South City residents fear ‘monster homes’ 

Residents of South City are tired of "monster homes" popping up next to them, blocking out the sun and any views they might have.

Numbers of sizable homes — which seek to maximize a house’s square footage to the lot size — are onthe rise across the town, especially near downtown areas, and an ordinance is in the works to enforce city policy restricting such growth, city planners said.

Upset residents have contacted council members about the not-so-neighborly homes looming over the smaller, older-style homes that are traditional to South City and the notification process of such projects.

The older, more conventional homes of South City "don’t cut it" for today’s demographic and, instead of building granny units in the back, they’re building up, said Ricardo Gomez, a resident in the Old Town neighborhood and former president of the Historic Old Town Homeowners and Renters Association.

"A lot of people don’t want to see a wall when they open their window," Gomez said.

Architecture and the public process have drawn concern from surrounding residents, who are worried about the size and the notification process for construction in their neighborhood, said Vice Mayor Pedro Gonzalez, also a resident of the Old Town Neighborhood.

"In the old times, you were allowed to build" a second unit in the back, Gonzalez said.

"Now, they go two to three floors high and they’re bigger than the original house," he said.

In 1999, the city made it policy that zoned single-family neighborhoods would have a 1-to-2 floor-area ratio including the garage to discourage the large homes, said senior planner Mike Lappen, meaning that a 5,000-square-foot lot could only have 2,500 square feet of structure including a garage.

But there’s been no zoning ordinance implemented to coincide with that policy because a small staff and focus on developing areas around town drew attention elsewhere, Lappen said.

"Now what we’re seeing is more people trying to add more to the lots. We’re seeing a lot more people pushing the envelope," Lappen said.

Contractors in the area said the limited availability of space on the Peninsula was pushing remodels on the Peninsula.

"What they’re doing is taking existing homes and reconforming it to where it is more appealing and more usable," said Elliott Paynter, the owner of Paynter’s Home Repair Service.

"There’s no lots left so people are just redoing what they have," he added.

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