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City unveils plans for Cardiff’s future

After months of citizen and staff meetings to craft a zoning ordinance for downtown Cardiff-by-the-Sea, City Council sent the plan back to staffers for another public workshop. The so-called Cardiff Specific Plan draft was generally acceptable to most members of the council and public speakers.

The plan presented to council Sept. 17 called for the six-square-block district of residential and commercial properties north of Orinda Drive, south of Mozart Avenue, east of San Elijo Avenue and west of the alley between Newcastle and Manchester avenues to be separated into four zoning areas.
Councilwoman Teresa Barth, who worked on the plan in its earliest carnation before being elected to public office, recused herself from deliberations because she lives within the plan area.
Barth served as co-chairman of the Cardiff Consensus Conference, a group of citizens who convened over two weekends in 2001 to hammer out the details of a zoning plan.
“The community liked the eclectic nature and the openness of the Pacific Ocean,” Barth recalled of those early meetings. “They wanted to make sure there were businesses that supported the community, such as the post office, grocery store and library.”
The first draft of the plan crafted by the San Diego-based M.W. Steel Group was rejected outright by the council in March 2007. The paid consultant veered too far from the goals of the conference held years earlier and subsequent public workshops. As a result, the council called for the creation of a citizen advisory committee headed by Peder Norby, Coast Highway 101 Corridor coordinator.
The height limit on buildings and the proximity of residences and businesses to each other and the street was a major focus for the citizen review panel. The latest plan calls for building setbacks of 20 feet from the street and limits building heights to two stories.
The height limit is 18 feet for single-story and 30 feet for two-story commercial buildings. Residences were given a slight increased height limit with 22 feet for single-story and 26 feet for two-story buildings. Lot coverage provisions of 30 percent remained the same for commercial, while residential and office was set at 40 percent.
“I was concerned about the height of the new homes that are being built all around the area,” Cardiff-by-the-Sea resident Sara Jacobs said. “It’s also possible that a huge office building like the one that replaced Miracles (Café) could be plunked right in the way of our views.”
The draft calls for improvements to private alleys, publicly maintained sidewalks and curbs. Councilman James Bond said he recalled trying to work with the owners of the surrounding buildings to split the cost of repairing alleys that were damaged by water, but to no avail. He asked what would be different in this plan.
Andrew Audet, president of the Cardiff Protection Association, called on the council to support the plan. The citizens group has been active in advocating for a clear zoning in the area although it has not always agreed with the provisions in the plan. “We recommend that this City Council approve it now without further review,” he said.
The public workshop will be scheduled for later this year.