City Room Rental Ordinance Draws Concerns

There are a number of concerns and potential problems with the proposed room rental permit ordinance
Lost in the ordinance maze1.  It gives the City a right it does not currently have: to grant permits to rent rooms.
Now,  the City has no power to give property owners permission to rent to more than four unrelated adults, this will let it do so in the future.

2.  The proposed ordinance currently provides for rentals of up to only four  rooms per house. However the  City could, whenever it wants, having given  itself the right to “permit” rentals of rooms, give itself the power to rent to  more than four unrelated adults, simply by amending this section by a vote.

fraternaty house3.   Would the City do that? Yes.  When have our elected officials not bent over backwards to help UCR? Letting landowners pack in students as densely as possible helps UCR.  This will speed up the process already planned for our
area: denser, multi-story.

4.   Won’t the current laws of  “no more than four unrelated people living in a  house” and the “no boarding house zoning rules” prevent this from  happening?  No.  Why?  See (5)

5.  The City’s Zoning Ordinance allows exceptions to its own zoning rules. Here are how  exceptions work.


 Conditional Use Permits (CUPs)

A CUP lets people do things that aren’t normally allowed in a zone.  The granting of a CUP requires notice to the
public at large because CUPs can only be granted by the Planning Commission, which must publicly notice them as an such agenda items, and  it must send notice to at least property owners who are 300 feet from the property applying for a CUP.

          Minor Conditional Use Permits (MCUPs).

In addition to the Planning Commission, a single person, the “Zoning Administrator,” (ZA) can issue a
MCUP in certain kinds of cases, as long as certain enumerated factors apply.  To issue a MCUP, the ZA must give notice to property owners within 300 feet, but does not give public notice.  This means you can’t easily find  out about these upcoming minor CUPs in your area by, e.g., searching an Planning Commission agenda. (RMC Title 19.730)  of the Riverside

Discretionary Administrative permits.

                    The proposed  “room rental permit”  does not require a CUP or MCUP.  It only requires the issuance of a                      discretionary administrative permit, which can be granted by the ZA, with  no public notice and no notice          even to adjacent property owners.

The proposed ordinance could have included a specific requirement that such  otice must be given.  But it doesn’t.  That right to notice is important, and  it’s going to be more important if the City changes the number of permitted  rented rooms.

right to appeal Notice gives neighbors time to make written objections, to request to be  further notified of actions related to the  permit during a fifteen-day  comment and review period, and to know they have a right to appeal a decision to grant the permit to the City Council.

This right to notice and appeal doesn’t seem so important now, when the City is making it sound like it will be limiting room rentals per house to no  more than four.  But if the City really wants to limit the number of rooms  rented in houses, why is it granting these mini-dorm conversions?  I think it  is to provide more housing for UCR students.  If I’m right, this ordinance  can easily be changed to allow the rental of all the rooms in a  6, 8, or more  bedroom “mini-dorm,” and will be changed, since the City will get $ for   each permit.

Do politicians and their minions plan in advance like this?  Yes, all the time.

If this ordinance is adopted, everyone needs to send the City Clerk a written   Request for notice of any plan to amend this section of the Zoning Ordinance, because all it will take to change this law is to change the phrase “more than  two rooms” to “more than four rooms,” and once that happens, the whole  permit process — with no notice to adjacent property owners, and no  right to appeal –– will kick in, and we’ll be stuck with legal, permitted   mini-dorms everywhere.  

This whole dog and pony show we’ve seen is how unpopular political goals are accomplished.  The government figures out what it wants to have happen, and then it shapes the “fix” it offers you for your problem to carry out its goals.

It claims this will solve the problem, and uses it to try to lull the largest group, who would object to the government’s ultimate goal, into a false sense of security.  Behind the scenes (e.g., in “working groups” with city staff and UCR) it sets the plan into motion, so, with the groundwork already laid,  it can rapidly, with little time to protest, adopt its solution — not yours,  so it can accomplish its goal, not fix your problem. 

This then shifts the burden of getting any real solution — and of preventing the government from implementing its plan if you don’t like that plan — to you.  That burden is the cost and expense of suing your government, which as your government knows, most citizens can’t afford to do.

What’s going on here?

The proposed ordinance makes no logical sense, which means there‘s a hidden agenda.

If an owner and three unrelated adults who are renting rooms from the owner all live in a house, or if an non-occupant owner rents four rooms in the house to four unrelated adults, you end up with the same density already allowed under the “four unrelated adults” rule. 

So what’s the rationale for treating the rental of three rooms as so different than the rental of a whole house that you need to get a permit to do so?  For treating the rental of three rooms as  requiring an inspection of a home rented by the room, but not of houses rented as a whole house? 

There isn’t any logical rationale.  There’s only a not-very-hidden agenda: for the City to give itself the power to allow, by permit, the legal rental of rooms.  Once it has the power to issue permits for the rental of rooms in single family homes, as discussed above, it can amend its ordinance and give itself the power to permit the rental of more than four rooms per house

We need an SLO-type ordinance that addressees (1) density of adults regardless of whether they rent by room or by the house, (2) square footage required per adult tenant, (3) ratio of bathrooms to adult tenant, and (4) parking makes more sense, and that (5) doesn’t give the City power to make it legal for people to rent out more than four rooms.

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