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ADUs, bus stops among topics at Tuesday's council meeting

The city council is officially back from a month-long recess, and topics on the agenda include ADUs and bus shelter designs.

The council will be hearing an appeal from the city’s community development department of a negative recommendation from the planning commission regarding accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, better known as “granny flats” or back houses.

In July, the commission voted 4-2 with one absence on the latest iteration of the proposed ADU ordinance. It needed at least a five-vote supermajority to pass, the city said.

The ordinance would set regulations for Claremont homeowners to build back houses on their property. The state has relaxed restrictions in recent years on ADUs as a way to cut into the housing crisis and increase building.

Claremont has been working on its own version of an ADU ordinance throughout 2018 and into 2019. The ordinance provides for a ministerial review, meaning a review from the city, if plans for an ADU fall within the city’s parameters, with an option for a discretionary review if the plans deviate from the city’s development standards.

At the July 2 planning commission meeting, commissioner Parker Emerson wanted to revise the draft ordinance, including removing the square footage maximum limits for ADUs and the owner-occupancy requirement.

Under the draft ordinance, maximum square footage would range from 600 square feet to 700 square feet on the city’s two largest lot sizes in the north of town, the city has said. Mr. Emerson proposed to do away with size maximums in favor of using a zone’s lot coverage maximum to regulate the size of an ADU.

The owner-occupancy requirement mandates that the owner of the property in which the ADU is to be built must live on the property itself, whether in the main house or the ADU. According to the city, Mr. Emerson said that this restriction would “constrain the development of ADUs and that adequate justification did not exist to maintain” the requirement.

Meanwhile, planning commissioner Douglas Lyon was concerned that elements of the draft ordinance, namely the maximum ADU sizes that would be permitted by the city without commission review, would lead to increased density in Claremont’s neighborhoods.

Thus, the commission voted 4-2-1, resulting in a negative recommendation from the body. The city has appealed, and the council will hear arguments on Tuesday.

The council will also scrutinize new designs for bus shelters to be placed throughout the city.

Current bus shelter designs, which feature Spanish and Craftsman-inspired features, are too bulky and not ADA-compliant, the city has said.

The new stops look decidedly modern, with the full shelter design featuring what the city describes as a “three-panel screen covered by an asymmetrical, hipped-roof canopy supported by a light tube-steel structure.” There are three versions—a full shelter design, a mid-size shelter design and an “umbrella” design.

The “umbrella” structures take up less space and would provide shade at smaller bus stops. A leaf-shaped “umbrella” on top would be adjustable, allowing shade at any point of the day, the city said.

If the council approves, construction could begin as early as late fall, the city said.