Project developer Igor Prokopenko owns the parcel he wants to redevelop, which has been a rental property. He argued before PB planners on July 8 that plans for remodeling the Promontory dwelling and its accessory dwelling unit had been “softened” by redesigning it to mute its modernistic design.
“It was a little too austere for the area, so we added some gables and made it look a little more traditional than the older design,” said Prokopenko. “We pushed all the living space toward the interior of the lot.”
But PB planners remained unconvinced, moving at the end of testimony by neighbors opposed to the project to recommend its denial on grounds the project was out of character with the neighborhood. Planners also found that the second dwelling proposed on the parcel didn’t qualify as an accessory unit.
The project was yet another example of community push-back by some local planners and residents of an ongoing effort by the City to make it easier — and less expensive — to create companion units. Otherwise known as granny flats, such dwellings are increasingly coming under fire during a neighborhood planning review.
The City has justified relaxing restrictions on building ADUs, insisting it is a necessary and logical step to alleviate the affordable housing crunch which has caused a precipitous rise in rents.
Some residents and community planners, however, have claimed relaxing standards to encourage ADUs is a veiled attempt to increase unwanted density in single-family neighborhoods threatening their quality of life and community character.
Following the plan group meeting, neighbors John and Joyce Lilya, who oppose the project, said they “were pleased the planning group saw the neighborhood’s point of view and did not want multiple houses in an R-1 (single-unit) residential zone.”
The Lilyas pointed out that when the original Palmer tract housing was built in Crown Point, that the city had deemed this Promontory lot to be too small for two houses.
“Now these developers want to split the lot and build two unaffiliated houses, disguising the smaller one as an ADU unit in order to exploit the ADU rule book and our R-1 zoning,” the couple said.
Asked what they preferred on the site, the Lilyas said, “Neighbors want one single-family home built, not two houses. This developer could build a beautiful single-family home, update the current pool, and preserve the mature vegetation and trees in keeping with the history and character of this neighborhood.”
The couple said they fear the project as proposed will “more likely than not be sold to a real estate investor and will become forever rentals. The reason people are building so-called ADU units is to rent them out short-term because it is so lucrative. We are worried this project has the potential to become a black market Airbnb.”
The Lilyas added, “Even though it’s against the law, the City doesn’t enforce the laws. The neighbors are opposed to the unmanageable density that it will put on the neighborhood, and the new precedent it could set if such a development is approved.”