Planners advise Gold Coast zone text amendment

Issue now goes to City Council

The Planning Commission this week voted unanimously to recommend a zoning text amendment to allow architectural features to project into the interior side yards of Gold Coast homes.

The proposed zone text amendment would allow features such as eaves and cornices to project up to 2 feet into the side yards—provided there’s a 2-foot separation between the projection line and the property line. This would apply to side yards beginning 3 feet above the first story.

One resident opposed the proposed change during the public comment period. One resident supported the change. This was a virtual meeting and both individuals were able to speak to the commission live during the meeting.

There have been issues with members of the public being able to participate in recent virtual meetings.

Seal Beach city staff recommended that the Planning Commission approve the code change, which would effect beach side Ocean Avenue properties between First and Eighth streets.

The next step for the proposed Zone Text change is for the City Council to consider it at a future date. All planners could do was make a recommendation.

Planning Chair/District One Commissioner Steve Miller asked  what the code was in Old Town.

According to Community Development Director Alexa Smittle, such features are allowed.

Miller asked if the features were allowed across the street from the Gold Coast.

Smittle confirmed they were.

Acting City Clerk Dana Engstrom said the city received six emails about the proposed zone text amendment. She did not say if they favored or opposed the amendment..

During public comment, Mike Bixler said he favored the existing code. He said he opposed a zone text amendment that effectively reduced set backs. He asked why a professional staff (apparently a reference to city staff) would recommend reducing fire safety.

Bixler said the proposed change would reduce the enjoyment of one’s home and reduce property values.

The staff report on the proposal said city staff consulted with members of the Gold Coast CC&R Committee and received no concerns.

According to Bixler, the Gold Coast is made up of about 46 individual homes. He said there are no apartments or condominiums on the Gold Coast, therefore, according to Bixler, there is no legitimate Gold Coast CC&R Committee.

He argued that the proposed amendment would have a major negative impact on the Gold Coast.

However, the zone text change did have at least one supporter.

Pete (his surname was not provided during the meeting) said he understood some of the points that Mr. Bixler made.

“It’s pretty obvious that the code is not clear,” Pete said.

He did not agree that there was a fire hazard, arguing that there were 36 homes with extensions of more than 2 feet.

“We’re building on a 30-foot lot, which is very narrow,” Pete said.

He questioned the fairness of having built a home and having an issue with the eaves for his roof. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Pete said.

“I think the code needs to be cleared up,” he said.


“The proposed code amendment before the Commission this evening relates to projections into side yard setbacks for properties located in the RLD-9 District along the ocean side of Ocean Avenue between 1st Street and 8th Street, also known as the ‘Gold Coast,’” according to the staff report prepared by Assistant Planner Marco Cuevas Jr., and  Community Development Director Alexa Smittle.

“Under the previous zoning regulations applicable to the Gold Coast (prior Chapter 28), the Zoning Code allowed architectural features to project into required side yards,” according to the Smittle and Cuevas report.

“Specifically, the Zoning Code allowed for architectural projections of eaves, cornices, etc., up to two feet into the required side yards, provided that required side yards were not reduced to less than two feet in width,” according to the Smittle and Cuevas report.

The current code requires ocean-facing properties to have a side yard set back of at least 3 feet in the interior side yard, according to the staff report.

“Typically, properties in the RLD-9 zone require a minimum side setback of five feet which allows up to two-foot encroachments for architectural features but requires the projections to maintain at least a three-foot setback. However, within the Gold Coast, as a result of the Zoning Code text, the minimum setback may be three feet which conflicts with the provision that allows projections,” according to the staff report.

“A recent observational survey of the Gold Coast area finds many examples of residences with projections that encroach into required side yard setback areas,” according to the report.

“Specifically, 36 of the 45 houses on the Gold Coast have protrusion into the side setback resulting a distance smaller than 3 feet between the property line and the edge of the protrusion, based on staff observations (though exact measurements were not taken),” according to the report.

“The majority of these projections are eaves or cornices, with some homes also having chimneys within the setback,” according to the report.

“From this analysis, it appears that the current development standards result in inconsistent treatment of encroachments inside yards in the Gold Coast area, in contrast to other similar residential areas and in contrast to previous Zoning Code provisions for the Gold Coast,” according to the report.

“If the current Code is strictly interpreted, the eaves would need to maintain a 3-foot side setback, and the actual building setback would need to be greater than 3 feet in order to accommodate eaves and similar architectural features,” according to the report.

“However, the Zoning Code also states that the measurements involving a structure are made to the closest wall and not edge of eaves, which creates a conflict within the Zoning Code,” according to the report.

“Staff also considered projections regarding the element of safety,” according to the Smittle and Cuevas report.

“According to building code standards, fire rated projections of up to two feet are allowed provided there is a minimum of two feet separation between the property line and the projection,” according to the Smittle and Cuevas report.

“For properties with a three-foot side setback, a projection of one foot would be allowed,” according to the Smittle and Cuevas report.