Santa Paula Times

Planning Commission: Homeowners need more info on zoning, annexation

April 08, 2016
Santa Paula News

An old issue, people not being aware of zone changes to their property was brought up to the Planning Commission at the March 22 meeting.

During public comment Realtor Anita Pulido told the commission she was representing “homeowners I have served,” that have encountered issues with zoning changes. 

Such zoning changes, such as in the highway commercial district, make homes “Not eligible for rebuild” including those properties owned by generations of families.

Pulido said another person found their property had been annexed into the city.

Of the examples she gave the commission, “None of these families were aware of these changes…”

Although not implying any city action was illegal, Pulido said “I would like to see a better notification system so the owners are fully aware,” to comment or take action.

The change in zoning affects home values and financing options: “If they can’t be grandfathered in it almost becomes a taking of property…they would have to sell to an all cash buyer and often not get the full value of the property.”

Pulido said she was representing “Those that probably would not come up and speak,” to commissioners about the issue.

When a similar issue occurred years ago when a safety zone was designated east of Santa Paula Airport “I came and fought for a rebuild letter,” to allow lenders to know that if the house had to be replaced it could be, albeit in the same footprint of the existing structure.

Pulido said such a letter — used to convince lenders to finance transactions — cost clients $160. 

Pulido requested that the city consider automatic rebuild for such properties and notification methods “So parties affected by this have a chance to ask questions or I do on their behalf…”

Planning Director Janna Minsk acknowledged that properties have been rezoned but adequate notice has been published in the newspaper as well as to residents of such properties. 

“You said all proper due diligence has been followed?” said Commissioner Fred Robinson.

It has said Minsk.

“Did they understand?” said Robinson.

Pulido said the issue “if feasible” warrants further discussion by the commission to help clarify the issue.

Said Commissioner John Demers, “If the city finds it necessary to change zoning,” a move that could present a “significant reduction” in the value of the property due to an “administrative action… strikes me as something I don’t want to do.”

Commission Chair Ike Ikerd noted that since the issue was brought to the commission, he would like staff to review it for possible appropriate actions.

Minsk said the outreach is currently extensive including sending letters with hearing dates to those living within a 300-foot radius of the proposed change as well as a letter sent to the property occupant “in addition to the property owner.”

Properties “have been rezoned over the years” including the property east of Santa Paula Airport and East Area 1 and 2, which Minsk said was annexed into the city.

The annexation also included the residential area at Hallock Road and west to the Santa Paula Creek, formerly an unincorporated area. 

“I’m satisfied with what the process was,” said Commissioner Mike Sommer who noted Pulido’s concerns seem to be addressed except for her suggestion that such rezoning and other land changes be included in utility billing.