Secondary Housing Units – New Zoning in our Neighborhood

By LHA President Peter Turner

Late in February this year the City Council passed legislation allowing the construction of second housing units in the rear yards of a substantial portion of the homes in Lakeshore Homes Association. Our Association learned of this legislation four business days before the planned second reading (enactment) of the regulation. We made our Councilperson aware of the conflict between this legislation and our Covenants and Conditions (CC&Rs) which regulate the size and location of structures on lots in our neighborhood and the impact these second units would have in the look, feel and livability of our neighborhood.

Councilperson Guillen arranged a one week postponement of the legislation, but it passed two weeks later. He created an earlier amendment to the legislation which specifically included our neighborhood in the zone impacted by this legislation. Councilperson Guillen has told me this was an error on his part and he will do everything in his power to remedy the situation.

In the meantime, the City Attorney verbally advised the Council and City Administration that where a conflict exists between our CC&Rs and City zoning, our CC&Rs prevail. This is good news and a correct reading of the law, in our opinion.

The City Planning staff and Claudia Cappio, the Assistant City Administrator, in a meeting with me on February 23rd, agreed to place all LHA addresses into the master database which is used to process building permits and flag those addresses as ones for which a builder must first obtain a letter from our Association that the proposed structure is/is not barred by our internal CC&Rs. This is also good news. In essence, this means that a developer would be required to present their building plans to the Association for prior approval or denial. If this works as promised a developer should not be able to build a second unit which would conflict with our CC&RS. (If there is not a change of heart in the City’s Planning or an administrative mishap. In that case, we would be faced with litigation to defend our CC&Rs.) In all cases, the homeowner must get LHA approval to build such a structure, regardless of the City’s permit.

Our Councilperson promised to draft an amendment to the second housing unit ruling which would exempt homes bound by CC&Rs in their deeds (such as we have in our neighborhood) which conflict with the zoning ordinance. We will monitor the progress of that amendment and assist our representative to lobby members of the Council to promptly pass same. Should you notice substantial construction in our neighborhood, please let us know at the Association office at (510) 451-7160.