Proposed Content for a Bulk and Scale Ordinance

  

Community and Neighborhood Character, and Property Values

 

 

 

Balancing Individual and Community Property Rights

Examples of what we are Concerned About

 

Experiences and Solutions in Other Cities

 

Actions the Community Can Take Now

 

Comments from Residents - The Report from the Citizens Workshop in May, 2007

This Web site was established by a private Morro Bay citizens' group to communicate information about damage that we believe is being done to our city by inadequately controlled property development, and to encourage solutions to prevent further damage.   At present, we are focusing on "mansionization" - the building of over-sized houses that, we believe, damage the property values and quality of life of neighbors, and the community in general.

Houses whose bulk and scale are excessive for their lots and neighborhoods can:

Cut off neighbors' light, air and views, as they crowd and tower over neighboring homes.

Act as a kind of "visual pollution", presenting a jarring spectacle that "jumps out" at the viewer, and destroys the aesthetic balance/appearance of a neighborhood

Negatively affect our sense of place, clashing with the character and spirit of Morro Bay

 

No, we are not against all "larger" houses.  In a few areas of Morro Bay, where they blend into their surroundings, there are graceful larger homes that do not destroy the character of their neighborhoods, but blend with, and even enhance them. Built on larger lots, these homes do not crowd or tower over others nearby, or exhibit garish, pretentious architectural details that call attention to their size..

What we object to is the attempted takeover of neighborhoods of small-and medium-sized, affordable homes with over-sized homes that just don't fit.  If we are going to stop this invasion, we need to do it now.  More and more of those small- and medium-sized homes are disappearing, replaced by enormous structures that are anything but affordable and, we believe, just don't fit on their lots, and in their neighborhoods.

We encourage development that takes into account not just the property rights of an individual lot owner, but the property rights of the other people in our community.  In an ordinance intended to control house size in Kensington, an un-incorporated area of Contra Costa County, is the following text (underlining ours):

"The purpose of this chapter is to provide specific regulation to fairly and efficiently implement section 3-_ of the General Plan of Contra Costa County for the Kensington  area so that future development recognizes the rights of property owners to improve the value and enjoyment of their property while minimizing impacts upon surrounding neighbors, protects the value and enjoyment of neighbors' property, maintains the community's property values. and promotes the general welfare, public health, and safety."

We couldn't have said it better.  Morro Bay needs stronger ordinances to ensure that the property rights of the individual and the property rights of the community are balanced.  The proliferation of houses over-sized for their lots and neighborhoods makes it clear that our current zoning code does not provide the protection that our community needs.

Morro Bay is not the only community threatened by this problem, and many have already taken specific action to control it.  A brief investigation of efforts to control house size in California has identified 75 cities where a home size control mechanism called Floor Area Ratio (FAR) has been implemented, and more cities where this, or similar controls are being considered.  Even Los Angeles,  Beverly Hills and cities in Texas, where one hears that "everything is bigger" have had enough of the over-sized houses, and have taken, or are taking strong action to stop this problem.

Cayucos citizens are currently fighting to scale back a proposed project that is seriously out of scale and character with its surroundings.  See their Web site for details.

As dozens of other communities have, we need to take action to address the problem before it is too late