCLONE FENCING
JANUARY 12, 2006 7:00 P.M.
A joint City Council and Planning Commission workshop was held in the Livingston Middle School cafeteria on Thursday, January 12, 2006. Mayor Friesen called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m.
Council Members Present: Mayor Friesen, Mayor Pro-Tempore Vierra, and Council Members Espinoza, Ingram, and Soria.
Planning Commissioners Present: Chair Avila and Commissioners Alvear, Benafield, and Blevins.
Staff Present: Arredondo, Hallinan, Kenney, Lewis, Nateras, and Silva.
Others Present: Primitivo & Isabel Aguilar, Luis & Silvina De Ana, Denis & Sue Wells, Mike Torres, Augustin Barragan, Gurpal Samra, Ronald E. Kraus, Shahid & Umaran Bath, John & Palmira Louro, Frank Santos, Adao Silva, Warren Urnberg, Katherine Schell, Kaye Greeley, Martin Silva, Ramiro Garcia, Margarita Aguilar, Daphnie Ritchie, and others in the audience.
Mayor Friesen clarified that this workshop was being held to receive public input on what direction the City should take regarding RV parking, temporary carport structures, and front yard cyclone fencing; and that no action would be taken at this meeting.
Community Development Director Kenney explained that this meeting was a continuation from the August 2005 workshop. Handouts outlining the changes suggested at the August workshop were provided to all in attendance.
Ms. Kenney gave a brief overview of the current City Code regulations and presented a PowerPoint slide show providing pictures of areas in violation.
ITEM #1. RV AND BOAT PARKING LOCATIONS
Existing City Code, LMC 5-5-3 states:
Prohibited in front yards.
Must be a minimum of 5 feet from side property line, and 5 feet from main structure.
Prohibited from sleeping and cooking.
Permission by Police Chief if parked on private property.
Existing City Code (PD Zones), LMC 5-6-11 (B) 17 states:
Prohibited in front yards and driveways.
Prohibited in exterior side yards.
Screened when in interior side or rear yards.
Discussion followed regarding setback requirements and whether RV and boat parking should be allowed in front yards and driveways or limited to side yards, rear yards and storage facilities.
Commissioner Blevins feels that the parking of motorcycles and other types of trailers should also be addressed.
Shahid Bath, Tony Silva, and Mike Torres feel that it should be permitted to park recreational vehicles in the driveway.
Council Member Ingram, feels that RV and boat parking should be allowed on side yards and in driveways provided that there is adequate spacing and that they are not blocking the view.
Tony Silva and Frank Santos stated that when they bought their RV’s, they went to City Hall to find out if they needed a permit to park their RV’s in the front of their homes and the building inspector told them they did not.
Warren Urnberg stated that RV’s are being parked more than 72 hours in the same location and nobody is enforcing the 72-hour parking only rule.
Council Member Ingram said that when it comes to parking for longer than 72-hours, people have to obtain a permit from the Police Department.
Ramiro Garcia spoke against parking recreational vehicles in front of residences. He said he moved out of his house on Second Street because he got tired of his neighbor’s RV always blocking his view.
Mayor Pro-Tempore Vierra fears that if people utilize their driveways for parking recreational vehicles, they will have to use the street for parking their personal vehicles, and since some households have four or five vehicles, they will have to park in front of their neighbors’ homes.
The majority of the people in attendance supported keeping recreational vehicles off the grassy areas in the front yard.
Frank Santos, Adao Silva, and several others feel that residents should be allowed to park their vehicles in their side yards and rear yards.
Commissioner Benafield commented that she much rather see a vehicle behind the fence in the back yard than blocking the view in the front.
Mayor Pro-Tempore Vierra is concerned that some people are putting trailers in backyards and renting them out. They are also connecting to the main sewer line in the alley.
Concerned citizen (did not state name) said she agrees that there must be rules but she does not think it is right to punish those people that have their RV’s for recreational use.
Daphnie Ritchie, 1543 First Street, commented that there are two trailers in her neighborhood that currently have people living in them.
Mayor Friesen replied this is a topic that the City needs to address, and added that this is not only a Code violation, but also a human rights violation and a health issue.
Kaye Greeley thinks parking recreational vehicles in residential areas is an eye sore to the community, and supports limiting the storage of RV’s and boats strictly to storage facilities.
Denis Wells commented that RV storage facilities do not carry liability insurance; and Commissioner Benafield added that not everyone can afford the storage fee.
Gurpal Samra and Margarita Aguilar questioned if the storage of Jet Ski’s was the same as for RV’s and boats.
Mayor Friesen responded that they would have to follow the same regulations.
Denis Wells feels that the City Code should cover commercial areas as well as residential.
Discussion followed regarding setback requirements.
Commissioner Benafield, Mike Torres, Martin Silva, Frank Santos, Tony Silva, Shahid Bath, and several others feel that 2‑ or 3‑foot side and rear setbacks is appropriate.
Community Development Director Kenney stated that the current 5-foot setbacks are for fire safety and are based on Fire Department recommendation.
Kaye Greeley supports keeping the current 5-foot setback recommended by the Fire Department.
Mayor Friesen requested that staff discuss the setback issue with the fire department to get their feedback.
Gurpal Samra asked who would be grandfathered in.
Mayor Friesen responded those people that went to City Hall and were told it was okay.
Martin Silva suggested the City Council first take a walk around the City and see all the problems that need to be corrected before making any changes.
Mr. George feels that the City is worrying too much about RV parking and should worry about cleaning alleys and installing sidewalks where needed.
Recap of Discussion:
Support to keep RV’s/Boats/Trailers from parking in the grassy areas in the front yard.
Support for side yard parking.
Support for a change to possibly a 2-foot or 3-foot setback from property lines or houses if approved by the fire department.
Support for parking smaller boats/trailers and recreational watercraft in the driveway if sufficient space.
Workshop recessed at 8:50 p.m.
The workshop reconvened at 9:05 p.m.
ITEM #2. TEMPORARY CARPORT STRUCTURES
Existing City Code – LMC 5-3-16-1 (A) 3 states:
Prohibited in front yards.
Minimum 5 ft. side setback.
Minimum 6 ft. to main structure.
Maximum 15 ft. height if they are located within 5 and 15 ft. from rear property line.
Maximum of 30% rear yard lot coverage.
Community Development Director Kenney clarified that the Code currently does not prohibit temporary carports, so the people who have them are not breaking any laws. She added that when discussed at the August workshop, it was suggested to add these type of structures to meet setback requirements and allow the City to police them.
Ms. Kenney explained that a problem that is being encountered with temporary carports is understanding the definition of temporary. Most people think of temporary as the aluminum frame type carports with a tarp over the top, but there are also temporary metal carports. She added that a building permit is required to install the metal carports because they are engineered and are usually over 120 sq. ft., but no permit is required for the aluminum and tarp carports.
Ms. Kenney noted that according to the Building Official, the word, “Temporary” is defined as being up for 90 days or less. If the carport is up for more than 90 days, then it is considered a permanent structure.
Ms. Kenney showed photo slides of both types of temporary structures found throughout the City. Ms. Kenney commented that a problem being experienced with some of these structures is that they are violating the side yard setbacks and obstructing the view of the house.
Council Member Soria asked if the people that were in violation were notified of tonight’s meeting.
Staff responded that a notice was mailed to everyone in attendance at the August workshop. Additionally, it was published in the Livingston Chronicle and posted in the City Hall bulletin board and on Channel 2.
Mayor Friesen asked for public comment.
Planning Commission Chair Avila feels that things have gotten out of control because complaints are not being taken care of by City staff when reported to them.
Council Member Ingram commented that the City is in the process of hiring a schooled and trained code enforcement officer whose job will be to make sure that the Code is enforced.
Commissioner Benafield feels that it is okay for the City to have some control of what goes up in people’s front yards, but it is nobody’s business what goes on in people’s back yards, except for the property owner’s. She added that it is fine to require a building permit when a permanent structure is attached to a residence, but the problem comes up when the City wants to enforce setbacks in back yards for temporary structures.
Denis Wells suggested changing the word “temporary” to “portable.”
Discussion followed regarding whether or not the current Code should be changed to prohibit these temporary structures in front of residential units.
Mike Torres would like to see that all temporary carports and canopies in the front yard be eliminated.
Mr. Silva thinks that temporary structures should be allowed in driveways to protect their cars from the sun, as long as they are inside the property and do not extend to the sidewalk.
Frank Santos said he has a temporary carport in his driveway to protect his vehicles from the sun, but he would have no problem moving it to his back yard.
Commissioner Benafield questioned if property owners could go before the Planning Commission and ask for a variance if they have specific reasons.
City Attorney Hallinan responded that technically a variance is only for a land use issue, which would not be in this case, but they could make some type of exception in specific situations.
Shahid Bath thinks that if temporary carports are not in violation right now, they should not be made a violation by changing the Code.
A questioned was raised about who would be grandfathered in.
Community Development Director Kenney explained that if the City changes the Code to prohibit the plastic- or canvass-type carports, then once the structure itself is damaged and needs to be replaced, the property owner would not be allowed to replace it. As for the metal carports, once they come down, they cannot be put back up.
Mayor Friesen feels that they need to set some standards and make some changes to the current Code.
Planning Commission Chair Avila requested that City staff notify the people that have these carports so that they are aware that changes are forthcoming.
Recap of Discussion:
Language correction on definition of temporary structures.
Clarification of building permit requirements for temporary structures.
ITEM #3. FRONT YARD CYCLONE FENCING
Existing City Code – LMC 5-4-2 (E) States:
Cyclone fencing is discouraged (residential fences).
Cyclone fencing is discouraged (sound walls)
Staff commented that this issue came up at a previous meeting when Council was discussing residential fencing. At that point it was requested that cyclone fencing be prohibited from front yards of residential houses. It was then suggested that there be further discussion on this matter since the language, as it appears in the Code, discourages, but not prohibits, cyclone fencing.
Staff presented a slide show with photos of cyclone fencing found in some areas of town.
Council Member Espinoza feels that there are a lot of low-income people in this community who may not be able to afford a different type of fence. He added that he would agree to prohibit cyclone fencing in the front yard, but he thinks it would be allowed on the side or rear yard.
Tony Silva asked if an existing fence would have to come down if it has been there for many years.
Mayor Pro-Tempore Vierra responded that it would be allowed until it needs replacement or is taken down; once it comes down, it cannot be replaced.
Community Development Director Kenney indicated that she found a good property maintenance ordinance that is being used at another city which our City Attorney has already reviewed. Staff will make the necessary changes and then bring it before the City Council and Planning Commission for review. Ms. Kenney added that a property maintenance ordinance is needed as part of hiring a code enforcement officer, and then the City will have to come up with a process of how to go about citing the people in violation and what legal actions must be taken in order to enforce the ordinance. This process is long and complicated, and it will take staff some time to put these documents together.
Lengthy discussion followed.
Adao Silva thinks the City should be worrying about trimming hedges, cutting weeds, and mowing lawns so that yards look good, and not about chain link fences.
Gurpal Samra said he would much rather see cyclone fencing in the front yard than a wood fence.
Mayor Friesen commented that cyclone fencing is not allowed in new development because of existing CC&R’s.
Council Member Ingram said he has no problem with cyclone fencing.
Council Member Espinoza thinks the City should let the new developments put in the CC&R’s to prohibit cyclone fencing and the old town should be left alone.
Tony Silva said he would not object to put a stop on the cyclone fencing.
Frank Santos feels that fences that are up now should be left alone, but the City should not allow any new ones to go up.
Denis Wells said some people put them up because of dogs coming into their yard and people cutting across.
Shahid Bath said the City needs to differentiate old Livingston with new Livingston; and added that the City should do some improvements first before they can start attacking the residents.
Recap of discussion:
Types of fencing material for front yard.
Change language of being discouraged to being prohibited.
Future Development separating the old part of town from the new part of town.
Mayor Friesen explained that further discussion on these topics will continue to a Planning Commission meeting in the form of a public hearing. At that time, if the Planning Commission feels that the criteria discussed at this workshop has been met, the Planning Commission will adopt a resolution recommending approval to the City Council. Council will then have a first and second reading of the ordinance before changes are definite.
He asked that staff make sure the public is notified of future meetings on these topics in the same manner as done for tonight’s workshop.
The workshop adjourned at 10:25 p.m.
City Clerk of the City of Livingston
APPROVED: February 7, 2006
Mayor of the City of Livingston