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Zoning Administrator Interpretations

17.22 Residential Zoning Districts


Table 2-3

7/26/05 How is FAR for lots in the RM-12 Zoning District calculated? (See Interpretation)

17.22.040, Table 2-3, Note #3

4/25/07; revised 4/03/08

How does one calculate the habitable area of an attic? When does an attic become a second floor?  Can the area in question be made up of attic and second floor space?  Can dormers be included as part of an attic?  And if so, how large can these be?  (See Interpretation)

17.22.050.A: Front yard setback requirements for RS and RM-12 districts


Are flag lots included in the calculation of average setback on a blockface? Are they subject to average setback requirements? (See Interpretation)
17.22.050.B.1:  Relating to the location of garages 3/23/07 For a new garage on an RM-12 lot, what are the location requirements if there are two units on the lot? (See Interpretation)
17.22.050.B: Location of garages 2/8/08 Is it possible to attach a detached garage (accessory structure) to the principal structure and convert the garage to living space?  If a garage is attached to a house by a breezeway, and a portion of the garage is located in the rear yard, can the breezeway be enclosed if it is located outside the rear yard?  (See Interpretation)
17.22.050.B.2: Garage and Carport Requirements for all Districts 9/26/07 What regulations apply to the placement of portable carport structures, such as lightweight canvas awnings on aluminum, used as a carport or storage area? (See Interpretation)
17.22.070.E: Massing Requirements for City of Gardens projects 11/15/07 & 9/20/12 No façade along the street may be longer than 60 feet. How is this provision applied along the corner yard of a corner lot? (See Interpretation 1 and Interpretation 2)
17.22.080.C: Incentives of the preservation of historic resources for City of Gardens Projects 11/26/07 The first question that requires interpretation is: Do these provisions apply to structures that are to be relocated onto a property?  The second question is whether through the design review process can the City waive other development standards (e.g. setbacks, height, and light and air separation) or is it limited to those outlined by this subsection of the Code?  (See Interpretation)
17.24 Commercial and Industrial Zoning          
17.28 Overlay Zoning Districts 17.28.090: ND Neighborhood Overlay Districts 6/12/07 How does the setback requirement (17.28.090.B.1) apply when the first floor or a portion thereof is set back more than the minimum side yard requirement? (See Interpretation)
17.29 Hillside Overlay District


Permit Regulations (Hillside Provisions)


  revised 5/07/07

How is square footage of an addition to a primary dwelling in the Hillside Overlay district determined? (See Interpretation)


Hillside Overlay District, Permit Requirements

3/3/09 Section 17.29.030 of the Hillside Overlay district requires the approval of a Hillside Development Permit for a proposed subdivision, new dwelling unit or structure, or an addition to an existing structure within the HD or HD-SR overlay zoning districts unless the proposed project is under the thresholds listed in 17.29.030.A.  It a project with multiple additions only subject to each of the individual thresholds or to an overall threshold size? (See Interpretation)
17.29.040.B: 11/10/05 Under what conditions would staff assign more than one lot per five acres of a Hillside Subdivision site when a portion of the site exceeds 50 percent in slope?  (See Interpretation)
17.29.050.D: Encroachment into the Arroyo Seco


 revised 5/07/07

Within this geographical area, how are encroachment regulations applied when lots or areas don't have a defined top edge?  (See Interpretation)
17.29.050.J and 17.29.060.A: 12/16/08 On lots that are 10,000 square feet or greater in size,  Section 17.29.060.A.3 requires that portions of the lot that have a slope that is 50 percent or greater be removed from the allowable Floor Area Ratio calculation.  Section 17.29.060.A.4 requires that when calculating the average slope for further reductions, this calculation is based on the average slope of the lot.  Are portions of the lot that are removed from the FAR calculation because they are 50 percent or greater added back into the calculation to determine the average slope? (See Interpretation)


Hillside Overlay District and Exterior Lighting

7/31/07 Does the requirement that exterior lighting shall be directed downward and away from adjoining properties and public rights-of-way prohibit the use of decorative lighting that is directed upward to illuminate architectural features or landscaping?  (See Interpretation)
17.30 Central District Specific Plan

17.30.040 and Table 3-2:

CD General Development Standards

4/6/06 Does the 15' minimum ground floor requirement for commercial and mixed use projects in the CD apply to the ground floor of the entire building or only non-residential portions?  (See Interpretation)
17.40 General Property Development and Use Standards


Height Measurements

6/15/07 How is the maximum allowable height measurement applied to building additions and multiple buildings on a single site?  (See Interpretation)


Height Requirements and Exceptions; Height Limit Exceptions; Roof Mounted Exceptions

7/12/07 For appurtenances covering not more than 25 percent of the roof area of commercial and industrial structures, how is the 25 percent limitation calculated?  (See Interpretation)
  17.40.060.D.2.a: Height Limit Exceptions - Commercial and Industrial Structures 5/30/07 Under 17.40.060.D.2a appurtenances may exceed the height limit by up to 15 feet as long as the appurtenance does not cover more than 25 percent of the roof area.  If a building proposes appurtenances on the roof that do not exceed the height limit, can these appurtenances cover more than 25% of the roof?  (See Interpretation)


Outdoor Lighting

7/27/07 Does the requirement that exterior lighting shall be directed downward and away from adjoining properties and public rights-of-way prohibit the use of decorative lighting that is directed upward to illuminate architectural features or landscaping?  (See Interpretation)



7/12/07 For appurtenances on the roof of a commercial or industrial structure: If there is a required screening wall, is the entire area behind the screening wall included in calculating the 25 percent limitation for roof coverage?  (See Interpretation)


Parapets in an Encroachment Plane

3/25/10 Is a parapet included in the list of architectural features permitted to project into the Encroachment Plane?  (See Interpretation)



4/2/08 When is alternative paving materials considered paving and when is it considered landscaping in residential zoning districts?  (See Interpretation)
  17.40.180 and 14.05.250: 4/17/07 Is a retaining wall subject to the wall and fence requirements of section 17.40.180 of the Zoning Code?  (See Interpretation)


Walls and fences and 14.05.250:

CBC Section 103

3/4/09 If an applicant wishes to construct a retaining wall, and is required by the California Building Code to have a guard railing, is this railing subject to the fence and wall requirements of the Zoning Code?  Additionally, a wall or fence is measured from existing grade.  Is the height of the guard railing measured from the existing grade or the finished grade?  What happens if the retaining wall extends by two feet above the retaining wall?  Would the applicant need to get a minor variance to exceed the height?  (See Interpretation)


50 percent open requirement for walls and fences

5/17/07 How is the 50 percent open requirement for fences and walls determined?  (See Interpretation)


Walls and Fences

11/26/07 What are the fence requirements for the pole portion of a flag lot? What standards would be used for constructing walls and fences?  (See Interpretation)
17.43 Density Bonus, Waivers and Incentives

17.43.040 and 17.43.050:

Density Bonus Allowance;



Concessions and Other Incentives

5/21/07 How is the number of affordable housing units calculated when a project has existing units on site? (See Interpretation)
17.46 Parking and Loading


Small Residential Addition

11/14/08 Subsection 17.46.020.J states that small additions, with a maximum aggregate total of 150 square feet, may be made to existing residences without requiring the two-car covered parking requirement of Section 17.46.040 (Number of Off-Street Parking and Loading Spaces Required).  However, any addition to an existing residence, including the construction of an accessory structure (e.g. pool house or workshop) of over 150 square feet shall require the construction of a two-car covered parking structure.  (See Interpretation)


Small Residential Additions

3/25/10 The Zoning Code allows small additions (with a maximum aggregate total of 150 square feet) to be made to existing residences without requiring the two-car covered parking requirement. However, any addition to an existing residence, including the construction of an accessory structure of over 150 square feet shall require the construction of a two-car covered parking structure. How does this section apply to attic conversions that are over 150 square feet?  (See Interpretation)
17.46.040.G: Rounding Parking Calculations 6/4/07 When there are multiple uses proposed as part of a new project, how is the parking calculated? How is parking calculated when new construction is located in a Transit-Oriented-Development (TOD) area or the Central District sub area 1(CD-1 District)?  When does rounding up or down for the number of required parking spaces occur?  (See Interpretation)


Tandem Parking

4/18/07 Is “double stacked parking” (i.e. a parking space above another space) a method permitted as an alternative form of meeting the off-street parking requirement for residential and non-residential uses?   (See Interpretation)


Compact Parking Spaces Prohibited

4/20/07 If compact parking spaces are prohibited, can someone apply for a variance to the parking space size requirement?  (See Interpretation)


Parking Spaces for the Handicapped

11/3/05 Must the backout aisle for a handicap parking space be 14' wide?  (See Interpretation)


Aisle Dimensions and Table 4-9 - Minimum Garage Door Width

2/19/09 When a residence is expanded over 150 square feet, and the lot has a two-car garage, is the garage door required to meet the minimum garage door size?  (See Interpretation)
17.46.150: Driveway Design, Widths, and Clearances Table 4-10 and Table 4-11. 3/12/09 The Zoning Code sets a maximum for a driveway width for residential projects.  If a property owner plans to replace a driveway and have a walkway next to the driveway, could that potentially create a driveway that is larger then allowed by the Zoning Code?  If so, is there a minimum separation between the walkway and the driveway?  (See Interpretation)


25 percent parking reduction in CD-1

6/4/07 For a new multiple-use project, how is parking calculated? How is parking for new construction in a TOD area or CD-1 District calculated? When does rounding up or down for parking spaces occur?  (See Interpretation)


Number of Loading spaces required

11/26/07 Subsection 17.46.260.C discusses rounding calculations with regards to the required number of loading spaces.  How do you calculate the number of loading spaces required when rounding calculations is necessary?  (See Interpretation)
17.48 Signs


Definition of a Sign

11/14/08 Is a mural a sign or is it art?  (See Interpretation)
17.50 Standards for Specific Land Uses
Private Residential Recreational Facilities
8/15/12 Are batting cages considered a private residential recreational facility? Are the posts and netting associated with batting cages considered a fence? (see Interpretation)
17.50.250: Residential Uses - Accessory Uses and Structures 7/26/05 Can an accessory structure have a rooftop deck?  (See Interpretation)
7/26/05 Are structures such as permanent outdoor barbeque grills, freestanding outdoor fireplaces, brick ovens, fire pits, etc. considered accessory structures?  (See Interpretation
7/26/05 When is a building permit not required for a new accessory structure located within a residential single-family RS-zoned property?  The Zoning Code requires a maximum accessory size of 600 square feet or six percent of the lot size, whichever is greater.  The maximum top plate height for an accessory structure is nine feet and the maximum overall accessory structure height is 15 feet.  (See Interpretation)
17.50.310.F: Requirements for co-located Wireless Telecommunications Antenna 11/18/09 Are co-located facilities required to be screened and concealed from public view when the co-location occurs on an existing support structure (monopole)? (See Interpretation)
17.50.340.D.: Parking requirements in the TOD 6/4/07 For a new multiple-use project, how is parking calculated? How is parking for new construction in a TOD area or CD-1 District calculated? When does rounding up or down for parking spaces occur?  (See Interpretation)
Chapter 17.61 Permit Approval or Disapproval 17.61.040.C.2: Exempt Temporary Uses 3/7/08 Subsection 17.71.040.C.2 exempts temporary on-site construction yards from the temporary conditional use permit (TCUP) process.  Does this allow such a temporary use to store materials in a front yard, have a front yard six-foot fence to secure the materials and have a portable toilet in the front yard?  (See Interpretation)
17.61.070: Adjustment Permits 11/28/07 The Adjustment Permit established a process that allows for the adjustment or modification of the development standards with the exception of an increase in density/Floor Area Ratio (FAR).  An adjustment permit also allows for the density to be averaged on lots divided by two or more Zoning Districts.  Does this also mean that the FAR can be averaged?  (See Interpretation)
Chapter 17.64 Permit Implementation, Time Limits and Extensions 17.64.040.A: Time Limits and Extensions and 17.64.080.A: Discontinuance





When a project involves the construction of multiple structures and is phased over an extended period, when is the entitlement deemed “exercised” and when does it expire? When does the remainder of the entitlement expire if only a single phase is completed?  (See Interpretation)
17.71  Nonconforming Uses, Structures, and Lots 17.71.070.A: Nonconforming Uses - Repair and Maintenance - Ordinary Repair and Maintenance 2/23/09 What constitutes repair and maintenance on a fence or wall?  If a homeowner demolishes a portion of the fence, can it be replaced without meeting the current code requirements?  What is ordinary repair?  (See Interpretation)
17.71.110: Nonconforming Lots 11/28/07 Subsection 17.71.110.A states, “A nonconforming lot of record that does not comply with the current access, area, or dimensional requirements of this Zoning Code for the zoning district in which it is located, shall be considered to be a legal building site if it meets one of the criteria specified by this Section.”  Is a lot that does not have any street access a grandfathered lot under this subsection?  What does “access” mean?  (See Interpretation)
17.80 Article 8 Glossary of Specialized Terms and Land Use Types


Definition of Commercial Off-Street Parking

11/11/08 Is a parking lot or structure that is used for commercial purposes during the off-hours of a business considered a "commercial off-street parking use" and subject to a conditional use permit requirement?  (See Interpretation)


Definition of Dwelling Unit

11/26/07 The Zoning Code defines a dwelling unit as having all rooms internally accessible from the interior of the dwelling unit.  Is a room considered accessible if a person must go through a garage or carport to access the room?  What if the room is accessible only through an enclosed hall?  (See Interpretation)


Definition of Dwelling Units and Basements

3/25/10 Is a basement required to be internally accessible to the dwelling unit it serves?  (See Interpretation)


Definition of Floor Area Ratio (FAR) Calculation Applicability to a site


revised 3/27/07

When a series of lots is all under a single ownership, does the FAR calculation include the entire site or is it calculated separately for each lot?  (See Interpretation)


Definition of Life/Care Facilities

11/25/08 The definition of Life/Care Facilities states that the use shall contain independent living units, residential care facilities, and continuing care, Alzheimer and related facilities.  Is the intent of this definition to require facilities for just patients suffering from Alzheimer disease or was the intent to require skilled nursing facilities?  (See Interpretation)



11/18/09 What use would the business Kid's Fun Playhouse or my Gym be classified?  (See Interpretation)


Definition: Dry Cleaning Pick-up Stores

3/25/10 What use classification is a dry-cleaners that is 5,000 square feet or less?  (See Interpretation)


Definition: Dog or Animal Training


Is “dog or animal training” an allowable use under the Zoning Code?  Which use classification would “animal training” fall into?  If so, in what zoning districts would this use be allowed?  (See Interpretation)


Definition: Restaurant with Walk-up Window


Is a restaurant with outdoor cooking facilities and which dispenses food outdoors considered to be the use “Restaurant with Walk-up Window?” (See Interpretation)

Appendix A PD-1 Provisions 1/5/09 A Conditional Use Permit is required for the construction of a new building or construction of an addition to an existing building.   Does an internal addition that adds square footage but does not expand the footprint of the building (including any upper floor additions) require a Conditional Use Permit?  (See Interpretation)
PD-9 Provisions


revised 11/26/07

PD-9 was adopted in 1983.  The provisions of this PD reference the Hillside Development Overlay District Standards.  Since the Hillside Development Overlay District standards have changed many times since the adoption of PD-9, which Hillside Development Regulations are applicable?   (See Interpretation)
PD-10 Provisions 11/8/09 The PD-10 provisions indicate that the uses permitted on the site are limited to office and retail uses. The provisions, however, do not list the specific types of uses which would be considered retail. Further, the Zoning Code in effect at the time of the adoption of this PD did not contain a definition of retail uses. Therefore, the question is whether a restaurant would be allowed on this site under the provisions of the Zoning Code then in effect. (See Interpretation)
PD-15 Provisions


revised 4/26/07

PD-15 provisions lists allowed uses but the list is not intended to be inclusive of all uses that may be reasonably related to hotel uses.  What other uses would be allowed on the site?  (See Interpretation)
PD-23 Provisions


revised 4/26/07

The ordinance that adopted PD-23 says plans for development must comply with plans adopted by the City Council, but describes yard and height limitations in a way that would result in modifications to the plans.  Does the description in the ordinance override the plan that was adopted by the Council?  (See Interpretation)

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